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Sunday alcohol sales may be on the ballot in Fayetteville this November

Stores in Fayetteville are not permitted to sell beer, wine, or liquor on Sundays.
Quinn Cook
Stores in Fayetteville are not permitted to sell beer, wine, or liquor on Sundays.

Selling and buying alcohol on Sundays has been on the minds of many Fayetteville citizens for the past couple of years. An attempt was made and rejected years ago to do so, but a new ballot proposal is in the works. Arkansas State Representative Denise Garner emphasizes the need for this initiative to be on ballots this November.

“Well, the big thing is that right now residents have to drive to neighboring cities if they're looking to buy a cold beer or a bottle of wine from a local liquor store,” Garner said. “So those tax dollars from the sales of the liquor are going to those cities as opposed to our own.”

This initiative could potentially keep thousands of dollars in local liquor stores. However, these liquor stores that it intends to help might be the ones to oppose it. Anna Smith is the manager of City Liquor, and she is opposed to the measure.

“I think Fayetteville selling alcohol on Sundays is a bad idea because of the college,” Smith said. “I'm sure that a lot of parents would agree with me too, they don't want their college kids drinking on Sundays and have to go to school on Monday.”

Smith said her employees like the predictability of having one day off a week. “A lot of my employees don't want to work Sundays,” Smith said. “You know, they work five days a week, so they get one day and then always get Sunday off, so that's something that they always count on. You know a lot of people go to church and they don’t want to be at work, so they can go to church.”

Breweries in Fayetteville are allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays, as long as it's their product. Sawyer Hanson is the manager at Columbus House Brewery, and he said allowing sales on Sunday for all will increase business.

“Breweries have been in a loophole in Fayetteville where we are allowed to do to-go sales on Sundays. Whereas liquor stores, grocery stores and gas stations can not,” Hanson said.

“However, a lot of people aren't aware of that, so a lot of people don't come in for that on Sundays. So, I think if there's just a general rule change where everyone knows you can get to-go alcohol on Sundays, I do think it will increase business.”

Hanson said it's overall a good initiative.

“I hope everybody supports it. I think it’s about time we change these rules and be like most other places,” Hanson said.

A few years ago, the legislature attempted to give the authority to city councils in Arkansas to decide whether or not to allow the sale of liquor on Sundays, Garner said.

“That failed," she said. "We couldn’t get it out of committee. The only way a city can get the Sunday sales on the ballot is through a ballot initiative and petition drive. And so the petitions have to be signed by 15% of the folks who voted in the previous governor's election. Kind of a strange way to do things, but in Fayetteville, that's about 4,200 people, and so we're trying to get about 4,500.”

Garner said it’s important to think about the impact of tourism and how those dollars spent on beer and liquor on Sundays will play a role in the local economy.

“You know, we want all of these folks that are coming in for Razorback Games or for other activities in Fayetteville or those folks who live here to be able to purchase their wine and spirits conveniently and keep their tax dollars for our own community,” Garner said. “We want to grow our own community and we don't want those tax dollars going to other places. As much as we love our neighbors, we want our tax dollars to stay in Fayetteville. “

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Quinn Cook is an Advertising and PR student at the University of Arkansas. She is originally from St. Louis, MO.
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