Few Chattanooga area liquor stores open on first legal Sunday for sales

Few Chattanooga area liquor stores open on first legal Sunday for sales

April 23rd, 2018 by Rosana Hughes in Local Regional News

While Sunday wine and liquor sales may be convenient for customers, retailers have mixed feelings.

This Sunday was the first Sunday Tennessee consumers were able to legally buy a bottle of wine or liquor under a seven-day bottle-sales bill signed into law last week by Gov. Bill Haslam.

But few package stores opened Sunday.

Danny Henry, owner of Henry's EZ Liquors, located on Highway 58, said he doesn't think many, if any, liquor store owners wanted to open on Sundays at all.

"Our politicians have said that some liquor store owners have always wanted to open on Sundays ... I've talked to no liquor store owner that wanted to open on Sundays," Henry said, noting that it would create higher operating cost but sales would likely stay the same.

Some owners said before Sunday that they'd wait to see how sales went for those who did open or that they'd close early.

For Camille Eberhart, manager at Big K Liquor on Dodson Avenue, business was "going pretty good."

There had been a steady flow of foot traffic since opening at noon, she said, and by 3:30 p.m., they had made 64 transactions, which she said was positive.

Store owners discussed opening a bit earlier next Sunday if sales finished decently, she said.

Henry, however, didn't share Eberhart's positivity.

"The biggest concern I have is, I think at the end of the month, we're gonna have the same dollar totals," he said. "Just, we're going to spread it out."

He said there may be a "honeymoon" phase in the beginning, but he'd already seen customers notice he'd be open on Sunday and said, "Oh, you're open on Sunday. I'll just see you tomorrow."

"They didn't buy enough for two days, they just bought enough for one day," Henry said.

At his store, located about seven miles north of downtown Chattanooga, he said he'd had 46 customers as of 3 p.m. That was slower than most days, he said. Though, he thinks a lot of people may not yet know liquor sales are now allowed on Sundays.

As word spreads, he thinks traffic will pick up, but he thinks he'll be trading Saturday and Monday business.

"A guy that would be in here on Monday, he might come in on Sunday, but he's not gonna come back on Monday," Henry said.

Henry opened for business on Sunday at 10 a.m., the earliest allowed by the new bill, and his closing time will be dictated by how business is going, he said.

"If it's dead by, say at 7 o'clock, I'll turn the lights out and go in," he said, adding he wasn't yet sure if he'd continue opening on Sundays.

"I'll just try to see how business flows," he said.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @Hughes Rosana.