Starting Sunday, all roads in the Augusta area lead to the city of Grovetown – at least for those seeking a six-pack.
City council members voted unanimously Monday to amend the city’s alcohol ordinance, fulfilling voters’ wishes to allow Sunday carry-out sales of beer, wine and liquor.
Because the law change took immediate effect, this Sunday is the first day package alcohol sales will be allowed in the city. It follows action by the state Legislature this year, allowing cities and counties to hold local referendums on Sunday package alcohol sales.
The first of those referendums took place Nov. 8, with Grovetown and 126 other communities in Georgia holding a vote. All but 17 of those referendums passed, according to the Georgia Food Industry Association.
The city of Winder, near Athens, was the first to allow Sunday sales, according to the GFIA. Other communities have followed as local ordinances are amended in accordance with the vote.
City of Augusta officials say they plan to hold a referendum in March. Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson said the county will hold a referendum in July along with party primaries, while Harlem Administrator Jason Rizner says officials there haven’t yet decided when to hold a vote.
A Grovetown code enforcement official this week visitedeach of the city’s eight stores already licensed for package alcohol sales to let them know of the law’s change, said City Administrator Shirley Beasley.
Those stores cansell carry-out alcohol from 12:30-11:30 p.m. Sundays. The law applies only to stores within the city limits of Grovetown.
“That’s going to bring a lot of revenue to this little town,” said Jessie Wright, assistant manager of Food Lion at 806 Lewiston Road.
tThat no other local communities have yet voted to enable Sunday sales will provide that boost, Wright said. Conversely, the change also likely will cut down on the last-minute Saturday rush each week at the beer cooler.
“The last few minutes in here before we close is very busy,” Wright said.
Peter Lee, owner of GT Package Shop at 5108 Wrightsboro Road, agrees.
“Most people buy for Sunday on Saturday afternoon or evening,” Lee said. “Now they can wait until Sunday.
“I think it will all equal out,” Lee added. “I might see a slight pickup. Certainly sales will go up, but not much.”
Most Grovetown stores contacted say they plan to sell this Sunday, but Lee says he’ll stay closed because of a previous obligation. The following Sunday is Christmas, and Georgia law prohibits alcohol sales on Christmas, so Lee plans to open for his first Sunday on Jan. 1.
A few blocks away, the manager of Billy Jacks Party Shop isn’t yet certain whether the store will open on what ordinarily is their only day off.
“I’m not planning to open this Sunday, but we’ll probably give it a trial run soon,” said Angel Wallace, whose father owns the store.
“I’m going to talk to my employees and see if anyone is interested in those hours,” she added.
Because GT Package Shop and Billy Jack’s are the only liquor stores in Grovetown, customers will be able to buy only beer or wine this Sunday.