Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced a package of policies seeking to make Connecticut competitive with surrounding states when it comes to the sale of alcohol.
The announcement, made Saturday afternoon at Enfield Town Hall, represents a change in direction for the entire state, Malloy said.
"Today I take a step forward in making Connecticut competitive with surrounding states and, at the same time, moving in the direction of being pro-consumer," he the governor said.
At the heart of Malloy's package, which must be passed by the state legislature, is the sale of alcohol on Sundays, certain holidays and on Mondays that come after Sunday holidays.
Allowing Sunday and holiday sales is meant to increase sales at stores in towns that border Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York — sales that represent an estimated $570 million in lost revenue, Malloy said.
"I think the governor has done a fantastic job with this," said Dominic Alaimo, owner of Freshwater Package Store on Route 5 in Enfield.
"Finally we have a governor that didn't listen to the lobbyists and listened to the consumers. ... It's a tremendous amount of money that's been going over the border and God knows Connecticut can use it."
The package includes a number of measures in addition to legalizing Sunday and holiday sales, which border-town shops have rquested for decades, but many shops located in central Connecticut have resisted.
"To the owners of shops [that haven't felt the competition], I say that 'We're working with you,'" said Malloy.
"We're going to allow you to sell other items, and we're going to create a marketplace."
Connecticut is currently one of two states in the nation that does not allow the sale of alcohol outside of restaurants and bars.
Specifics of what Malloy's office called "modernizing Connecticut's Liquor Laws" include:
- The creation of a statewide "medallion" system (in addition to standard package store licenses), which will be given to all current package store owners to reflect their right to expanded business options.
- Package and grocery stores will be allowed to sell alcohol until 10 p.m. if they choose to do so.
- Restaurants and bars can stay open and serve alcohol until 2 a.m. (subject to local ordinances).
- Some small convenience stores will be given the option of selling beer.
- Package stores will be allowed to sell goods in addition to alcohol, including snack food, cheese, crackers, chips and other items thought to be "complementary" to alcohol consumption.
- Price posting, minimum bottle and quantity discount laws will be eliminated.
- Grocery stores will be allowed to operate separate package stores.
- One person or LLC will be able to operate more than two package stores through the purchase of a medallion.