New bill would let Prince George's County liquor stores stay open on Sundays

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Local,Maryland,Food and Drink,Matt Connolly,Prince Georges County,Government Regulation

Prince George's County liquor stores are split with those that sell only beer and wine over a bill that would allow many more to open on Sundays.

Currently, only stores that sell beer and wine can stay open seven days a week. But a bill that county lawmakers are considering introducing in the Maryland General Assembly would allow all liquor stores to apply for special licenses to operate on Sundays.

"We just need any competitive advantage we can get," said Blaise Miller, who owns BK Miller Meats & Liquors in Clinton. "I think D.C. will have Sunday sales sooner than we will."

Under the proposal by Del. James Hubbard, D-Prince George's, liquor stores would have to apply for the Sunday permit on top of their normal alcoholic beverage license -- which means an additional $450 annual fee. Hubbard called the bill a test run but said the

county

delegation would likely support it if enough store owners do.

"I thought it was time to take the temperature of the industry," he said. "If a majority of the industry is in favor of it, we'll probably try to move forward with it."

Stores that already have a license to open Sundays, however, aren't looking for more in-county competition. Pete Spiropoulos, who owns the Town Center Market in Riverdale Park, said that the 260 "mom-and-pop stores" that sell beer and wine would take a big hit if the other 240 liquor stores can open on Sundays.

"That's the way it's been for many years," he said. "If they do this, they're going to close out a lot of us smaller shops."

Spiropoulos noted that the added threat of large grocery store chains like Whole Foods pushing for liquor licenses means protecting local stores should be an even higher priority.

"Look what happened to hardware stores when Home Depot took over," he said. "The small stores just can't afford to compete with them."

Prince George's County House Delegation Chairwoman Jolene Ivey introduced a similar bill two years ago that didn't get enough county support to pass. She said she was sympathetic to owners like Spiropoulos and might consider an amendment to keep them from losing too much business, but held that the bill would benefit residents.

"Most consumers say those laws are archaic," she said. "This is the 21st century."

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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Matt Connolly

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner