Saturday I spent quite a bit of time on epicurious.com putting together an elaborate Thanksgiving menu and figuring out what to cook when. Yesterday was Shopping Day. I was feeling pretty ahead of the game as I trundled my buggy into the checkout line, having secured the last two cans of Libby’s pumpkin in the store. But there was a hitch: “I can’t sell you that alcohol ‘fore twelve o’clock,” the dispirited checkout clerk mumbled.
Huh? What alcohol? Oh, she meant the bottle of cheap sparkling wine I’d picked up for the Pomegranate-Ginger Champagne Cocktails. Sure enough, it was only 11:20. “No problem!” I said brightly. And it really wasn’t – after all, there were still three and a half days of alcohol-purchasing opportunity ahead for me. But still.
I cannot understand how this ridiculous blue law remains on the books. Winn-Dixie is licensed to sell wine and beer seven days a week. I passed several elaborate end-cap displays of both on my way through the store. The state cannot possibly have any compelling interest in prohibiting alcohol sales before noon on Sundays besides keeping the preachers happy.
When I was a girl growing up in New Orleans, only groceries and drugstores could open on Sunday, presumably because they sold “necessary” items. Then the retail lines got blurry, and both began to sell items normally associated with dry-goods stores. In what I remember as a deliberate effort to overturn the blue laws, clerks at the K&B drugstore were arrested for selling tube socks on a Sunday. Sure enough, soon the law was gone, Lakeside Mall was open on Sunday, and the thirty-year consumer frenzy began.
It seems to me that there ought to be a way to get clearly unconstitutional laws struck down without some poor clerk having to make the nightly news. But then, this is Alabama, the no-sex-toys state. I suppose I should be grateful I was allowed to buy my wine at all.