By Bryan K. Alfaro | THE EASTERN ECHO
Added December 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm
Ypsilanti business owner Paul Ajlouny of Eagles Market, 501 W. Cross St., said purchasing a permit from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to sell alcohol before noon on Sundays was an easy decision for him.
“Demand, simple as that,” he said. “I always had people coming in and asking for liquor before noon [on Sundays].”
Ajlouny, who has owned the market for eight years, said he applied last week for the permit, which he hasn’t received yet, but doubts the store will change hours to open earlier than 11 a.m. on Sundays.
“I don’t expect this to make any money for me or anything dramatic,” he said. “It’s just a service, people want it.”
Even though the Sunday permits now allow alcohol sales after 12 p.m. on Christmas Day, Ajlouny said the store isn’t likely to be open Dec. 25; previous legislation banned sales from 9 p.m. Dec. 24 through 7 a.m. Dec. 26.
“I don’t have any intentions to open for Christmas because I celebrate Christmas,” he said. “Unless I have an employee who doesn’t [celebrate] and insists on working, maybe we will for a few hours, but I have no plans to open for Christmas.”
Ajlouny added he doesn’t believe the permits should have been necessary in the first place.
“I never understood the purpose of the law of the Sunday sales anyway; they call them blue laws,” he said. “These are the laws from the Pilgrims’ days, so they don’t make sense nowadays. But it’s a way for them to make more money by asking for the $160 application fee.”
As of Dec. 1, the MLCC reported sales of Sunday permits has generated about $950,000 in state revenue, with almost 6,000 permits being sold since the law was enacted Dec. 19, 2010.
The MLCC also reported 178 Sunday permits were sold to businesses in Washtenaw County, making it the sixth county in the state with the most permits purchased: trailing the counties of Wayne (1,071), Oakland (712), Macomb (515), Kent (281) and Inham (179).
The law does allow local governments to opt out of allowing early Sunday sales; several municipalities near Washtenaw County have chosen to do so, including Flint City and Township, Commerce, Royal Oak and Freedom townships and Garden and Albion City, according to the MLCC.
Store manager Martin Jarbo, of Washtenaw Liquor, 1519 Washtenaw Rd., said he disagreed with the law and thought the permit wasn’t worth it.
“We’re religious people, and we don’t believe in opening before noon before church lets out to sell alcohol,” Jarbo said. “I think the state are criminals for trying to sell alcohol on Christmas Day and 7 a.m. on Sundays. I think they’ll do anything just to generate revenue.”
Jarbo said he didn’t believe in early Sunday sales morally but added it’s a free country and people should be able to “do their thing.”
“Some people just want their booze,” he said. “I can understand it for towns with boating and, you know, activities of those natures. You know sporting events, downtown Detroit, Lions games, stuff like that. Regular old towns don’t need it, I don’t think.”
Despite his disapproval of the permits, Jarbo said it’s logical for stores already open before noon to purchase the permit.
“It makes sense for them,” he said. “You’re already open, why try and fight off somebody trying to buy a beer?”
Jessica Wilkes, 19, a freshman at Eastern Michigan University majoring in journalism, said she likes the early Sunday permit idea but was a little leery about the 7 a.m. starting time.
“I don’t know if I’d wake up to do that,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes said she wasn’t aware of Michigan’s normal 2 a.m. cutoff for alcohol sales; she’s originally from Chicago, where it’s 4 a.m. in most areas.
“I’d like to just get rid of [cutoff times] and just have it be 24 hours,” she said. “Because I mean, what if it’s like four and I run out and I want to get more?”
Wilkes said her dad would probably not agree with her idea, but her mom would probably side with her.
“I think it [would] bring in even more revenue if they make it 24 hours,” she said.
She was surprised to find out almost 6,000 permits were sold in Michigan in under a year.
“There’s a lot of alcohol drinkers in this state,” Wilkes said.
Ned Bajawa, owner of the Keg Party Store, 534 N. Huron St., said his business will not be changing its Sunday hours or applying for a permit.
“Even if [customers] requested, we’re not intending to open earlier,” he said.
Bajawa said he sees no problem with the state raising funds by selling permits.
“If the state benefits off that it’s fine,” he said. “I mean if we’re helping the state, the state helps us.”
He said he was not surprised at the number of permits sold in Washtenaw County.
“Look where we are, college town,” he said. “So is U of M. That’s Washtenaw County.”
Amir Kay, manager at Tom’s Party Store, 500 W. Cross St., said the business did not intend to purchase an early sales permit, in part because the store didn’t open until 12 p.m. on Sunday.
“[There’s] no customer demand for it that early on Sunday,” Kay said.
He said the store isn’t usually open on Christmas Day either.
“The students are all gone,” he said. “Everybody is usually with their families at the time.”
Eastern Echo article archive: Locals Discuss Liquor Sales Permit