D.C. liquor store owners dubious of Sunday hours

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Photo - Legislation to overhaul D.C.'s alcohol laws would permit liquor stores to be open on Sundays, but store owners aren't happy about it. (Examiner file photo)
Legislation to overhaul D.C.'s alcohol laws would permit liquor stores to be open on Sundays, but store owners aren't happy about it. (Examiner file photo)
Local,Jacob Demmit

The District's liquor store owners might soon be allowed to open their doors on Sundays, but that doesn't mean they'll be happy about it.

D.C. Councilman Jim Graham offered legislation this week to overhaul the city's alcohol code, including granting Sunday liquor sales.

"I see the Sunday sales as an accommodation for the consumer," he said. "I think our D.C. consumers ought to be able to purchase liquor from a [liquor store] on Sundays as a matter of convenience."

Oddly enough, the ones standing in opposition to the legislation are those who would potentially make the most money off these Sunday sales.

Attorney Michael Fonseca, who has specialized in representing D.C. liquor dealers for more than two decades, said most his clients don't welcome the change.

"These are family-owned businesses," he said. "Historically, it's the one day of the week that they can be off."

Graham pointed out the legislation wouldn't require anyone to open on Sundays, but Fonseca said many owners feel they would have to in order to stay competitive with surrounding stores.

And more store hours don't always mean more money. Fonseca said opening on Sunday could just lead to lower sales numbers on Saturday and Monday.

Other store owners aren't even sure there's a market for liquor on Sundays.

"Basically, none of us want to work on Sunday," said Steve Feldman, owner of Potomac Wines and Spirits. "By Sunday, people have already done most of their partying for the weekend. ... How much scotch and vodka are you going to buy on Sunday when you already have a hangover from Saturday night?"

The bill began a long process when it was introduced on Tuesday. It would likely take months before it could a chance to be signed into law.

"If they shut down the legislation, which I doubt they will, we wouldn't care," Feldman said. "If they pass the legislation, then we have some thinking to do. That's the way I'm looking at it."

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