Marietta: Cheers to Sunday alcohol sales in Cobb cities

In less than a month, the cities of Kennesaw and Smyrna will begin permitting Sunday packaged sales of alcohol as a result of the recent referendum letting voters decide the issue rather than old Blue Laws and some religious opposition.

Last Sunday, Acworth became the first Cobb County city allowing stores to legally sell beer, wine and liquor for takeout on Sundays. Kennesaw and Smyrna will start Jan. 1. Unincorporated Cobb voters will decide on the issue March 6. Powder Springs and Austell also will vote in March.

I grew up in Alabama. There in the late ‘50s, we had what were known as dry counties with my county, Madison, being one of them. I was far from drinking age, but my dad wasn't. Maybe he shouldn't have, but on trips south of our hometown, Huntsville, he’d stop by an old cabin in the woods for some bootlegged spirits.

Temperance folks might point to this as a sin, subjecting children to the witness of a crime. However, when Madison became a wet county, it was in spite of the coalition of fundamentalists and bootleggers who had joined forces on past votes to keep whiskey, wine, and beer illegal. The fundamentalists got their imposed morals and the bootleggers stayed in business, paying no taxes, and plying their winked-at trade.

Even then, Madison was surrounded by dry counties for years. It was quite a mecca for the thirsty in neighboring towns and counties. Huntsville reaped tax benefits, attracted even more northerners with their space age jobs, and moved into the 20th century with the rest of the country. Sunday sales were finally permitted in Alabama some time before Georgia decided to wake up.

The overwhelming vote last month to permit Sunday sales in metro Atlanta jurisdictions shows how absurd it was for the Legislature to put this off for so long. The usual opposition, religious conservatives, stayed in the background.

But there are liquor store owners against Sunday sales. According to some, they will now be forced to stay open on Sunday just to keep up with the stores usually open Sunday anyway. They say they won’t get any rest, they’ll lose money, and all that. To them I say: look to the Chick-fil-A example and quit whining. Close up on Sunday. Who cares?

Sales could potentially start in unincorporated Cobb by June 3. Until then, I doubt I’d make an extra effort to visit those areas where liquor is for sale on Sunday. It isn't that hard to remember on Saturday that you’re running out of your favorite beverage and you’d better restock.

Opponents of Sunday sales said much the same thing. We drinkers have six days a week we can buy alcohol. True, but that’s not the point. We just wanted the chance to vote on it.

One of the best parts of this is I won’t be standing in line anymore at the grocery check-out witnessing the disappointed customer visiting from New York, wanting to take a bottle of wine to a luncheon with an old friend, only to be told Georgia doesn't allow the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Thank you citizens of Georgia for acting like, well, citizens. Cheers!

Craig Allen has lived in Cobb and Marietta for 10 years. Reach him at alle3257@bellsouth.net.