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Sunday sales lift spirits
But full impact still not known, owners say
Sales WEB 1
Scott Remington, manager and wine consultant, shows some of the beverages for sale at the Georgia Liquor Barn on Atlanta Road. Below, items on display at the store. Representatives at local beverage stores say the full impact of Sunday sales may not be known for a while. - photo by Autumn Vetter

It’s been a month since Forsyth County and the city of Cumming began allowing stores to sell alcohol on Sundays.

But representatives at most beverage stores say they need more time before they can determine the full impact the change may have on their bottom line.

“With St. Patty’s Day, Easter and spring break, it’s been too soon to tell,” said Nathan Popky, president of Pop’s Wine & Spirits on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth.

He noted that all of those events led to higher than normal sales, adding that they’ll “probably need a full year to really tell the difference” with Sundays.

On March 6, voters in both local jurisdictions overwhelming approved Sunday sales, with margins of 69 and 61 percent, respectively.

Nearly 99.6 percent of the 31,505 voters who cast ballots weighed in on the issue.

Scott Remington, manager of Georgia Liquor Barn on Atlanta Road, echoed Popky’s sentiments.

“It’s going OK, but it’s still too early to tell the real impact,” he said. “It’ll take probably at least another three to four months to kind of look at the numbers and see what the final result is.”

The March vote gave package store operators the option of being open on Sundays.

Remington said he knows of some smaller stores that have chosen to stay closed that day, or open only on some Sundays.

“But I think the key to being successful with Sunday sales is to be open consistently,” Remington said. “You can’t be open some and closed some. You need to be open or closed and with the same hours every Sunday.”

To Bobby Sigle, owner of Olde World Bottle Shop near downtown Cumming, the Sunday business has been “about what [he] expected.”

“It’s not been great, but it has started to improve,” he said. “Each week seems to get better.”

Sigle anticipated Sunday business will continue to improve as the weather warms.

“With the summer, we get a lot of lake [Lanier] traffic, so that should help,” he said.

Remington agreed that summer will have an impact, but said he thinks stores may see their best Sunday traffic in the fall.

“The true test will happen with football season,” he said. “Starting in late August, September and October, that’s when people will be loading up for their Sunday game parties.”

Both Remington and Sigle said Sunday sales seem to be drawing new customers.

“We have noticed a lot of new faces on Sundays,” Remington said.

Added Sigle: “Of our Sunday customers, we’re seeing probably 60 percent regulars and 40 percent new people.”

As for staffing, Popky and Remington said they haven’t had to bring on any additional employees.

“We have a great crew here and everybody’s just moved some of their shifts around to cover Sunday,” he said.

“On Sundays, there’s usually one full-timer and one part-timer,” Remington said. “It’s been a little bit of an adjustment, but everyone’s made the adjustment.”

Time may tell with Sunday sales, but the vendors seem optimistic.

“Some people are still figuring it out,” said Sigle, adding that numbers likely will continue to improve as more customers learn he is open on Sundays.

Added Remington: “I’m very pro-choice. I think people should be able to buy their alcohol seven days a week.

“So in the long term, I think it will be a very positive thing.”