SEGUIN — A bill has been introduced in the Texas Legislature to allow liquor stores to stay open on Sunday, but store managers and owners are not supporting it.
State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, filed House Bill 421 on Jan. 9. If passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by the governor, the bill will allow liquor stores in Texas to be open from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Since before the adoption of Prohibition, Texas liquor stores have been required to close on Sunday.
“I think it sucks,” said Mark Moore, manager of Zella’s Liquors, 1052 E. Kingsbury in Seguin. “I’m not going to do it,” Moore said about staying open on Sundays if the bill becomes law.
Thompson’s bill also proposes to increase the hours liquor stores are allowed to be open on the other days of the week. Currently, they can be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. HB 421 adds two hours to the schedule, authorizing the stores to be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Moore had the same comment about the longer hours: “I’m not going to do it.”
Like other liquor store owners and managers across the state, Moore said opening on Sunday will increase costs more than it increases sales.
“In other states, it’s been done,” he said. “They had a 6 percent increase in sales, but it cost another 17 percent in labor and time.”
Since 2002, 14 states have repealed bans on Sunday liquor sales including neighbors New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mexico. Sunday liquor sales currently are allowed in 36 states.
Moore isn’t the only store operator who has no plans to open on Sundays if the law is changed.
“I ain’t gonna do it,” said Velma Biltjinitis, owner of Pooter’s Liquor Store, 4110 N. Highway 46. “I am not going to open on Sundays — absolutely not.”
She said changing the law is being pushed by distributors and politicians and not by liquor store owners, managers and employees.
“I wish we had to close on Sunday and Monday,” Biltjinitis said. “It (opening on Sunday) is not going to help my business.”
Regarding the extended hours, she said she definitely wouldn’t start opening earlier. “We don’t open until 12 o’clock during the week anyway,” Biltjinitis said.
She seemed less certain about whether or not to take advantage of the bill’s extending closing time from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“You can get what you want before 9 o’clock,” Biltjinitis said. However, she conceded that it might be helpful to some of her customers if the store stayed open until 10 p.m.
In Texas, more than 35,000 restaurants are allowed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption on Sunday. Beer and wine sales for off-premises consumption are allowed at supermarkets and convenience stores after noon on Sunday. Only the state’s 2,460 liquor stores are prohibited from opening their doors on Sunday.
Similar legislation failed to go anywhere during the 2011 session of the Legislature. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and State Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, filed companion bills that would have allowed liquor stores to open on Sunday, but both bills were pending in committees when the 2011 session ended.