The Puritans of the original Massachusetts Bay Colony were a strict God-fearing people. In the 17th century they enacted a set of laws, often referred to as “Blue Laws,” which restricted various activities, both commercial and recreational, on Sundays. Among these laws was the probation of the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
It’s only now in the 21st century, some four hundred years later, that Massachusetts has finally seen fit to update it’s antiquated blue laws as they relate to alcohol sales. The big shift happened in 2003 when the total ban on Sunday alcohol sales was lifted. Now, ten years later, the state is further liberalizing its liquor laws and allowing liquor stores to open at 10am on Sunday, two hours earlier than previously.
The Interstate Battle for Business
The competition for business between the small New England states is a driving force behind these recent changes in Massachusetts liquor laws. This update brings Massachusetts into step with its two neighbors to the south, Connecticut and Rhode Island, both of which have allowed liquor stores to open on Sundays at 10am for over a decade. However, the state remains behind its two neighbors to the north, New Hampshire and Vermont, both of which allow liquor stores to open at 6am on Sundays. In contrast, Massachusetts is now ahead of its neighbor to the west, New York, in which liquor stores are allowed to open at noon on Sundays under state law.
In their coverage of the matter, Boston Magazine quoted Bill Rennie, vice president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, as saying:
“…because Massachusetts is a small state with close borders, ‘anything we can do to level the playing field’ with the competition is a win. ‘During Patriots games and tailgating and things like that, the flexibility to be able to be open and compete right over the border is helpful…’”
Despite the aim it takes at the interstate competition, the updated law is optional. Massachusetts liquor stores are not required to open at 10am on Sundays, but rather they are simply no longer prohibited from doing so. Bill Rennie, again:
“We have long thought the decision on store hours on a Sunday, if we are going to have them open, should be left up to the discretion of the owner and the market. If customers are going to shop earlier in the morning, so be it.”
Colonial Spirits Delivers is Ahead of the Times
It remains to be seen just how much of an impact this new liquor law will have on our business at Colonial Spirits Delivers. We will soon be open for business on Sundays at 10am, and, as such, perhaps our Sunday deliveries will increase. However, our interest in the matter has comparatively little to do with the limited practical consequences of the new law. Rather we are more interested in the overall arc and development of the alcohol industry in Massachusetts and beyond.
We strive everyday at CSD to be industry leaders and innovators, and are always looking for new ways to meet our customers’ wants and needs in the 21st century. We have had our online liquor store in Massachusetts and have been providing liquor store delivery to Boston and beyond for three years now. Last year, we even struck up a partnership with FedEx, which allows us to ship wine throughout Massachusetts as well.
At Colonial Spirits Delivers, we like to consider ourselves “ahead of the times”… and it’s nice to see our great home state of Massachusetts working to catch up!
(Source: Massachusetts Liquor Stores Can Soon Sell Alcohol Before Noon on Sundays, BostonMagazine.com, July 25, 2014)