Fort Mill Times

Lancaster alters 'blue laws' to allow early Sunday sales

For many Lancaster County retailers, Sunday marked the first time in history that they were allowed to open before 1:30 p.m.

Last week, the Lancaster County Council passed an ordinance altering "blue laws" to allow the businesses to open early. In the Panhandle, few businesses were affected. Restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies, such as the new CVS near Sun City Carolina Lakes, are already allowed to open before 1:30 p.m.

However, the blue law repeal will affect new retailers coming to Indian Land, according to Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce President Dean Faile, including the Lowe's Home Improvement scheduled to open at the corner of Hwy. 521 and Hwy. 160, and the Wal-Mart slated for construction in the area.

"[Lowe's] encouraged us to move forward to try to get the repeal done," Faile said. "They certainly see that those in Indian Land will be the most effected because those shoppers can easily get to Rock Hill or Ballantyne to shop."

The Lowe's Home Improvement Store is slated to open sometime in the second quarter of this year. Eventually, Faile said, he expects Indian Land to reap the most benefit from the extra operating hours.

"I think the council is trying to be proactive and put in place something that will make it more attractive to retailers moving into Indian Land," Faile said. "They'll see that they aren't at a comp disadvantage to neighborhood communities."

Council members said they hope the option could give retailers a few extra hours to bring in much-needed business.

The repeal doesn't affect the ban on alcohol sales. In York County, Sunday alcohol sales are allowed for onsite consumption at restaurants and pubs because voters approved that option in a referendum last fall. The only local municipality that allows Sunday sales of alcohol is the City of Tega Cay.

Many local clergy were against the repeal, including Pastor Gayle Summey at Belair United Methodist Church. Pastor Bill Ferguson, of Gateway Church of God, also spoke out against the repeal at a recent council meeting, expressing concerns that residents would have to choose between going to work and going to church services.

The measure passed 6-1, with Councilman Jack Estridge casting the only dissenting vote.

County Administrator Steve Willis said that he expects it to take a few weeks before businesses have staff in place to open early on Sundays.

"This is just the first Sunday," Willis said. "It will probably take a little bit to ramp up."