At their meeting last night, the town’s Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the sale of liquor on Sunday in Wilton by a vote of 5-0. This followed a special town hearing to solicit comments from the public before deciding whether to amend the current ordinance to allow Sunday sales.
Two package store owners–Mitch Ancona, of Ancona’s Wines and Liquors, and Mark Abrahamson, of Wilton Wine Shoppe–both spoke at the meeting, telling the selectmen of how business competition from stores in surrounding towns that allow Sunday sales has put them at a disadvantage.
“You have Total Wine three miles down the street from us, who have put a hurt on us and every store in the community, particularly the ones in Norwalk. Elmer’s closed. To turn customers away on Sunday to go to Total Wine, it hurts. We fought hard to get our stores into this town, and thankfully we were granted that privilege. And to hinder us might put us in jeopardy, it goes against everything we worked on, for the town and for us,” Abrahamson argued.
“Since we started opening on Sunday in Ridgefield, we average 180 customers. Multiply that times 52 Sundays a year, averaging two bottles of wine and a six-pack, it’s a pretty substantial number of sales for Wilton that’s potentially going someplace else. For me to stay a viable business in the town of Wilton, in the industry that I’m in, I need to be open on Sunday. It’s hurting me not to be open,” Ancona said.
Two residents spoke at the hearing in opposition to the ordinance change, including Deborah McFadden. She cited “the ambiance, the family values, and the sense of values you find in this community” and said, “I just don’t see how changing this regulation will enhance the values we have as a community, and I am against this.”
However, the selectmen heard very few other voices opposing the proposal. First Selectman Bill Brennan noted that his office received 21 letters, all only in support of allowing Sunday alcohol sales and none against. He explained why he supported making the change to allow package stores to open a seventh day:
“If a retailer doesn’t want to have doors open, he doesn’t have to. It’s not like you’re being forced to open. Most wilton citizens have extremely busy schedules, and Sunday shopping has become a convenience factor for many families in Wilton. There are many stores open on a Sunday, you go to Stop & Shop, Village Market, so people are shopping on a regular basis on Sunday. If someone has to get a bottle of wine, and they have to drive to Norwalk, it’s inconvenient. And it’s also likely that person will continue to do the rest of their shopping in Norwalk or elsewhere. We’re trying to retain our existing business base and build on that base. I don’t think Sunday sales is really such a big deal. Sunday sales hours exist throughout the state of CT.”
The other four selectmen also spoke in support of the amendment, citing a desire to support the small businesses, and, “to help them level the playing field,” as Richard Dubow said. They all said and that they couldn’t really see any reason to vote against it, and felt that doing so would hurt the businesses instead.
Very sensible. Not to ignore our Puritan roots here in New England or anything, but it *is* 2013. And if we want our local retailers to succeed against their very nearby competition, we can’t put pointless obstacles in their way. The idea that I can go into Bon Appetit and consume a bottle’s worth of wine on Sunday, but I can’t go next door to Ancona’s and purchase the same amount in a sealed bottle to consume at home was just non-sensical.
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