While new Connecticut liquor laws please many Fairfield students, sentiments among package store owners in the area are quite the opposite.

This past week, Connecticut’s General Law Committee approved a selection of Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s new liquor sale bill, permitting the sale of alcohol in small grocery stores and supermarkets, as well as package stores for the first time in the state’s history.

Most notably, the current bill legalizes liquor sales on Sundays and most holidays- causing a rift between small package stores and Malloy’s liquor crusade.  Although this is a small victory for the Malloy administration, the current bill was not accepted in full.

Liquor sales are still only allowed until 9:00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and restaurants and bars will not be allowed open until 2:00 a.m. every night as proposed.  Also, according to ct.gov, the allowance some convenience stores to sell beer only, the elimination of state-wide distributor discounts and minimum alcohol price regulations were all rejected with the first voting of Malloy’s new liquor bill.

While Malloy’s bill entitled “Modernizing Connecticut’s Liquor Laws” seeks to prevent CT citizens from buying alcohol in neighboring states both on Sunday, as well as in bulk from larger retailers, Malloy seems to forget that by giving supermarkets the right to sell liquor, profits will be going out of the state anyway.

Just out of the supermarkets in Fairfield alone; Stop & Shop is based in Quincy, Massachusetts; ShopRite in Keasbey, New Jersey and Whole Foods in Austin, Texas.

And where are traditional Connecticut package stores located?

Harry’s Wine and Liquor Market on Post Road in Fairfield has been in business for seventy years and longtime owner Patrick Monteleone and his family have always lived in Connecticut.

Like other small package store owners, Monteleone and his colleagues do not see a connection between Malloy’s goal to keep liquor sales in CT and the release of liquor rights to large supermarkets that are based out-of-state.

Monteleone believes that Malloy is “fixing something that isn’t broken” by changing CT liquor policies stating that seemingly people in CT are less dependent on big businesses and more reliant on small “mom and pop” stores.  But with the recession, smaller stores cannot compete with larger chains as easily.

They cannot buy in bulk like larger corporations, leading to the closure of bakeries, hardware stores, butchers, traditional drugstores and now package stores.

For Monteleone, the realization is harsh.

In his opinion, the country is moving in a “back to basics trend,” placing emphasis on supporting local business and changing CT liquor laws does not seem on point.

Similarly, the owner of Fairfield Wine and Spirits stated that, realistically, “after the laws come into effect it will only be six to nine months until my store can’t compete and myself and my nine employees will be out of work,” continuing to say that “small businesses are the job engines in CT that can keep the economy going.”

“Supermarkets and other ‘big box’ stores will have a limited selection and a lack of service.  When you come into my store, I have tasted all the wines, know all the vodkas and when you ask me about my liquor- my service is unmatched.  That’s just not going to be the case in large retailers,” he said.

If these small package stores disappear- what happens to the CT economy, not to mention the quality of service and selection?

In stark contrast, every Fairfield student surveyed was in favor of the new laws- not stopping to realize how they will impact the larger picture.

Although the law means cheaper kegs and alcohol on Superbowl Sunday, the lasting impacts on the CT economy do not coincide with student excitement.

Students, however, do make some good points.

Like Malloy, Christian Ford ‘12 agrees that new laws “make sense socially and economically and now people won’t have to leave the state on Sundays or after 9:00 p.m.”

His roommates Cam Foote and Kevin Tellie, also seniors, noted that CT is the only state besides Indiana that bans all alcohol sales on Sunday and “CT is finally getting with the times.”  Foote also jokes that Sunday liquor sales may only further feelings of senioritis- a sentiment shared by many living at the beach.

“No liquor on Sunday is so old-fashioned,” said Nick DiFato ‘12, noting that “Sunday values” go back to the beginnings of CT history- and the state has progressed so much since then.  His roommate Keith Brocker agreed, saying that these laws should have happened years ago, “It just doesn’t match the needs of CT citizens today,” he said.

However, Fairfield students can still help out local businesses.

It is not a bad thing that students are excited about Sunday liquor and potentially later bar times.   By continuing to support stores like Fairfield Wine and Spirits, Harry’s and Mo’s we can help to keep smaller “mom and pop” package stores alive, while still getting all the Sunday liquor that we want.

Monteleone left his interview with The Mirror on a positive note, stating that he “hopes that looking forward, Harry’s and many of the other stores in the area will be able to withstand the changes to the CT liquor laws and stay as new laws come into effect.”

They can’t do it without Fairfield student support!

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