Celebrating Sunday sales and Southern progress

I grew up with Blue Laws, ordinances passed to keep businesses closed on Sundays to make sure the people attended their local church of choice. The only stores allowed to open on Sunday mornings were pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores. Wal-Mart – closed until 1:30 p.m. JC Penney, where I worked while I was in high school, didn’t open its doors until 1:30 p.m. on Sundays. You get the idea.

When I finished school and moved to Atlanta in 2005, I had lived nearly my entire life under a Sunday alcohol sales ban. Not being able to buy booze here wasn’t a shock, even in a large, metropolitan city.

Last night, Atlanta and cities across the state overwhelmingly approved measures to allow local municipalities to regulate alcohol sales on Sundays. Scanning over the numbers, the will of the people was obvious – voters wanted the option to buy booze on Sundays.

There was one exception, Palmetto. Its loss.

Progress can often be a slow, daunting challenge for Southern states. But yesterday, the will of the people was heard loud and clear.

It makes me wonder why it took so long for this referendum to be brought to voters. If a similar measure had been put to the public in 1992, I’m certain that cities across the state would have been allowed nearly 20 years of Sunday alcohol sales.

For many cities, the restriction won’t be lifted until the new year. January 1st, New Year’s Day, is the first Sunday of 2012. I know where I’ll be that morning (stocking up on screwdriver supplies for the Macy’s New Year’s Day parade).

Thank you, Georgians, for giving me hope of progress, even here in the heart of the South.


Top photo: Sunday alcohol sales bans lifted across Georgia (Creative Commons via www.flickr.com/photos/greencolander)