13 Gwinnett cities to hold Sunday sales votes Tuesday



LAWRENCEVILLE -- Georgia's blue laws kept Sunday sacrosanct for decades.

But over the years, things have changed.

Stores and restaurants are now often open on Sundays, save Chick-fil-A, which has famously kept the Sabbath holy.

And with votes, some very controversial, communities have opened up taps at restaurants on weekends, while also allowing liquor by the drink.

But Georgia remained one of the few places in the country where you couldn't pick up a six-pack at the local grocery store on Sundays.

That could change soon in many parts of the state, including 13 cities in Gwinnett.

"We've heard from our consumers that they would like to vote on it," said Glen Wilkins, a spokesman for Walmart. For many, "this is the day that we shop."

Many of the local Walmarts and grocery stores are located within the limits of the 13 cities that will have hold referenda Tuesday, including Snellville, Lawrenceville and Lilburn.

But others, like the Hamilton Mill and Centerville locations are in unincorporated Gwinnett County, where commissioners decided against placing the issue on this year's ballot.

Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said leaders decided they did not want to have an issue that would distract from a vote on an education sales tax, but that means that, if the city referenda pass, laws will be different depending on the store that you visit.

Brenda Reid, a spokesman for Publix, said that issue could be solved simply by programming computers at the local supermarkets.

"Of course, we will follow the law if certain cities want to you can only (buy at certain times)," she said.

"Our primary goal is to be able to serve our customers," Reid said, adding that local managers would be able to help customers find another nearby supermarket if they can't buy beer there. "We are accustomed to telling customers it is not available."

Wilkins agreed that his stores would make the best of the situation.

"We'll do everything we can to keep that customer, inside the confines of the law," he said of people would could find another store if the locale doesn't allow Sunday sales. "We don't want to lose that customers, but we don't have any control about it."

City residents can vote on the issue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the cities of Auburn, Berkeley Lake, Braselton, Dacula, Duluth, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville, Norcross, Snellville, Sugar Hill and Suwanee. Votes will also be held in the city of Winder and Barrow County.