When Oklahoma County voters showed up to the polls on Tuesday aside from the presidential primaries there was another question on the ballot; whether or not to allow liquor stores to remain open on Sundays.
Just three years after voters approved changes to the state’s liquor laws allowing beer and wine to be sold in grocery stores. Voters have taken things a step forward. With 71% of the vote Oklahoma County residents passed the measure allowing liquor stores to be open seven days a week.
“As you can tell by the voter turnout, people want the option to buy their goods on Sunday from a liquor store," said Dale Blackburn, owner of Grand Cru Wine and Spirits on May Ave in Oklahoma City.
Blackburn has been in the liquor store business for over 22 years. Walking down one of 7 aisles in the store Blackburn pointed out all of the products that just four years ago he wasn’t allowed to carry.
“Club soda, tonic water, sandwiches, even olives,” he said. “I wasn’t even allowed to have refrigeration.”
That changed in 2016 when retail liquor stores were finally allowed to sell refrigerated products just like grocery stores.
“That was a step in the right direction,” Blackburn said. But being able to open on Sundays, “will really level the playing field.”
It is up to each liquor store owner to decide for themselves whether to be open on Sundays. But, many like Blackburn see the opportunity.
“So, all of us like myself work six days a week, this potentially will mean that I will work seven days a week. I can tell you right now that I don't want to do that but it's a necessity,” he said. “I believe we need to be able to have an opportunity to compete.”
Oklahoma County was not alone in its decision. Voters in six other counties approved similar proposals.
“The changes within the last five years have been amazing,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn said he was surprised that it had taken this long to advance the state's liquor laws.
"I really thought we would have more open laws around alcohol before marijuana ever got passed. But according to the vote, the people wanted their marijuana. So, I think they did what's right," he said.
Before the law can go into effect votes will still have to be certified. Once completed the law could go into effect as early as Sunday, March 13.