Mel Lewis thinks it may be time to go into business in Lawrence. Such is the financial attractiveness of Sunday liquor sales.
Lewis is owner of Lewis Retail Liquors in Topeka. And while Lawrence appears ready to begin allowing Sunday liquor sales starting Sept. 28, his city faces an extended debate on the topic.
And if voters reject Sunday sales in Topeka, Lewis figures his customers will start coming to Lawrence anyway.
"I've been in the business 10 years and I know there are a lot of people who drive to Kansas City on Sundays," he said. "I have no doubt that they would drive over and help my friends in the business in Lawrence."
A coalition of Topeka liquor store owners has started a petition to prevent Sunday sales from being allowed in the capital. Those who are opposed to Sunday sales are concerned about the cost of staying open another day, and want to have a day off. If they are successful, Topeka's plan to allow sales starting Oct. 26 would be delayed until the measure could be put to a citywide vote.
"If the petition drive (to stop Sunday sales) succeeds, I will look at moving ... to Lawrence," Lewis said.
In Lawrence, it appears nothing more stands in the way of Sunday sales than one more Sunday without them.
City Clerk Frank Reeb said Monday he had heard of no petition effort to force a citywide vote on Sunday sales here. Such a petition would require the signatures of 10 percent of the city's registered voters -- and be due in city offices at 5 p.m. Sept. 24.
After that, Reeb said, the city's ordinance will be official Sept. 25 and officials will notify liquor store owners they're free to open between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays.
"We will do a notice to the liquor store owners," Reeb said. "We'll just send a general note out."
Lawrence liquor stores are preparing.
"People have been asking about it for months," said Tom Dangermond, owner of Dangermond Retail Liquor at 923 N. Second St. "I don't think there is any great excitement, it's just less hassle for them."
But like their Topeka counterparts, Lawrence liquor store managers aren't necessarily looking forward to the extra day of business.
"So far nobody has signed up to work" on Sundays, said Melissa Hopson, office manager at Cork and Barrel Wine and Spirits, 23rd and Iowa streets.
City officials said there was little they would do to prepare.
"It'll be another business that's open," said Assistant City Manager Dave Corliss. "The police department will need to be aware of it, the fire department will be aware of it ... (but) we're not planning on doing anything different because of the ordinance becoming effective."
The Sunday sales wave started with liquor store owners in Kansas City, Kan., who complained they were losing business to Missouri stores that could remain open.
A Wyandotte County district court judge sided with them in March, saying the state's liquor laws aren't uniform. The ruling sustained the cities' use of their home-rule authority to "opt out" of the state's law.