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Massachusetts: Package Stores aren’t Toasting Expanded Sunday Hours

Liquor stores in Massachusetts may open two hours earlier on Sundays beginning this weekend, but not all purveyors of spirits plan to take advantage of the expanded hours.


At the Liquor Locker in Gloucester, the hours posted on the door have been changed already to let customers know they can come early to get their beer, wine and booze.


“Everybody else is going to open early, so we can’t ignore it,” said store manager Chris O’Brien. “It will mean a little more business, especially during football season.”


But others are taking a wait-and-see approach.


“My biggest concern is that it will mean less people shopping on Saturday nights, when we get a lot of business,” said Pete Athanasopoulos, owner of Depot Liquors in Beverly. “We’re not going to change our hours just yet.”


The expanded hours, allowing retail liquor sales as early as 10 a.m. on Sundays, were approved by state lawmakers in the waning days of the legislative session and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick. The restrictions were a vestige of so-called blue laws dating to Puritan Colonial times, when activities deemed to promote sinful behavior were banned on Sundays.


Owners of package stores and convenience stores along Massachusetts’ northern and southern borders have long complained that restrictions on Sunday sales put them at a disadvantage compared with their competitors in neighboring states.


New Hampshire’s state-run liquor outlets – which dot the border with Massachusetts – and liquor stores in Vermont can sell alcohol as early as 6 a.m. on Sundays. In Rhode Island and Connecticut, stores that sell alcohol open at 10 a.m.


Package store owners say they welcome the eased restrictions but doubt the changes will mean much.


Source: Salem News