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Blue laws end this weekend in 9 Gwinnett cities

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Jerry Oberholtzer and his son Matthew were looking for a special kind of beer in the grocery store earlier this week, but the store had sold out of the drink.

So the pair planned a trip to the store Sunday -- just because they can.

"We're old enough to make our own decisions," said Oberholtzer, who recently left office as Snellville's mayor after years of battling the political bear of Georgia's blue laws.

This weekend marks the first Sunday where package sales are allowed in many parts of the state, after 13 Gwinnett cities approved referenda earlier this month.

Winder became the first city to launch the new law last week, and today, in Gwinnett, the beer and wine aisles in grocery stores will remain open in the cities of Auburn, Braselton, Duluth, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Snellville, Suwanee and Sugar Hill.

"It's not going to change my spending habits, but it was frustrating that we have to sometimes do our shopping on Saturdays," Tom Kennedy said of the old laws.

"I would buy beer on Sunday, if the opportunity were available," he said, adding that is his family's usual day to go to the grocery store. With many of his favorite recipes calling for some wine, they often had to add a trip. "It's nice to know that I could."

Kennedy lives in unincorporated Gwinnett County, where residents are now scheduled to take up the matter in a March referendum.

And he lives closest to the city of Lilburn, where changes to the local laws may not go into effect until the beginning of the year. So he may have to drive around to find a store where he can purchase on Sunday.

But after years in which buying beer and wine on the Sabbath was frowned upon, the laws are quickly changing.

In addition to the nine Gwinnett cities were Sunday sales begin today, Loganville's ordinances will allow sales next Sunday, Nov. 27.

While Dacula and Lilburn officials expect to wait until January, Berkeley Lake residents approved a referendum as well and will begin allowing Sunday sales as soon as the first business that sells beer and wine opens in the city.