IND In-Depth - Sunday Liquor Sales-1 (copy)

Sales Associate Ben Semro assists a customer picking up a case of beer from Bridge Liquors in New Albany in this file photo. 

SOUTHERN INDIANA — The first time Keg Liquors opened its doors to customers on a Sunday more than one year ago, owner Todd Antz was skeptical.

It was March 4, 2018, the day a new state law went into effect permitting the sale of carryout alcohol on Sundays. Business was brisk and customers were happy. But as far as the longterm impact on revenue, Antz skeptically speculated, "it's going to take what I made in six days and I'm going to make it in seven."

He was right.

"It's done exactly what I thought it would do, which is it has pulled sales from other days," Antz said by phone Tuesday, more than a year since the new law.

Both Keg Liquors locations — one in Clarksville and one in New Albany — have seen a downtick in Saturday and Monday sales. But Antz said, "thankfully, for us, it's evened out."

"So we're not losing money, but it has definitely cost us money to essentially make the same amount that we used to."

Antz had to hire a few more employees to cover the extra day of business every week, plus there are the added expenses of utilities and insurance. Both stores are open from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays; the law permits businesses to operate from noon to 8 p.m.

So, if overall sales aren't significantly up, what's in it for Keg Liquors?

"In the end, it is all about customer convenience," Antz said.

Tanaya Crawford works the day shift at Bridge Liquors in New Albany most days, including Sunday. Crawford said a typical Sunday is "really busy."

"It's definitely played a role and it's been worth it. As soon as 12 o' clock comes, we already have a line waiting out in the parking lot," she said. "And to be honest, if we would stay open later, I'm sure they would come later."

For now, the store is open noon to 6 p.m. Crawford said she wants to propose the idea of staying open until 8 p.m., especially as summer sales pick up.

Fabulous Liquor Land in Jeffersonville also closes at 6 p.m., but owners are considering an 8 p.m. closing time for the summer. Kerry Parker, whose husband is one of three owners, doesn't doubt that there would be customers during those extra two hours.

"Because while we're still here [at closing time], there's still people coming in."

Customers were excited for the store to open on Sundays, and Parker said the new business hours have even drawn in locals who previously hadn't known about the store.

One downside, she said, is that Sundays used to be a time to take care of orders, take inventory and re-stock. And, of course, rest.

"It's harder now if you're trying to serve or fix anything or rearrange stuff because people are coming and going the whole time," she said. "So you've either gotta get here before 12 p.m. or stay after 6 p.m."

Kelly Wilson thinks the liquor store where she works, Sellersburg Liquor Store, sees more traffic between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

"Because all the rest of the stores seem to close around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., and I stay until 8 p.m., so I catch everything else after everyone else closes."

Antz, of Keg Liquors, thinks the noon to 5 p.m. window is the sweet spot and doesn't plan to extend his stores' regular hours. Some liquor stores have put their foot down even harder, not opening at all on Sundays.

Crystalyn Evaline is a manager at Al's Cut Rate Liquor Store in Jeffersonville. The same owners also run Point Package Liquors in Jeffersonville. Neither store is open on Sundays. Evaline says that's simply because they don't think it's worth it. She said customers are used to getting their carryout alcohol on Fridays and Saturdays, and the owners aren't worried about missing out on Sunday sales.

But Antz says not opening on Sundays didn't feel like an option for Keg Liquors.

"If we're not open on Sunday, I just see that as complete, lost revenue."

Elizabeth DePompei is the digital editor for The News and Tribune. She has degrees in journalism and film from the University of Cincinnati and CUNY's Hunter College and was previously the paper's criminal justice reporter.