OXFORD – Supporters of cold beer and Sunday sales vastly outnumbered opponents at a public hearing on the issue before the Oxford Board of Aldermen.
City Hall’s courtroom was nearly full when the hearing started and one-third full for the rest of Tuesday’s board meeting.
Craddick Oil Co. representative Steven Romano said of the 26 locations his company has, only Oxford does not allow beer to be sold cold.
Joey Vaughan, owner of Joe’s Craft Beer, urged passage of both measures.
“Being hot is bad for beer,” he said. “There are breweries that don’t want to distribute here, because they know their beer goes bad much faster sitting out on the shelves than in a cooler.” Vaughan asked that both cold and Sunday sales be implemented as quickly as possible, noting that NFL football games are a big driver of beer sales.
However, another store owner, Ann Duncan of Discount Tobacco and Beer, opposed Sunday sales.
“One day a week, this town needs some peace,” she said, noting she seldom goes to the Square with its many bars. “The alcohol in this town is exploding.”
Gary Carter spoke against Sunday sales, relating a police officer’s story about one man’s ironic complaint that too many drunks were targeted for arrest. People abusing alcohol, Carter said, “are causing the personal injury, loss of life, property damage. Those are the real crooks.”
Though the ordinance being considered will not change Oxford’s limitation on restaurant alcohol sales to just a few Sundays a year, restaurateur John Currence said those few Sundays have proven a worthwhile experiment.
“We tend to like to villainize behavior of all people consuming alcohol because we see problems on Friday and Saturday,” he said. Sunday imbibers “act responsibly – having a couple of beers with a ball game, having wine with Sunday brunch.”
Police Chief Joey East researched other towns’ experience with adding cold beer sales or Sunday sales.
“The information I received was that they saw no increase in alcohol-related crimes,” he said.
Mayor Pat Patterson was surprised by the universally civil tone of the hearing. He told the audience, “Thank you for a very courteous meeting.”
The board will vote on both proposed changes Aug. 20.