Confusion and uncertainty abound among Augusta package stores as the April 1 start date of Sunday sales approaches.
Despite the prospect of increased sales and customer convenience at the start of Masters Week, many stores contacted by The Augusta Chronicle said Tuesday they still weren’t certain whether they’ll be open between 12:30 and 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Others are refusing to do it.
“We’re not sure yet,” said Andy Ladomirac, at Harbans Wine & Spirits on Boy Scout Road. “We haven’t gotten any information from the license and inspections (office). … We don’t want to be illegal and get in trouble.”
Augusta’s license and inspections office has prepared a memo to send to retailers alerting them that the sales will be permitted on Sundays, Licensing and Inspections Director Rob Sherman said.
The office won’t send it out, however, until the Augusta Commission gives final approval – expected at today’s commission meeting – to the second reading of an ordinance making existing sales licenses good on Sundays, Sherman said.
Code amendments, such as the one approved 8-1-1 by the commission March 20 to implement the Sunday sales referendum that voters approved March 6, require a second reading unless it is waived by a unanimous vote, Augusta general counsel Andrew MacKenzie said.
City Clerk Lena Bonner said it is rare, but not unheard of, for commissioners to change positions between the first and second reading of an ordinance.
Commissioner Bill Lockett, who cast the lone “no” vote, said he did not expect Sunday sales to lose support today.
Stevens Creek Wine & Spirits is readying for sales Sunday, but there’s more excitement about Masters Week sales than Sunday sales, Manager Greg Kent said.
“We’re doing it this Sunday and next Sunday,” Kent said. “After that, I will play it by ear and see how sales go on Saturday night.”
South Augusta proprietor Gerald Hardin echoed many of his reluctant colleagues in saying John’s Party Center enjoys the one day off a week and won’t be open Sundays.
“I just don’t see it’s worth it,” Hardin said. “All you’re going to do is mess up your whole day.”
The picture was clearer at area grocery and convenience stores that already are open Sundays.
It’s as simple as removing a few signs for this Sunday at Costco, said the assistant general manager, Brandon Laughlin.
Both Costco and the adjoining Augusta Liquors will be ready for package alcohol sales between 12:30 and 6 p.m. Sunday, Laughlin said.
Kervin’s Corner, a convenience store on Peach Orchard Road, isn’t thrilled with the prospect of selling alcohol on Sundays, but it will.
“I’m not wanting to make people drunk, but we are open Sunday and we have to make a living,” proprietor Okcha Kervin said. “If I’m not going to sell, I’ll lose the business.”