County business owners say Sunday sales needed for fairness

Published 3:00 am Saturday, February 10, 2018

With a bill now in the Alabama House of Representatives, Sunday alcohol could be allowed in Pike County within weeks. Several business owners say the sooner, the better.

“I’ve been in this business all my life,” said Al Roton, owner of the Banks Buy Rite. “I wish the law had stayed as it has been for years with a level playing field, but things change. I wish the county had voted when Troy voted, but we didn’t get to. It puts some retail businesses at a disadvantage.”

A bill is currently in the House that would authorize the Pike County Commission to vote on the issue directly or hold a referendum for the citizens of the county.

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“We elected our commissioners to make decisions that affect our lives every day,” Roton said. “We should let them make the decision that would put alcohol sales back on a level playing field. I’m very proud of our commissioners. They make decision on our taxes and roads, we should let them make this decision.”

Two commissioners – Chad Copeland and Russell Johnson – have said they favor putting the issue to a referendum while three commissioners – Homer Wright, Charlie Harris and Jimmy Barron – have said they favor “voting at the table.”

Harry Sanders, county administrator, said he believes the commission will act on the issue as soon as possible.

Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Pike, who is bringing the bill forward in the House, said the bill should be on the governor’s desk within the next two weeks if the process goes as smoothly as expected.

Stanley Garrett, owner of the Brundidge Piggly Wiggly, said his biggest concern is serving the customers and alleviating confusion.

“Right now it is very confusing to customers,” Garrett said. “They don’t understand why they can’t get it 10 miles down the road where they normally shop.”

Garrett says he has had customers hoping to buy alcohol on Sundays ever since the ordinance in Troy was passed.

“We’ve had it every Sunday, all afternoon,” Garrett said. “We will probably have five or six people every one or two hours. We didn’t really have that problem before. When we did it would be someone travelling from Florida.”

Kenny Pinckard, owner of Pinckard’s gas station at Enzor Road and Alabama Highway 87, said the confusion is particularly bad at his location because it is so close to the Troy city limits.

“A lot of people get mad because they think we can sell it because they don’t know we’re not inside the city limits,” Pinckard said. “But there’s nothing we can do about it; it’s the law.”

Like Roton, Pinckard said he doesn’t care so much about selling alcohol on Sundays as much as the lost sales the disadvantage creates.

“It puts us at a disadvantage if people can go a mile up the road and get it,” Pinckard said. “They aren’t just going to get their alcohol there, they’re going to get their gas, snacks and anything else there too. The last two Sundays that has happened. … That’s the biggest disadvantage – losing another sale you normally would’ve gotten. It seems like Sundays have been a couple hundred dollars slower, and Sundays have always been slow. I cant blame people for going up the road either.”

Pinckard said he also supports the commissioners voting directly on the issue. He said a referendum would have been good if held at the same time as Troy’s, but waiting for the November election now would keep county businesses at a disadvantage for too long.