For the first time since the 1980s, liquor stores in Great Bend will be allowed to stay open until 11 p.m., and, for the first time ever, they will be allowed to be open on Sundays.
These changes were the result of two ordinances approved by the Great Bend City Council Monday night. They extended hours and authorized Sunday sales of alcoholic liquor and cereal malt beverages.
The first grants liquor stores the ability to retail cereal malt beverages and alcoholic liquor in the original package within the city from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This modifies the existing ordinance and goes into effect immediately.
The second allows sales on any Sunday, except Easter, between noon and 8 p.m. But, in order to make this change, it has to be published twice in the Great Bend Tribune and there will be a 60-day waiting period during which a special election could be forced by petition.
The Sunday ordinance also allows the sale of 3.2 or lower cereal malt beverages by discount, grocery and convenience stores between noon and 8 p.m.
Other days when the beverages cannot be sold are Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
City Attorney Bob Suelter said the issue came up at the request of several of the local retail liquor store operators.
“I’d like to see this passed,” said Janis Link, whose son owns Hejny Liquor. “It levels the playing field for everyone. I think this would be a good move for the city.”
“What has changed over the passed 35 years?” said Terry Millard. His son recently opened a liquor store north of Great Bend outside the city limits and has been allowed to stay open to 11 and sell on Sundays all along because of the difference between city and county regulations.
He contended that everyone was just now trying to jump on the bandwagon.
But, “those sales are going elsewhere,” said Councilwoman Allene Owen. In addition to the new store, Ellinwood and Hoisington also offer late sales.
It was in 1983 that liquor store owners supported the change to close at 8 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. The change was made in response to a chain of liquor store robberies that left two people dead and with a gunshot wounded.
Reverting back to the later time has come up in the past, but the council has balked.
However, times are different now. The man responsible for those murders remains in prison and retail liquor landscape has changed.
“They just want to receive what they are losing,” Owen said. “Now, they just want to see it changed.”
Both ordinances passed by an 8-0 vote.