Sunday liquor store
Bottles line the behind-the-counter shelves at Freeman's Liquor Mart in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on Election Day, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Tres Savage)

Liquor stores in seven Oklahoma counties will be able to conduct business on Sundays according to Tuesday’s unofficial election results.

Voters passed their Sunday liquor store sales proposals by 72.8 percent in Cleveland County, whose largest communities are Norman and Moore. The proposal in Creek County received 60.8 percent, and the proposal in Washington County received 59.1 percent. Muskogee County saw the least support among the seven counties with 56 percent voter approval.

With about half of results in Tulsa County and Oklahoma County tabulated by the publication of this post, the Sunday liquor store sales proposal had about 70 percent support in both counties.

In Kingfisher County, voters approved two measures related to alcohol by about 69 percent each: Sunday liquor store sales and liquor by the drink, an option first made available to counties in 1984. Bars in counties without liquor by the drink could operate as bottle clubs, where patrons bring in their own bottles and pay the bar a setup charge.

All unofficial state election results can be found on the Oklahoma State Election Board website.

Liquor store owner: ‘We’ve had positive feedback’

One hour before polls closed Tuesday evening, Chris Hancock was working in the backroom of Freeman’s Liquor Mart, the northwest OKC liquor store he has owned since 1998.

“We would like the option to be open Sundays, which we don’t have at this time,” Hancock said. “We have spoken with a number of our customers, and we’ve had positive feedback on them wanting to have us be able to be open. And it would also be a positive around certain holidays.”

Hancock said being prohibited from operating on Sundays made Monday and Tuesday holidays particularly difficult. State statute prohibits retail liquor stores from operating on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We are kind of shut out of a lot of business,” he said. “If Christmas Eve is on a Monday or whatever, then we lose a lot of business, and a lot of people who want to shop with us can’t shop with us.”

Oklahoma County’s proposal appears to indicate liquor stores will be able to open this upcoming Sunday, March 8.

“We haven’t made any plans about that,” Hancock said. “We will have to double check on that of course and talk to our friends over at the [Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission] to make sure we are clear.”

Asked if he and his staff would be popping a cork and toasting if Oklahoma County’s proposal passed, he smiled and said, “Not here.”

Background on Sunday liquor store sales

These new measures are part of a statewide effort in recent years to modernize Oklahoma’s historically convoluted liquor laws.

Passed in 2016, State Question 792 authorized grocery stores to sell beer of up to 8.99 percent alcohol by volume as well as wine up to 14.99 percent alcohol by volume and under refrigeration.

“With the passage by voters of SQ 792 in 2018, grocery and convenience stores are now able to sell wine and beer on Sundays, so it seems reasonable to allow retail liquor stores to have the same opportunity should they choose to,” Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-OKC) said prior to Election Day. Bice spearheaded several of Oklahoma’s alcohol modernization laws.