State Rep. Colleen Garry has again filed legislation that would allow retail outlets to sell liquor on Thanksgiving. Garry, a Dracut Democrat who also represents Tyngsboro, offered a similar bill in 2015 that failed to gain her colleagues’ support.
Currently, liquor can’t be sold in Massachusetts on Thanksgiving and Christmas, or before noon on Memorial Day. Store operators can open on these two days by seeking the approval of the local permitting authority — in most cases that community’s police chief.
We didn’t support Garry’s bill the first time around, and our opinion hasn’t changed.
We understand border-community legislators’ concerns about losing business to sales-tax free New Hampshire. That was the main motivation behind what had been an annual weekend in August without that extra 6.25 percent levy, until lawmakers refused to allow it the last two years. It was one way to neutralize the Granite State’s tax advantage, even if it did come at the expense of state revenues.
Allowing liquor sales on Thanksgiving would actually give Massachusetts a leg up on the Granite State, which shutters its cash-cow state liquor stores on Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas and Easter. So currently, there’s no opportunity to purchase last-minute spirits to go along with that turkey and stuffing in either state.
That makes Thanksgiving and Christmas the only two days when New Hampshire isn’t siphoning liquor sales from Massachusetts, something it does otherwise on a daily basis.
We assume that Rep. Garry is aware of that, so we’re not sure what this bill would accomplish, except deprive the state’s liquor store employees of one of their few days off. That’s especially the case with Thanksgiving, the one true family holiday.
As before, Garry’s bill went before the Legislature’s Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure for a hearing earlier this week. Garry testified that it does not make sense that convenience stores, many of which open on Thanksgiving, cannot sell alcohol if they have it on their shelves.
That may not make sense to Garry and some of her constituents, but it seems perfectly reasonable to several liquor store employees who attended the hearing. While Garry indicated that stores could either opt to open or remain closed, the retail reality — as Sam Patel, a manager at Lowell Liquors, pointed out — would compel them to open, so as not to lose business to their competitors.
Patel added “the holiday is for family together.” It’s the same argument made by the Massachusetts Package Stores Association two years ago, when Garry filed her previous bill.
We agree. Then and now, Thanksgiving remains the one, true family holiday, where loved ones’ presence is the only gift necessary.
If liquor store owners feel strongly about depriving employees of this personal time, or to have the ability to sell beer and wine along with other convenience items, they can make their case with their local police chief.