HIGHLAND, Ind. – John Trelo remembers how big a drag buying booze in Indiana was on a Sunday before he moved to Florida 30 years ago.
It was the same deal each time: You’d have to get up and be out the door well before noon to make the haul down Ridge Road just over the Indiana-Illinois border to Santori’s in Lansing, Illinois. There, three or four cashiers would be ready to take the money of resigned Indiana people who just wanted a beer with their potato chips during the game.
Sunday at noon, that dark era ended for Hoosiers. After decades of back-and-forth among legislators and lobbyists, Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1051 repealed on Wednesday the state’s Prohibition-era ban on Sunday alcohol sales – save for cold beer – at liquor, grocery, drug and convenience stores.
Many liquor stores threw open their doors to customers for the first time since the 1920s, and customers like Trelo, in town to visit his parents in Highland, rejoiced. He carried his six-pack of Estrela Jalisco beer to the counter of Premier Liqours II in Highland with a sense of bemusement.
“Thirty years ago, it was the same,” Trelo, of Ft. Lauderdale, said. “[Sunday sales] are good for the state. It’ll keep the money here.”
While there wasn’t a line of people clamoring for Crown Royal hours before noon, Premier saw a steady stream of customers once clerk Ruben Vela unlocked the door. James VanProoyen of Highland picked up a nine-pack of tall boys as his first Sunday booze purchase at 12:08 p.m.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said. “I don’t think they should’ve banned alcohol sales in the first place.”
Runs for the border were common for shoppers pre-Sunday sales, customers said. VanProoyen said he hit Lansing almost every Sunday prior.
“My schedule didn’t always mean I was home to stock up on Saturday,” he said.
Brian Gambino, also of Highland, was excited his Sundays wouldn’t be consumed with getting beer anymore.
“This here is 5 minutes from my house instead of driving all the way down Ridge. That would take an hour of my day versus 12, 15 minutes now,” Gambino said.
Having to work a Sunday shift won’t be a big deal, either, said Vela, who’s been at the store 14 years. In fact, the law’s passing was sort of serendipitous for Premier’s owner, Eric Osan.
“Eric was interviewing for new people, and then the law passed this week,” Vela said. “Every year, you think it’s going to happen, and it doesn’t. Now here we are.”
Megan Reid of Highland shot a photo of husband Anthony going into Premier for social media. The two didn’t really need anything, but just wanted to commemorate the occasion with some double IPAs.
“We’d head out to wherever almost every other weekend when we had people over. This is shorter to go to stock up, or when someone comes over and we’re running short,” Anthony Reid said.
(The Post-Tribune is a publication of the Chicago Tribune.)
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