In Indiana, you’re not allowed to buy alcohol on a Sunday. But that’s probably about to change.
According to this report from the South Bend Tribune, both the House and Senate in Indiana have approved bills that lift the ban — erected during the prohibition era in the 20s and 30s — and final passage of the legislation is expected sometime in mid-March, with an effective date this summer. Sounds like great news for the sellers of wine and spirits, right? Actually, the response has been somewhat muted.
For sure, the stores in neighboring Michigan aren’t thrilled. In Michigan, you can sell liquor on a Sunday and that has helped attract a fair share of Indianans looking to buy. Once the new law goes into effect, the motivation to cross state lines will likely go away for many, with stores across the border expecting a sizable hit to their sales.
What may come as a surprise is the indifference from Indiana store owners. Why aren’t they jumping for joy at the prospect of an extra day a week of potential sales?
Sundays are the second-biggest shopping day of the week at grocery stores and supermarkets. Independent liquor store owners fear that people will just buy their booze in the supermarket while they’re doing their shopping, instead of making an additional trip to their store. The fact that clerks in the smaller stores are required to get special training and that Indiana law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from entering their stores (even though they can shop at a supermarket) certainly doesn’t help. This is why many owners of Indiana liquor stores are actually opposed to the rule change while operators of supermarket and chains have been in favor.
So how will things eventually shakeout? It’s hard to guess. Independent store owners on both sides of the Michigan-Indiana are hoping to differentiate themselves through expanded hours, specialty items they sell, proximity to vacation spots and their ability to sell cold beer (the chains are not allowed).
But like so many other small businesses fighting larger companies there’s one thing that will definitely set them apart: their people. “The helpfulness and knowledge of employees,” one store owner told the Tribune, “will be what separates us from the big retailers.”