BRISTOL, Va. - Grabbing a bottle of wine or liquor could get easier on weekends; this summer big changes are coming to liquor stores in Southwest Virginia. But News 5 found out not everyone's okay with that.
Since turning 21 Nick Cross has been able to drink liquor on Sundays, but he's never been able to buy it.
Next month that's all about to change. Starting July 1, all ABC stores in the state of Virginia can be open on Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. A third wave of Sunday liquor legislation passed the Virginia General Assembly this year, adding the five extra hours of ABC operation at their stores across the state.
For the first time it includes stores in southwest Virginia. Fourth District Virginia House delegate Joe Johnson explained to us that even with the law passed, it is still plenty controversial. "[To] sum it up, southwest Virginia is known as [the] Bible Belt," Johnson said.
In fact, it didn't take long for us to find people in our community who feel Sundays aren't meant to stock up on liquor. "Sundays are the Sabbath day. You're supposed to rest. If people feel strongly enough to buy the alcohol, I think they could probably do it another day of the week," said Cyndi Stein who believes ABC stores should stay closed on Sunday.
One of the main reasons Johnson believes there's such a push for sales on Sunday is because it's a big business. ABC officials told News 5 their stores made $121 million of profit that went straight to the state's general fund last year.
But even ignoring economic impact, many like Cross feel it's a matter of convenience and just makes sense. "If people want to drink, and they can control it, then I think it's okay. It [doesn't] matter what day they drink," Cross said.
We asked ABC officials about local ordinances that ban the sale of alcohol on Sundays. They told us they honor all of those, but no stores have been impacted by existing local laws.
We also checked with Bristol, Virginia city officials and learned as of Friday, there has been no discussion of changing the law to stop liquor sales on Sunday.