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Indiana’s Long-Standing Sunday Ban On Packaged Liquor Sales

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(Duration: 3:51)

Big Red Liquors

Big Red Liquors in Indianapolis is closed on Sundays. (Bari Finkel)

After the days of prohibition, individual states were allowed to determine their own liquor laws.  One that’s held to this day in Indiana involves the sale of it on weekends.

Anyone of legal age in the state can now go into a bar or restaurant on a Sunday, and buy beer, wine, or hard liquor. 

But packaged liquor is a different story.  Some craft breweries and bars will sell it to go, but on Sunday, that aisle is blocked off at convenience and drug stores, and liquor stores are closed. 

A legislative effort to reverse that ban went nowhere for the fifth straight year.

Wayne Bower has operated Bower 7th and 70 Liquor, at the corner of Interstate 70 and 7th Street in Terre Haute, for 44 years. 

His store his closed on Sundays.  He said staff is entitled to a day off, and consumers should understand that.

“There’s nothing wrong with (this) - people have been accustomed to buying it for six days, I think they can continue to be accustomed to that," he said.  "They’re smart enough.  I don’t think from statistics out there your percentage is going to increase enough to make it worthwhile.”

On the other side of the debate - big box stores, like a Wal-Mart – or a grocery store – want to open that liquor aisle and draw in more business.

Grant Monahan is president of the Indiana Retail Council. 

He said the state has a ‘tough’ retail environment, and liquor store owners hide behind the law to protect the status quo.  

A study by his group estimates Indiana loses about $10-million a year in lost sales and excise tax revenues – from those who buy their liquor from neighboring states.

"What we can’t document, but what we also highly suspect is – when those folks who live in Indiana near the state line, and cross over into a neighboring state to buy alcoholic beverages on Sunday – they’re taking their entire shopping list with them," he said.  "So it isn’t just the case of beer they’re picking up in Illinois and driving back to Indiana - they’re taking their whole shopping list.”

A few years ago, Monahan’s group began lobbying for a change.  They hope for a breakthrough – with Representative Tom Dermody’s (R-LaPorte) appointment as head of the Indiana House Public Policy Committee. 

Dermody replaced another Republican,  Bill Davis, who left the legislature for a state job.  He repeatedly refused to bring the liquor bill up for a vote, citing public safety concerns. 

The lawmaker says a 2014 measure to reverse the ban on Sunday liquor sales was filed late in the session, and he couldn’t serve the issue justice by trying to advance it at the last minute. 

Dermody now wants some time to research the issue, and that means more than talking to small-town liquor stores.

“You have to look at individuals that just want Sunday sales to have it – you have to look at the broader scope – and look at the bigger picture, and that’s what this summer’s going to allow me to do, and I’m excited about that," he said.

The ban on Sunday packaged liquor sales is an example of the term ‘Blue Laws.'  They restricted shopping on Sunday for religious reasons – or simply as a day of rest.

“None of the research that I’ve done suggests that this was really a temperance movement," said Georgia Tech Economics Professor David Laband.  He authored a book in the 1980’s on Blue Laws, and said Indiana’s long-standing restrictions on liquor sales are not about religion.

“Alcohol is one of those businesses that very typically have been handled by a small proprietor," Laband said.  "And they’re no different than the other small operators.  They don’t want to be open seven days a week.  They’d like to have one day a week when they could get a little time off.”

Just as so-called ‘Blue Laws’ restrict Sunday car sales in Illinois, Wayne Bower of 7th and 70 Liquors recalls a time when lots of things weren’t for sale for Sunday – and said consumers should still be able to plan ahead.

“You used to have to go to grandma and grandpa’s on Sunday, and nothing was open but a grocery store and a gas station," he said.  "You couldn’t buy lumber on Sunday, you couldn’t buy anything else.  It’s just customers think they have to go to McDonald’s at 2 a.m. in the morning to buy something cause they want it when they want it. “

Bans on Sunday packaged liquor sales are in place in 11 other states, including Minnesota, which also limits those sales to bars and restaurants.  

In Texas, liquor stores are closed on Sundays, but alcoholic beverages can be purchased at other locations after noon.  And in some of those states, grocery stores will only sell what’s known as low-alcohol beer, or 3.2-percent beer.

State Representative Tom Dermody says he wants to take some time evaluating those laws in other states as he prepares for Indiana’s legislative session.  


  • Read the full transcript

    Pop Up Archive Item: “Indiana‚Äôs Long-Standing Sunday Ban On Packaged Liquor Sales” : https://www.popuparchive.com/collections/1468/items/11246
    Transcript for file: 2014-3-28_in_liquor_sales_noon.mp3

    00:00:00

    when power is operated power 7070 liquor at the corner of Interstate 70
    7th Street in Terre Haute from more than 40 years is stores closed on Sundays
    is a staff is entitled to a day off and consumers should understand that nothing wrong
    people and they been customer buy it for 6 days I think they can continue to be
    custom banners smart enough and I don’t think from statistics after the era
    percentage Gondry creation of America worth wild on the other side of the

    00:00:30

    big box stores like a Walmart or grocery store open at liquor violence
    draw and more business grant Monaghan is president of the Indiana retail Council
    is a state has its of retail environment and liquor store owners hide behind a lot of protected status
    the status quo a study by his group estimate Indiana loses about 10 million dollars
    Aaron lost sales an excise tax revenue from those who buy their liquor from neighboring states
    states what we can’t document but what we also highly suspect is
    windows folks who live in Indiana near the state line and cross

    00:01:05

    cross over into a neighboring state to buy alcoholic beverages on Sunday for taking
    shopping list with them so does it just the the case of beers are picking up in Illinois
    driving back to Indiana to taking the whole shopping list a few years ago
    lobbying for a change the hope for a breakthrough with representative
    head of the Indiana House Public Policy Committee the Republican
    publican from the port replaced another Republican Bill Davis who left the legislature for a state job
    state jobs you repeatedly refuse to bring the liquor Bella for a boat siding public safety concerns

    00:01:40

    2014 measure to reverse the ban on Sunday liquor sales was filed late
    late in the session and couldn’t serve the issue justice by trying to advance it at the last minute
    you know I want some time to research the issue in that means more than talking too small town liquors
    liquor stores have to work at more than individual that just won Sunday sales
    and look at the bigger picture
    Amazon allow me to do and I’m excited about that the ban on Sunday package liquor
    is an example of the term blue laws shopping on Sunday 4

    00:02:15

    or simply as a day of rest none of the research that I’ve done
    that this was really a temperance movement Georgia Tech
    Jack economics professor David la ban water the book in the 19 eighties on bull laws
    does Indiana directions on liquor sales are not about religion alcohol is one of the
    one of those businesses that very typically has been handled by
    buy a small proprietor in there no different than any of the other small operators they don’t want
    they don’t want to be open 7 days a week I’d like to have one day a week with a kid get a little bit of time off

    00:02:50

    just a so called blue laws respect sunday car sales in Illinois when Barber of 7
    seventh and 70 liquors recall the time with lots of things work for sale on Sunday in South consumer
    UC after going to grandmas and grandpas on Sunday
    side and nothing was open but a grocery store in a gas station so its skin buy lumber on San Diego
    fired by else is just a customer select they have to have a go to McDonalds
    2 a.m. In the morning to buy stomach cause I want when I want bands on Sunday
    sunday package liquor sales are in place in 11 other states clothing Minnesota

    00:03:25

    Tulsa limit the cell’s do bars and restaurants in Texas liquor stores are closed on Sunday
    afternoon in some of those days
    states grocery stores will only saw was known as low alcohol beer or 3.2 percent beer
    beer representative Tom Dermody says he wants to take some time off valuating does loss and others
    are there States as he prepares for Indiana’s next legislative session
    Illinois public media