Discussions in Starkville about legalizing alcohol sales on Sunday have drawn the watchful attention of Tupelo city officials and some civic leaders, wary of increased competition for valuable tourism and special event business.
The issue has ebbed and flowed for decades in Tupelo, never making enough headway for approval.
Tupelo is not the only city of significant size in Northeast Mississippi to forbid Sunday alcohol sales, but were Starkville (and/or Oxford) to approve Sunday sales the economic pressure on Tupelo would ratchet up and press revisiting the question.
Many Mississippi municipalities allow Sunday sales of beer and/or liquor by the drink. Package sales – liquor by the bottle from retail stores – is prohibited statewide as in 13 other states.
Some opposed to Sunday alcohol sales make their stand solely on Sunday’s status as the Christian Sabbath, and that same reasoning for a long time was the backbone of “blue laws” prohibiting myriad other retail and personal activities on Sunday, including sale of groceries, clothing, and virtually every other item or activity deemed non-essential.
Most people shop routinely for formerly forbidden items for convenience and need.
The business landscape on Sundays gradually has changed, with major retail centers like Tupelo doing a brisk Sunday business, especially during sales events and in holiday seasons.
We believe Sunday alcohol sales by the drink in Tupelo’s restaurants and beer from grocery and convenience stores is within the same economic persuasion: profitability and convenience. Our hotels and restaurants need the business of conventions and travelers. Restaurants and special events would make themselves more competitive with legal Sunday alcohol sales.
Some towns, like Corinth and Aberdeen, allow Sunday beer sales from convenience and grocery stores within limited hours after mid-day.
Arkansas, our conservative neighbor across the Mississippi River, in March repealed its blue law banning Sunday liquor sales.
Arkansas is the 14th state since 2002 to erase its Sunday sales ban. The Arkansas law gives communities the option to vote on allowing package stores to open on Sundays.
In addition, Arkansas’s new law allows restaurants and other on-premise establishments to serve alcohol on Sundays between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight – an extension of up to four more hours.
Arkansas, proponents of the new law note it is on the border of several states that continue to ban Sunday sales, namely Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Oklahoma. It hopes to profit from cross-border sales.
Tupelo, Starkville and other cities competing for the same tourism and convention business owe it to themselves to seriously consider Sunday sales in licensed establishments.
NEMS Daily Journal