- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006

Revelers in the Washington area don’t need to stock up on peppermint schnapps and champagne before Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, even though both days fall on a Sunday this year.

Localities around the nation’s capital have eliminated Sunday “blue laws” or they make an exception on years such as this so beer, wine and liquor retailers can cash in on their busiest time.

The District is one example of where city officials approved a holiday loophole, allowing alcohol merchants to open on a Sunday if Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Mondays.

“This is a busy day and otherwise people might go to other areas if they need something,” said Rajvinder Bhuller, owner of Gandel’s Liquors at 211 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

Liquor sales in Maryland are largely regulated by county officials. Montgomery County no longer has blue laws; Prince George’s County, like the District, has a one-time exemption to its regular Sunday restrictions on liquor store sales.

“It’s going to be about four times busier” than normal, said Jin Chang, owner of Marlton Liquors at 9518 Crain Highway in Upper Marlboro. Mr. Chang said he plans to staff the store with seven or eight employees compared with the normal four.

It will be business as usual in Virginia, where the state sells liquor through Alcoholic Beverage Control stores. Jurisdictions that typically sell liquor on Sundays, such as Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, will be open on Christmas and New Year’s eves from the normal 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ABC stores in the rest of the state will be closed.

Ms. Bhuller said it’s not realistic to expect holiday revelers to prepare for celebrations early.

Another D.C. liquor store owner agreed it wouldn’t make sense to enforce blue laws the day before a holiday.

“The D.C. Council doesn’t even have to do anything; we’re the ones working, bringing in the revenue,” said the man, who owns Burkas Wine and Liquor Store at 3500 Wisconsin Ave. NW but declined to be named. “We’ve got to take whatever we can get.”

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