Posted at: 06/30/2012 12:07 AM
By: Dan Levy
TROY - State agencies don't ordinarily hold public hearings on a Friday night, that's why Friday was so extraordinary.
At the request of the Rensselaer County Legislature, State Liquor Authority officials came to Troy, intent on lifting the 'spirits' of certain business owners -- liquor store owners.
Bob DeMeo has been in business for 30 years, selling wine and liquor in Troy. He's open six days a week, closes every Sunday, and then opens for two hours -- from 10:00 A.M. til 12:00 noon -- on most major holidays.
"We do have a state tax stamp and my belief is that we should be able to operate the hours that we want to operate and sell what ever we want to sell," DeMeo asserts. "If somebody wants to be in their store longer hours, extended hours on holidays, that should be their right."
Up until now, liquor stores in Rensselaer County could only open for two hours on holidays, even though neighboring counties allow longer operating hours.
"It just seemed inequitable," said Mike Heller, owner of Heller's Wine and Spirit in Averill Park, who thinks State Labor Department regulations can be burdensome as well. "We had to pay our people four hours for a two hour job."
Hearing the complaints, the State Liquor Authority held a public hearing Friday night in Troy to decide if Rensselaer County liquor stores could stay open longer on holidays. No one showed up, but the SLA took that to mean no one objected, and so the SLA granted the request.
"This will enable them in a tough economy to increase sales and to compete with adjoining counties where hours are more flexible," said Dennis Rosen, Chair of the State Liquor Authority. "We wanted to rule on this before the July 4th holiday so they could get going on this as soon as they could."
At his Averill Park store, Mike Heller thought the extra hours, five holidays a year, would make a difference.
"I think the holidays are big purchasing days," he said. "I think if we can have our customers stay with us and not have to go somewhere else it's more convenient for them and it's better for us and the town and the county."
Effective immediately, Rensselaer County liquor stores can be open from 9:00 A.M. til 9:00 P.M. on five holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. They are still prohibited from opening on Christmas Day.