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Delay in Sunday sales worries Cobb retailers | Business

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Delay in Sunday sales worries Cobb retailers

COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- Retailers in unincorporated Cobb County are worried about losing profits if Sunday alcohol sales are delayed. The county's Sunday alcohol sales vote, which would have allowed sales of alcohol on June 1, 2012, is being challenged.

Liquor stores like Sherlocks near Marietta feel like they're being caught in a political scrum. While other cities and counties around them are ringing up sales on Sundays, they're still waiting to start, and they may have to wait longer than planned.

Sherlock's store manager David Reed said they're already being hurt on normally busy sales days. "Saturdays have become a little soft because there's no longer a sense of urgency to shop on a Saturday because the public thinks that everyone is open on Sunday already," he said.

But while businesses in surrounding Cherokee County and cities like Kennesaw, Acworth and Woodstock are already selling on Sunday; his business has to stay closed. And he may have to wait longer to open on Sundays.

That's because an Acworth man is contesting the vote in Cobb County. Roger Hines, a former state representative, contests the vote because 90,000 voters in six cities in Cobb weren't allowed to vote for or against the county referendum. Marietta, Smyrna, Acworth, Kennesaw, Powder Springs and Austell approved their own city referendums.

According to Hine's attorney, the basis for the lawsuit is the integrity of the election process. "Elections have to be done correctly in order for the public and the municipalities and county in this case to have confidence in the election process and the ultimate outcome," said Justin O'Dell.

The county passed the Sunday sales referendum on March, and county liquor stores were planning to open on Sundays by June 1. The referendum passed by about 26,000 votes. But the lawsuit says that vote did not include some 90,000 county taxpayers who live in the six cities.

If a new vote is required, it could be held on July 31, 2012 when the county has other referendums on the ballot. The county said it wouldn't cost taxpayers any money to add the Sunday sales referendum to the ballot.

But if it passes then, it would set back sales of alcohol on Sundays in unincorporated Cobb County another two months. That would extend the losses for businesses like Sherlocks.

"We don't know how much, but the sooner we get it over with and the sooner we are able to compete, the better off retailers in Cobb will be," Reed said.

The Cobb County Election Commission meets Friday morning to decide if they will challenge the lawsuit, or cede to its demands, which is to hold the vote again.

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