Indiana had restricted Sunday alcohol sales since becoming a state in 1816. The passage of the 21st Amendment in 1933 overturned Prohibition, but Indiana retained a ban on Sunday sales of alcohol.
But, nine months ago, Indiana became the 41st state to allow Sunday liquor sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, ending its antiquated ban.
The South Bend Tribune reported this week that the dire predictions that helped justify the ban haven’t come to pass in northern Indiana.
In Kokomo, Soupley’s co-owner Kyle Rayl told the Tribune that Sunday sales have just “been OK.”
“Overall it’s what we predicted,” said Rayl. “Saturdays were our busiest days and Sunday sales have taken away from our Saturday sales.”
For years, the argument went that Sunday sales would bring economic upheaval. While liquor stores like Soupley's are seeing a bit of downturn on Saturday sales, in northern Indiana, traditional liquor stores seem to be faring just fine.
Liquor store owners on the Indiana side of the border with Michigan were concerned that ending the ban would mean that shoppers would buy their alcohol while grocery shopping on Sundays. Stores on the Michigan side feared that they would be forced to close after Indiana shoppers stopped coming to them to buy alcoholic beverages on Sundays.
Thanks to those arguments — and the state’s powerful liquor store lobby — consumers, the strong majority of whom supported Sunday carryout sales, were ignored and inconvenienced.
The reality of Sunday sales in Indiana has been somewhat different than the grim forecasts. Although business has been somewhat slower on the Michigan side, some stores have used competitive advantages such as installing additional coolers to ensure an ample supply of cold beer.
And Gary Gardner, the operations manager at Belmont Beverage — who opposed Sunday sales — says Belmont hasn’t been hurt so far by the change. In fact, he told The South Bend Tribune, it might have been helped. “I’m glad it’s gone the way it’s gone so far,” he said.
So are we — and so, we’d wager, are Hoosiers frustrated by the state stubbornly holding on to a blue law that’s been on the books since federal Prohibition ended in 1933.
Eighty-five years later, Indiana ended its dubious distinction as the last state in the nation that bans all sales of carryout alcohol on Sundays.
This calls for a toast: Better late than never.
- The Kokomo Tribune and The South Bend Tribune