Sunday sales a plus for Flomaton
August 22, 2019
It took a while, but Monday afternoon the Flomaton Town Council voted to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
Flomaton followed the steps first taken by Atmore when Atmore became the first municipality in Escambia County, Ala., to allow Sunday alcohol sales. Atmore did it under the old law that took a unanimous vote resolution by the town council to ask the county's legislative delegation of State Representatives Alan Baker and Mike Jones along with State Sen. Greg Albritton to get a local bill passed by the Alabama Legislature to allow the Sunday sales.
When Flomaton first approached this issue I talked with Atmore Mayor Jim Staff. He said the same thing Flomaton Mayor Dewey Bondurant Jr., was saying – the towns bordering the Florida line were losing a lot of tax revenue to Florida on Sundays because they sold alcohol.
Staff told me the biggest winners in Atmore were probably the grocery stores that saw their Sunday total sales jump significantly.
It wasn't just the beer sales that increased the overall sales, it was everything else. Somebody's getting ready to cook out on the grill Sunday afternoon and they need steaks, potatoes, salad, charcoal and other items, but also want beer. They could get all of that at the Piggly Wiggly just across the line in Davisville so they didn't make a stop in Atmore to buy the food and then cross the line to get the beer.
I remember hearing the same story from Lovelace Parker years ago who ran Big Bear Superfoods in East Brewton. For many years, Big Bear didn't sell beer at all, much less on Sundays. When the store added beer, the overall total sales increased. Much like the story I heard from Mayor Staff, Parker said people didn't like to make two stops so they were buying their groceries at stores in Brewton that sold beer.
Like Staff, Parker said the increase wasn't from beer sales, it was from all the other things people buy at a grocery store when they light up the grill or are simply heading home to eat fried chicken.
Flomaton doesn't have a grocery store, but it does have several convenience stores that were able to sell beer Monday through Saturday. They were all losing money a few hundred yards down the road for people from Brewton and other areas coming to buy beer on Sundays. If the stores in Flomaton would lower their gasoline rates to at least be competitive with Brewton they might be able to sell some gasoline along with the beer. You can head to Baker's in Canoe and save about 30 cents a gallon compared to Flomaton. But that's another story in itself.
We can't do anything about people from Brewton coming down to Century to purchase lottery tickets because our Legislature won't even let us vote on the matter. If beer and lottery tickets are on the menu, Sunday sales won't help very much. But again, that's a story in itself.
The Sunday sale of alcohol will raise additional revenue for the town of Flomaton. Without a grocery store, it won't be as much as Atmore but if you attend a Flomaton council meeting and watch them sweat over money, any new revenue will be a blessing.
I'm also an optimistic that one day a chain restaurant like Applebee's or Ruby Tuesday's will take a serious look at Flomaton due to the high traffic count coming off of Highway 113. I've seen restaurants like that stay clear of areas that didn't allow Sunday alcohol sales.
To me the best thing that came with the journey of Flomaton trying to legalize Sunday sales was taking the Alabama Legislature out of the equation. The new law passed during the last session allows municipalities, like Flomaton, and counties to make that decision on their own. They don't have to jump through the hoops of getting a local bill passed by every member of the Alabama Legislature to do what they think is in the best interest of their respective town, city or county.
While I understand some people have reservations about Sunday alcohol sales, many of those same people don't want to see their water and bills increase, or see their police, fire or maintenance crews cut to the point they can't do an adequate job.
Monday's vote was good for the town of Flomaton. It's a step in the right direction to help everyone in town.