Lookout Mountain to vote on Sunday alcohol sales

Lookout Mountain to vote on Sunday alcohol sales

September 15th, 2011 by Andy Johns in News

Ashley Crouch, right, rings up two beers for Josh Hardeman at the Mapco Mart in Lookout Mountain, Ga., Wednesday. Lookout Mountain is putting the Sunday beer sales on the ballot in November.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. - Six days of the week, if Josh Hardeman wants a beer or a bottle of wine he visits the Mapco Mart on Lula Lake Road, within walking distance of his Lookout Mountain, Ga., home.

But if he needs to make a Sunday afternoon beer run, he drives down Lookout Mountain across the state line to St. Elmo.

"It's not a horrible, horrible inconvenience, but it would be nice [to buy on Sundays]," Hardeman said after buying two cans of chilled Icehouse brew Wednesday. "I'm sure it just depends on who you ask."

Hardeman may get his wish. Ninety-seven Georgia communities have decided to put Sunday sales on their November ballots and Lookout Mountain is making a bid to be the 98th.

City Clerk Cindy Roberts said the city has turned in paperwork to the state to put the referendum on the ballot.

Law changed

Before this year, Georgia was one of three states prohibiting Sunday sales. But legislators this spring passed a bill allowing municipalities to vote on Sunday retail sales of beer and wine. Dalton, Fort Oglethorpe, Tunnel Hill, Varnell and Whitfield County are among the communities planning referendums, according to the Georgia Food Industry Association.

Lookout Mountain, Ga., resident Bill Trewhitt said he probably would vote for Sunday sales, but it wasn't likely to change his buying habits.

"I don't see any problem with it," he said.

Fellow resident Amanda Brown said she's not a drinker, but she doesn't want vendors on the Georgia side of the mountain to lose revenue.

A rule change "would be very beneficial," she said.

Rory Cantrell, manager at the Mapco Mart, said wine and beer make up 8 percent to 12 percent of his store's nongasoline sales during the week and about 20 percent on Saturday. He said he'd love to see the measure pass.

"We would start promoting it right away," he said. "These Georgia residents are going over to the Tennessee side."

Personal decisions

The Rev. Aaron Messner, who lives on the Georgia side of the mountain and is chaplain at Covenant College, said that, for Christians, the vote would depend on each person's understanding of the Sabbath. Some, he said, "would not feel comfortable buying anything on Sunday, much less alcohol" because that requires people to work on the Lord's Day.

Others, even in the same congregations, might not object, he said.

Messner, who had not heard that the measure would be on the ballot, said he would have to think more on the issue before making up his mind.

"I think Lookout Mountain has a lot of strong churches, but I don't think those churches would have a monolithic understanding of alcohol use, and I think some would be more comfortable than others," he said. "I think it will be an interesting matter."

Once the state approves the city's request, the referendum will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.