Group tries to turn Sunday booze ban into July 4 fireworks

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The Alliance of Responsible Alcohol Retailers is using the July Fourth holiday—which falls this year on Sunday—to drum up more support for ending Indiana’s long-standing ban on Sunday retail sales of alcohol.

The alliance, which is funded by trade groups of drugstores, groceries and gas stations, so far has collected more than 48,000 signatures supporting changes to the state law. But in the past two years, the group has twice failed to persuade the Legislature to allow Sunday alcohol sales.

Indiana is one of only three states banning the sale of all alcohol by retail stores on Sundays. Hoosiers still can buy drinks at restaurants, bars or sports venues. Thirteen other states ban the sale of hard liquor on Sundays.

“Planning a Fourth of July barbecue this weekend? Well, don’t forget to plan ahead,” the alliance wrote in a news release distributed Friday. “Thanks to Indiana’s outdated alcohol laws, you won’t be able to buy your alcoholic beverage of choice in the store on the day of your celebration.”

The alliance includes such retailers as CVS, Kroger, Marsh, Meijer, Speedway and Village Pantry.

“This is not a surprise. I expected them to do something around the July Fourth holiday,” said John Livengood, president of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, a trade group for package liquor stores. “Most Hoosiers know what our laws are. So I don’t think that’s a big deal.”

Naturally, Indiana’s liquor stores are happy with the current system, which requires them to be closed on Sunday but also restricts the number of competing establishments where consumers can buy and carry out cold beer.

They’re not eager to allow massive retailers, such as Kroger or Wal-Mart, to encroach on their market shares—or, as Livengood warns, use their large buying power to reduce prices and put liquor stores out of business.

His most effective argument to the state Legislature has been that Indiana’s package liquor stores are an effective system for providing regulated access to hard alcohol. Wider access, he cautions, would come with social problems.

“The more places you have to sell alcohol, especially where minors are allowed to shop, the more problem you’re going to have,” he said. “More underage sales, more drunk driving, more public intoxication.”


  • Small vs big box
    The arguement of small stores vs big box has no place in the discussion of Sunday sales. The big boxes currently sale on the other 6 days of the week and the "smaller" liqour stores maanage to not only keep their doors open, but continue to build new locations and expand existing ones.
  • Little Guys Fine
    Deanna -- how does Sunday sales have anything to do with big guys squeezing out little guys? The market you're describing -- the big guys have more purchasing power and can sell more cheaply than little guys -- already exists and the liquor stores are doing just fine. The little guys compete by offering a wider array of products than the big boxes could ever stock. There's a market for both kinds of retailers and they're both doing just fine.

    Why would Sunday sales affect that balance at all?
  • Save the USA
    I can't believe all the negativity on here. I assume none of you own a business and realize how these big box store SUCK THE LIFE out of us small family-owned businesses. They use their power to manhandle their suppliers for better pricing if they buy in huge bulk. They make it impossible to compete. Plus, if they buy lower, the companies make less money which employee you, so no room for raises. It all trickles down. Pretty soon our future will be dictaded by big chain stores. They already buy the government.
    • Liquior stores
      Selling or not selling alcohol is not going to make or break the sellers. Big stores could put the liquor stores out of business Mon thru Sat and plenty of liquor stores are still in business in states that have Sun sales. I know liquor stores in Chicago suburbs that have a traffic cop directing traffic in & out on Saturdays but Sundays are slow because most people plan ahead & buy on Saturday! But what the heck, as long as everyone else is jumping off the bridge we might as well, too, just like daylight saving time brought us into the 21st Century so will repeal of Blue Laws, and ask the people at those stores open on Sundays which Day is their "Day of Rest" because "everyone else" is open on Sundays. No doubt you also let your 16 year olds â??drink at home ONLYâ?? because everyone else is.
    • Silly Law Is Reasonable
      Why make alcohol any more available than it is by adding a 7th purchasing day especially at gas station stores. That is an open invitation for drinking & driving any day of the week! Everyone knows the Sunday law and can plan ahead - buy on Saturday or Monday. If you are going to drink that much on July 4th, buy a few cases or kegs, but leave the laws alone. Having lived in Chicago & Northern IN, the very small amount of tax revenue lost to surrounding states is a non-issue.
    • Tax losses
      How much tax revenue is lost because of all the people that drive across the state line to any of our border states that all sell on Sunday?
      • Strange Bedfellows
        Livengood's going with the only argument he has that can get any traction. Interestingly, it used to be the churches and neo-prohibitionist groups who carried the water for the IABR with the same argument. This time, the Hallelujah Caucus is yet to engage. One wonders if they have discovered that lobbyists paid for by the retail beverage industry are more effective advocates for their position than they are. After all, moralizing about the evils of strong drink only goes so far -- especially when your audience is the General Assembly!
      • Exactly!
        I heartily agree! I grew up in Michigan, where you can buy alcohol on Sundays and cold beer in the grocery store, and there are still plenty of liquor stores in business.
      • Contact Mr. Livengood here:
        Here's Mr. Livengood's email:

      • Effective?
        Drive down U.S. 36, or any other state road in Indianapolis, and explain to me how the number of liquor stores you see is an effective system for regulation? This man clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.
      • Seriously?
        Livengood represents the worst of past and current Indiana politics. He lobbies to keep smoke in bars, and for making it more expensive, and difficult, for consumers to purchase alcohol. The new ID law that mandates that a 70 year old show an ID to buy beer at Marsh, is also his handiwork. Enough already John. Give it a rest.
      • irrelevant arguments
        1. Why should we believe Livengood that allowing Sunday sales would put liquor stores out of business? Go look at the other 47 states that allow Sunday sales -- liquor stores are doing just fine.

        2. How does his "wider access" argument against Sunday sales have any traction with the legislature? He's making an argument about WHERE you buy alcohol when the issue is WHEN you buy alcohol. As 'Indy' said, minors are allowed around alcohol in grocery stores TODAY. What difference does it make whether it's Sunday or Monday?
        • Enough already
          Saying that folks can plan ahead with their purchase is no excuse to have an out-dated law on the books. Indiana claims to be in favor of individual liberties, so why is this law still on the books? The state government should not be in the business of protecting private interests (liquor store owners).
        • hypocrisy
          It is ok to get inebriated at a bar and drive home on Sunday, but you can't buy carryout for use in your own home. When is this archaic law going to be changed? If there is no valid purpose for it, it should not be on the books.
        • What about the rest of the week?
          Livengood's comments are ridiculous. Minors shop every day in grocery stores where alcohol sales are permitted 6 days a week. I seriously doubt that allowing for sales on Sundays would lead to more â??More underage sales, more drunk driving, more public intoxication.â??
        • Livengood is a moron
          What ignorant comments from Livengood, apparently he thinks everyone was born in a barn and last night. Of course package good stores oppose this, it's the way the keep their sky high prices so Jimmy James and the other can stuff their pockets by ripping everyone off. And why worry about sales in places minors allowed since there in another law about to kick in July 1? You know the other one you supported to card everyone no matter how old they appear when they try to purchase alcohol. Get with the times Indiana, it's time to break free of antiquated blue laws that have place in society today.

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        1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

        2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

        3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

        4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

        5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.