Sunday morning liquor sales legalized

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dave Singh (right), the owner of Crocker's Party Store on Broadway Street, and Sahiel Singh stock wine Tuesday. Beginning this month, stores and restaurants in Michigan will be able to purchase a permit to be able to sell liquor on Sunday mornings. (Daily Star photo/AARON MUELLER)

Dave Singh is expecting to have fewer angry customers on Sunday mornings very soon.

Beginning this week, Sunday morning liquor sales will be legal in Michigan.

Singh, the owner of Crocker’s Party Store in Niles, couldn’t be happier about the law that was passed by the state in November, lifting a ban on liquor sales from 7 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

“We have people who come in (Sunday mornings) and cuss me out about it,” Singh said, adding some customers will wait in his parking lot until noon when they can legally buy liquor.

Singh said he expects the law to give his store “a little jump” in sales during a tough economy.

On Dec. 16 the state liquor control commission will begin issuing the $160 licenses that allow stores and restaurants to sell alcohol Sunday mornings.

Municipalities are being given the option to continue the prohibition within their borders, although it looks unlikely that either the City of Niles or Niles Township will pursue an ordinance to do so.

Township clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt brought up the issue at Monday night’s township board meeting, but no action was taken.

Durm-Hiatt said because alcohol sales are against the law on Sundays in Indiana, the new Michigan law could be a benefit for the township.

“I think, as a bordering community, we get a lot of people from Indiana that come up to buy,” she said.

Niles City Administrator Terry Eull said he didn’t expect the city council to take any action.

“I have sent a memo to the council but have not heard a response from anybody,” he said. “I don’t seem any harm in it.”

Some local officials disagree.

“I’m certainly against it myself,” Cass County Commissioner Johnie Rodebush, D-Niles, commented at the Cass County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday.

“It came up several years ago and we voted against it,” Rodebush said, “so we didn’t have to put up with drunks on the way to church. I think we should take some action, either for or against it and let them know on the state level that we do notice what’s going on.”

Dec. 16 is the deadline for municipalities to approve an ordinance to continue the ban.

While some convenience store owners, like Singh, are excited about the new law, others are still skeptical about its impact on small business.

John Archer, owner of Belle Plaza Party Store near the state line in Niles, said his business is not open Sunday mornings and he doesn’t plan to change, even with the new law.

“It will help the big box stores — the Wal-Mart, the Harding’s, the Martin’s,” he said. “We open at noon on Sundays. We just can’t justify being open that early with the business we get.”

Ron Sather, the president of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce, believes the law was long overdue.

“Boy, I think it’s about time,” he said. “People circle these stores on Sundays sometimes. It will be beneficial to both taxes in the state and retailers in border cities like us.”

The law also allows for:

• Stores to offer free beer and wine samplers to shopper, but no more than three samples of two ounces each

• Restaurants to give two free samples of beer or wine to taste before purchasing a glass

• Wineries to charge for samples of their wines