Ready or not, one week from today, Cumming and Forsyth residents could be able to purchase alcohol on Sundays.
Nearly 69 percent of county voters and more than 61 percent of city voters approved a measure allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays. While the margin reveals strong support, not everyone is excited, specifically some package stores.
“It’s one of those things that it is what it is, so we’ll be here to serve,” said Nathan Popky, president of Pop’s Wine & Spirits on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth.
Popky said he doesn’t think being open Sundays will generate any more revenue, “but who knows? Time will tell,” he said.
Sunday sales are slated to begin in both the county and city as soon as March 18.
For grocery stores, which are already open on Sundays, the impact won’t be as great. But for package stores like Pop’s, schedules have to be shifted to allow for the extra day.
“We had a head’s up that it was coming, so we’ve been able to do some planning, so we should be in good shape,” Popky said.
The city and county have also made the necessary adjustments, changing their ordinances long before this week’s vote in the event it passed.
“We just put language in our ordinance modifications that provided that if the referendum was unsuccessful, then the Sunday sales language would become moot,” said county attorney Ken Jarrard.
Cities and counties that didn’t make the ordinance changes in advance could be facing about two months of waiting, Jarrard said.
“We didn’t delay it until after the referendum … to better implement the will of the voters,” he said. “If they voted in a referendum to approve alcohol sales, I don’t think the board of commissioners wanted to be in a situation where they then had to wait another 60 days before that could be implemented.”
Cumming Administrator Gerald Blackburn said if Sunday sales was what voters wanted, the city wanted to provide it efficiently.
“It wasn’t a matter of doing it fast, it was a matter of doing it complete to start with and from a legal standpoint,” he said.
With the increase of jurisdictions approving Sunday sales, some have wondered if it’s one more day for alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.
But Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton said he’s not so sure.
“I don’t think there are any reliable data to support that we would see an increase in any type of alcohol-related incidents,” he said.
“Even though it wasn’t available for package sales on Sundays, it has been available in restaurants on Sundays, so taking that into consideration, I really do not see there being any marked increase in any alcohol related incidents,” Paxton added. “I really don’t think it’s going to be much of an impact at all.”
Though package stores have the option to remain closed Sundays, “for competitive reasons” Pop’s and others are going to be open, Popky said.
“The surrounding counties are already open, so we definitely want to be open to compete.”