What A (Sun)day: Sunday Alcohol Sales Begin

Mar 5, 2018

For other states it was just another Sunday.

Hoosiers commemorated an historic day by buying a cold one.

At 11:52 a.m., the first car pulls into the Village Bottle Shoppe on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette.

It’s eight minutes until the liquor stores opens its doors on a Sunday for the first time in state history.

Political analyst John Ketzenberger says the crowd assembling at this and other package stores is due to a cultural shift.

“It took an agreement basically with all the different retailers to say, sure we’ll open on Sunday, for this to happen,” Ketzenberger says. “Because I think if that agreement hadn’t occurred, we wouldn’t be talking about Sunday sales.”

As the clock struck noon, doors opened for the public.

Village Bottle Shoppe manager Nathan Kuchler said he expected to see a trickle of customers throughout the day.

“With everyone knowing they have eight hours to shop today for spirits and beer and what not, I think they’ll just mosey on in as convenient for them,” Kuchler says.

Customers continued wandering in, including Jeanine Parsch, a lifelong Hoosier who says she’s here to celebrate.

“Well it’s a historic day, I mean who wouldn’t want to come out and buy themselves some cold beer? I mean it’s Sunday, the sun is shining, what more could you ask for?” Parsch says.

Indiana’s Sunday sales ban started out with puritanical worry about the vices of booze.

Over time, entrenched alcohol lobbies at the statehouse became convinced it wasn’t in their interest to change.

Bills had been filed for years to try to change the law, failing over and over due to political pressure and messy legislative language.

Political analyst Ketzenberger says this year’s bill wasn’t turned into a so-called “Christmas tree,” with amendments hanging on like unwanted ornaments that legislators could use as excuses not to change the law.

“It would have been easy to lard it up with amendments and crush it, but they were able to get it through,” he says. “And that was because there was a lot of legislative discipline on this particular bill.”

Growing up in Indiana, Parsch says she’s used to buying beer ahead of time and doesn’t see Sunday sales changing her schedule.

But she appreciates knowing it’s now an option.

“It’s nice to be able to not have those limitations on me so that if something would come up, I could do it,” Parsch says. “This is an antiquated law, it was silly, and I’m glad it’s, you know, finally been put to rest.”

That’s also what lawmakers appeared to finally realize last Wednesday when Governor Eric Holcomb signed the bill – that Hoosiers want convenience and previous concerns about flooding the state with alcohol seem overblown.

Ketzenberger agrees.

“As far as a big bump in sales, or that kind of thing, I think that economically it’s probably going to be a pretty flat situation. I don’t think you’re going to see a lot more consumption,” Ketzenberger says.

To mark the special day, Parsch decided to change things up in her purchase.

“I went for this [Bell’s] Consecrator Doppelbock beer. I’m normally a dark beer lover,” Parsch says. “I love myself a good Bell’s Porter, but I thought I’d try something a little different today since this is such a historic occasion.”

There’s more discussion to come – about whether more than just liquor stores may sell cold beer, for instance.

But on Sunday, Hoosiers found the state’s ability to change at all a move worth raising a glass to.