Elizabeth Buckley loves her hometown and believes Sunday liquor sales are the right economic development tool to help it grow.
“We have to bring people here,” said Buckley, one of the organizers of a petition being circulated in support of liquor sales.
The goal is to collect 2,000 signatures in support of an ordinance to present to the City Commission by October. If approved by the City Commission, the ordinance would allow for package sales and sales by the glass. There would be no public vote. A 2009 effort to allow by the glass Sunday sales failed, she said.
An online petition posted last week at Care2Petitions had 190 signatures as of Thursday. Two dozen hard copy petition packets are also being distributed, Buckley said. Those already have several hundred additional signatures.
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Buckley is a hometown girl. She graduated in 1996 from Bourbon County High School, went to the University of Kentucky and became a lawyer. Though she practices in Lexington, she lives on Main Street in Paris with her family.
She wants to see more families like hers move to town, and she wants the tourists visiting Bourbon County’s many horse farms to have a place for Sunday brunch with an adult beverage.
“We are the best-kept secret in the commonwealth,” said Buckley’s co-organizer and Main Street neighbor Dottie Spears, who has lived in Paris for 20 years.
Bourbon County is already wet. Would Sunday sales make that much of a difference?
Ralph Quillin, owner of Rooster Brew, a micro brewery that opened in 2014, thinks so. He operates Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He estimates he could match half his current sales by opening on Sunday.
His already expanding business has been successful, but in order to continue to grow he needs to bring in new patrons and be part of an overall transformation of Main Street, where 14 storefronts are empty, Quillin said.
Having the option of Sunday sales is also key to Paris restaurants, many of which close on Sunday.
“We are leaking business to other communities,” Buckley said. Those horse farm tours include a meal, but they are going to restaurants in Fayette, Scott and Woodford counties, she said.
Plus, she said, Sunday is the day people shop, and people buying a six-pack of beer or a few bottles of wine are also taking their business out of town and probably doing their other shopping, for things like groceries, out of town as well.
Census data shows a 15 percent decline in people aged 18 to 64 in Bourbon County between 2000 and 2014, Buckley said.
Paris is walkable, historic neighborhood with affordable housing which is attractive to families in that age group, Spears said. But, she said, being able to have brunch on Sunday or go out for a meal and a glass of wine is something people expect in their community.