Many package store owners against Governor’s proposal to expand hours

MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Malloy is hoping to raise more money for the state by expanding the hours package stores can stay open, but that has gotten more jeers than cheers from some liquor store owners.

If passed, the expanded hours would be optional, and some owners say they would opt out. Windjammer Wine & Spirits in Mystic already opts out during the week. It closes at 8 p.m. weekdays and only stays open the extra hour Friday and Saturday nights.

“I don’t see the hour making the difference, especially in an area like this where it is a lot quieter, even at night,” said owner Amber Divine.

But on the other end of Stonington, closer to the Rhode Island border, some stay open until 9 p.m. to compete with Ocean State stores. which can stay open until 10 p.m. weekdays and 6 p.m. on Sunday.

“It doesn’t affect me as much, but for someone right on the line I could see it affect them a little bit more,” said Divine.

Governor Malloy wants to expand Connecticut hours from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays, a move he believes could generate $3.3 million for the state.

Divine says Windjammer would still stay closed Sunday, a day she reserves for her family. It’s a decision her customers support. Some, though, may cross the border when buying hard liquor. Rhode Island doesn’t tax liquor. It only taxes wine and beer.

“If I was right on the border I could see them possibly going over the border just because, yes, it is cheaper,” said Divine.

The one thing many local store owners do not want to see passed is the governor’s push to get rid of minimum pricing. Divine says minimum pricing means stores cannot charge less than that minimum price on a bottle of liquor. But if that is eliminated she says big stores can buy in bulk and may charge rock bottom prices with which the smaller stores cannot compete, putting them out of business.

The governor says creating that kind of competition will benefit consumers.

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