Baldwin County and the City of Milledgeville have an extra day to purchase packaged alcohol. With Christmas Eve and the approaching New Year's Eve on Mondays, local retailers have seen some heavy business to close December, though long-term viability seems foggy.
The ordinance, effective Dec. 1, completed a seven-day stretch to legally purchase malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits from local retailers. The Sunday sales referendum passed with more than 65 percent of the Baldwin County vote in the November General Election.
Convenience, grocery and package stores are affected by the change. Sales are permitted from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sundays.
Gil's Package Store owner Andy Patel said it's difficult gauging an accurate sales number with the holiday season. Patel wants to see how things settle down in January before he decides the added day's profitability.
This Sunday is expected to be busy with New Year's Eve falling on Monday. December is the most active month in the liquor business, according to Patel.
Gil's usually closes around 8 p.m. Sundays. The package store owner said the customers' feelings have been mixed.
The first two weeks were slow for Patel, with an obvious boost last Sunday and another good business day expected the end of the month.
Patel does appreciate public understanding that the new ordinance affects the day owners used to have reserved for the family.
Roc Patel, owner of Roc's Liquor Store, said the sales have been mediocre considering the hours logged. The first few Sundays were extremely slow.
“It wasn't worth it,” Roc said. “It almost cost us to stay open.”
He mentioned that another storeowner would probably not open Sundays in January or February. Warmer weather could positively impact the added sales day.
Currently, he has only stayed open until around 5 p.m. two Sundays and plans on closing next month.
Super Bowl Sunday is the next big opportunity for both storeowners. For now, neither is high on the sales expectations.