Some York County convenience store owners say selling beer and wine on Sundays isn’t the boom they had expected.
While some stores are reporting good sales on Sunday, that number is offset by a loss of Saturday sales.
“I’m not sure the cost of the permit was worth it,” said Ben Revis, who purchased two permits, one for the Revis Grocery & Gift Shop in York and one for Ben’s Country Store, outside of York.
Revis said his in-town store sells about $200 of beer on Sunday, but that’s offset by losses on Saturday. Sales at Ben’s Country Store are better, averaging about $400 on Sunday. A two-year permit is $2,200.
In November, York County voters said “yes” in a referendum to allow the sale of beer and wine at convenience and grocery stores. So far, 105 of the estimated 200 convenience and grocery stores have received permits for seven-day sales from the state.
Most of the major grocery and convenience store chains have 7-day permits.
Also in November, Lancaster County voters also said “yes” in a referendum allowing restaurants to serve liquor on Sunday. So far, three restaurants – Applebee’s, Los Mariachis and Wing King Cafe – have received the Sunday permit. Wing King and Los Mariachis said Sunday sales are increasing weekly.
Advocates of the York referendum said it was an issue of choice for county residents. By allowing Sunday sales in York County, those residents can spend their money in the county and not have to travel to Charlotte. Advocates of both referendums said Sunday sales would be good for local businesses.
Chris Corn, owner of the Little Giant Food Stores, supported the York referendum.
“Sales started well, but have spread out over seven days,” he said. Corn had projected as much as a 10 percent increase in sales, but that hasn’t happened.
“Maybe that was too much. We didn’t know what the impact would be.”
Corn had also hoped the increased sales would allow him to hire another employee for Sunday. So far, sales haven’t been enough to justify an additional hire, he said.
The convenience of 24-hour sales, however, has helped, he said. The Little Giant Food Stores close at midnight, but if people are in line to buy beer, it’s not a problem, he said.
Doug Hinson, owner of O'Darby's Fine Wine & Spirits, was another booster of the York referendum. He had predicted that Sunday hours would increase the sale of wine at his stores, which already account for 25 percent of his sales. Sales of “craft” beers would also rise, Hinson said.
So far, Hinson has not applied for a seven-day sales permit.
“We looked at it and determined we can sell as much in six days as we would in seven days,” he said.
Hinson said people buying wine on Sunday are more likely to go to a grocery store rather than a speciality store.
Planned expansions at his Galleria and Newport area stores could result in Hinson applying for a Sunday sales permit.
Tom Lanum, general manager of the Wing King Cafe in Lancaster, said the ability to sell beer, wine and liquor has allowed the restaurant to increase the hours employees work and hire two more people.
“We couldn’t do this without alcohol sales,” he said. The cafe had previously had Sunday hours twice before, but there were not enough sales to stay open, Lanum said.
Manoj Nampoothiry, operator of Elliot’s Exxon on Cherry Road in Rock Hill, said Sunday sales “are just another reason to stay open.”
So far, his sales haven’t increased, with Sunday sales offset by Saturday losses. He and others, however, are optimistic that beer sales will pick up once the weather gets warmer.
York County Sunday sales permits
By location: Rock Hill 59, Fort Mill 17, Clover 12, York 12, Lake Wylie 3, Tega Cay 2, McConnells 1.
By merchant: Kangaroo Express 12, Food Lion 9, Bi Lo 6, Circle K 5, Little Giant Food Market 4, Harris Teeter 3, Times Turn Around 3, Wal Mart 2.
For a complete list of York County merchants who have permits to sell beer and wine on Sunday go to Heraldonline.com
Source: S.C. Department of Revenue