Alcohol sales to be allowed on Sundays

Westonites may soon be able to stock up at the local liquor store on Sundays and holidays — or maybe not.

Both houses of the Connecticut Legislature passed a bill that would change the state’s liquor laws to allow retail alcohol sales on Sundays, some holidays, and Mondays after some holidays. The bill — slightly modified from the original proposed by the governor — will become law as soon as it is signed by the governor, who has pledged to do so.

“Once I sign this bill, Indiana will be the only state in the nation to ban Sunday Sales. It’s a measure that’s long past due and a good first step to making our state’s package stores more consumer friendly,” Mr. Malloy said in a statement.

But the law does not require package stores to change their hours of operation.

Larry Vavrek, owner of Peter’s Spirit Shop in Weston Center — Weston’s only package store — is not sure yet if he will open on Sundays, even once he is allowed to do so.

“I would prefer not to, and if all my neighbors decided not to, that would make me happy,” Mr. Vavrek said. “But I don’t want to alienate my customers,” he added.

The new law will allow retail sales of alcohol on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Supermarkets, which already sell beer, would be able to do so on Sundays, as well.

In addition, stores will be able to sell alcohol on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, and Mondays following any Independence Day, Christmas or New Year’s Day that fall on a Sunday.

The bill also increases the number of package stores a permit holder may own from two to three and allows package stores and grocery stores to put one beer or liquor item on sale up to 10% below cost each month.

According to the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, Connecticut looks to gain $5.2 million per year in revenue.

Mr. Vavrek said he would almost certainly make more money if he opened on Sundays, even taking into consideration paying someone to work the extra hours. But, he said, “I could care less about the money.”

For him, the decision whether to open for a seventh day a week will be a combination of what is best for his customers and for his employees.

At Peter’s Spirit Shop, Mr. Vavrek only employs one other full time employee besides himself, “and he loves having Sundays and Mondays off.” Asking his employee to work more would mean less time he could spend with his family, Mr. Vavrek said.

He also employs two part-time employees, but they are under 18 and cannot work in the store alone.

Above all, Mr. Vavrek says he wants to do right by his customers, but he does not believe he would lose business if he decides to keep his store closed on Sundays.

“I don’t think people’s buying habits are going to change that drastically,” Mr. Vavrek said.

He said he is slightly more concerned about the provision that will allow stores that sell alcohol to put one item on sale up to 10% below cost each month. Some have argued this will give an advantage to larger discount stores and grocery stores who can buy in bulk.

“Grocery stores are certainly happy,” Mr. Vavrek said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The governor’s original bill included wide-ranging proposals to overhaul Connecticut’s liquor laws, such as changing the price structures and allowing certain convenience stores to sell beer.

These provisions, among others, were removed through the legislative process. Instead, the compromise bill calls for the creation of a task force to study and report back on the liquor pricing and permitting systems.

“I continue to believe there’s more we can do to lower the cost to consumers in our state,” Mr. Malloy said. “I look forward to the study proposed by the legislature. It’s a good first step and one that I hope lays the foundation for future action. This much is clear — the more we can lower prices for consumers, the more competitive our businesses will be.”

Shannon Young of the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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