Liquor stores oppose bill allowing them to open on Thanksgiving

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STATE HOUSE — A group of package store owners on Tuesday came out against a bill that would allow them to open their shops and make liquor sales on Thanksgiving, arguing the business wouldn’t be worth the loss of family time.

“We have lives just like the other residents of the community and there are so few days left in the year for any of us to have time with our families,” Massachusetts Package Stores Association Executive Director Frank Anzalotti told the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. “We’ve always looked at Thanksgiving Day as probably the single, only family day of celebration when people have a chance to get together, and we view Thanksgiving Day as one that should remain closed so store owners have this opportunity.”

Anzalotti testified against a bill (H 190) filed by Rep. Colleen Garry, a Dracut Democrat, that would remove Thanksgiving from the list of days when liquor stores cannot open. Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and Christmas are the three holidays when liquor stores are banned from opening under state law.

Committee co-chair Sen. Barbara L’Italien, whose district overlaps with Garry’s, said during the hearing that the representative was driven to file the bill because she represents a community along the New Hampshire border, where retailers compete with liquor stores across state lines that operate under different regulations.

In response, Anzalotti said that there’s often disagreement within his organization and individual store owners near the New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island borders might feel differently about Thanksgiving openings.

“I think if we took a poll of our entire membership, it would weigh heavily against opening,” Anzalotti said.

The owners of Kappy’s Fine Wines and Spirits in Everett, Sav-Mor Liquors in Somerville and Huntington Wine and Spirits in Boston, all members of the package store association’s board, each told the committee they were against allowing Thanksgiving openings.

“If Kappy’s was to open on Thanksgiving, then I would have to open as well,” said Sav-Mor owner Ben Weiner. “That’s how things work in our business.”

Huntington owner Steve Rubin said that Thanksgiving openings wouldn’t make financial sense. He said the week around the holiday, when the city’s college students go home to visit their families, is the slowest of the year at his store, located near Northeastern University.

— Written by Katie Lannan

Copyright State House News Service