FLORENCE— – Voters helped Florence retailers level the sales field Tuesday when they overwhelmingly approved a proposal allowing retailers to obtain permits to sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption on Sundays.
With all precincts reporting, 71% of the 7,324 voters said yes to Sunday beer and wine sales for off-premises consumption. No votes accounted for 29%.
Retailers who already hold state permits to sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption will be able to seek a permit to add Sunday sales.
The Florence City Council approved an ordinance earlier this year to put the beer-and-wine sales referendum on the November ballot.
Several nearby cities – Darlington and Lake City – already allow retailers to sell beer and wine on Sundays, which meant Florence retailers often lost revenue to retailers in those cities on Sundays. People would go to Lake City and Darlington retailers to purchase beer or wine on Sundays. However, they often would purchase food and other items while shopping.
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In an Oct. 20 story in the Morning News, Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce President Mike Miller said Florence retailers were at a direct disadvantage because of the Sunday beer and wine sales prohibition.
“Many times, those that drive the extra two or three miles outside the city limits to get beer or wine on a Sunday will also purchase other retail products there as well,” he said.
Wednesday, Miller called the approval of beer and wine sales a victory for Florence retailers.
“It’s a win for our local retailers who previously could sell beer or wine six other days of the week but lose out to surrounding communities on Sunday. It’s not just about beer or wine, but the other products they may purchase outside the city while shopping,” he said.
Newer residents expect to be able to purchase beer and wine at retailers on Sundays, Miller said. Sunday beer and wine sales also will help Florence with industrial recruitment.
“This vote helps us in leveling the field in retailing and in expected community perspectives in recruiting and relocation efforts,” he said.
Florence Baptist Temple Pastor Bill Monroe, Trinity Baptist Church Senior Pastor Calvin Robinson, First Baptist Church Rev. Michael Crawford led a campaign opposing the beer and wine sales.The town of Johnsonville also approved a proposal for allowing the Sunday sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption.
The vote was much closer with 52% approving the proposal and 48% rejecting it.