by Max Brantley
Interesting story in the New York Times today about how cities across Georgia last week voted to approve Sunday package sales of alcohol.
Georgia was described as the last Southern state to allow Sunday sales in groceries and liquor stores. This would probably surprise most Arkies, who don't know the Arkansas legislature years ago approved local option Sunday sales. I haven't checked lately, but the last time I looked, only Eureka Springs and Wiederkehr Village had taken advantage of the law. Need a bottle of whiskey on Sunday? You can drive up to Eureka, rather than a local bootlegger, to get one.
Wouldn't Little Rock, presumably somewhat akin philosophically to Atlanta, approve Sunday sales if the City Board would only put it on the ballot? And why won't the City Board act? Unless I miss my guess, the refusal to make it impossible to pick up a six-pack on Sunday to take to the lake is less about lingering religious opposition than it is about industry resistance. Package stores, for example, would certainly oppose a measure that merely allowed beer sales on Sunday. And many of them don't think they'd recoup the cost of opening on Sunday if all sales would be permitted.
Conway and Jonesboro strongly believe the loosening of laws that allowed widespread restaurant alcohol sales — through sham private club arrangements — has been good for economic development. I also think some potential investors undoubtedly find it strange that the lights are turned off on beer coolers in Arkansas on Sunday.