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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Convenience store owners in New York will face increased competition for liquor sales after the State Liquor Authority (SLA) told wine and liquor store owners they could open Sundays starting this week, if they remain closed one other day each week.
The SLA said it would be getting forms to the state's 2,484 wine and liquor store licensees that would allow them to do business on Sundays from noon to 9 p.m. They have to designate another day they'd be closed.
"The State Liquor Authority is working expeditiously to implement the provisions of this legislation," SLA spokesman Mark Johnson said.
Proponents of the liquor sales provision said Sunday is potentially the second most lucrative day of the week for liquor sales after Saturday. They predict that letting stores open Sunday and close on a lower sales-volume day could generate up to $26 million more through higher taxes on liquor and wine starting in 2004.
The state Legislature included six-day-a-week liquor sales -- including Sundays -- in the budget they approved in late April, then restored it last week over Gov. George Pataki's veto. The sale of liquor or wine for off-premises consumption has been banned since before Prohibition. Like other "blue laws," the ban had its origins in more religious-oriented times when commerce on Sunday was thought to violate the Sabbath, according to the Associated Press.
On Monday, the liquor authority raised questions about the legality of stores trying to open this Sunday. The Daily Gazette of Schenectady quoted Johnson, the SLA spokesman, as saying that any liquor or wine store owner that was open Sunday would do so "at their own peril."
The authority warned owners opening their liquor stores on Sunday would be subject to arrest and to having their liquor licenses rescinded.