County “C” stores deserve right to sell beer/wine

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

For decades the convenience stores and general stores sprinkled throughout Scott County have been staples of their respective communities. Many of these stores have been in business more than 25 years and have been able to keep the doors open for business, and provide customers the chance to do their shopping right around the corner from their homes. These stores have struggled to stay in business but have persevered even though they are at a big disadvantage because of Scott County’s status as a “Dry County.” The time has come, and frankly is long overdue, to even the playing field and give the country stores the same rights and opportunities as those stores located within city limits enjoy.

There are numerous reasons this is the right thing to do, but there is one that is the most apparent. It’s only fair to allow the stores the same opportunities as their counterparts within the city. Many may argue that the ability to sell alcoholic products would not make any significant difference, but I would tell you that the people that claim that are basing that on beliefs and thoughts rather than facts and numbers.

Many people in the communities surrounding these county stores do their best to support the business by shopping there as often as possible. However, if their shopping list includes either beer and/or wine they have no choice but to pass right by the community general store and head  to town. The additional revenue that could be realized by having the right to sell alcohol would be significant. This additional revenue would go a long way to ensure the survival of these stores that continue to be important to the outlying communities.

These stores have been at a disadvantage for decades now. For the store owners it’s frustrating to know that many possible patrons pass right by their store every day on their way to Forest, Morton, Carthage, Newton or Raleigh to purchase beer or wine. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that customers who purchase beer also purchase gas, snacks and drinks during their visits to city stores. That is decades of lost revenue that these stores can never get back, but this longtime disadvantage can be righted by the voters of Scott County. 

Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 for most of the country. However, for 31 Mississippi counties prohibition is still ongoing in 2019. Many decades ago not having the ability to purchase alcohol in the county was most certainly a deterrent. But over the last 50 years that deterrent is no longer relevant because every household has an automobile and can easily travel to where alcohol is sold. I will go as far as saying not allowing alcohol sales in our county communities makes our local roads far more dangerous. People who want alcohol are going to get it. Not being able to purchase alcohol at the store closest to them only creates more drivers who are either drinking or impaired traveling our roads.

All of those issues aside, 50 other Mississippi counties have come to the realization that remaining a dry county serves no realistic purpose. I believe the voters of Scott County should come to the same realization and vote to give the community and country stores the right to sell beer and wine. The opportunity for voters to be heard on this issue may be coming sooner than people know.

Currently there is a petition seeking signatures to allow beer and light wine to be sold in the county. If you have visited any of the country general stores over the last month you may have seen this petition on the counter. I know the interest in this measure being included on the August 6 ballot is high, but the question is will Scott County finally give all stores in this county the same rights.

Even after the 21st Amendment was ratified in 1933 ending prohibition, the State of Mississippi remained a dry state for another 36 years. It was the last remaining dry state until 1966. After 54 years fighting inevitability, I believe it’s time that Scott County voters’ level the playing field for all stores in our county. It’s no longer a deterrent to drinking and frankly, it’s not fair.