SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A new poll shows more Arkansans support going wet.
percent of those surv
eyed said they would vote "yes" for expanded alcohol sales, while 39 percent said they would vote "no." The remaining people surveyed said they were either undecided or did not want to give an answer.
The recent poll numbers concern some Region 8 liquor store owners.
"The wet/dry issue is a big concern," said Thomas Bagwell. "It concerns a lot of new liquor store owners, especially liquor stores on the county lines."
Bagwell is the co-owner of T & C Sportsman's Liquor, which sits on the Sharp/Lawrence County line. The store opened
"It's doing very well," Bagwell said. "It's been picking up every month. It seems like more and more people are finding out we're here so we're getting more clientele coming in."
Bagwell said he expects even more business for the fall and winter months thanks to hunting season.
"Deer season is starting up and we can tell it's really starting to pick up here this fall," he said.
However, the anticipation of high sales could turn out to be a bust if Arkansas residents vote Nov. 4 to make the entire state wet.
"It will definitely slow down if the state went wet but I also believe that it's not just a wet/dry issue they're going to be voting for," Bagwell said. "It's the changes that come along with it. And of course we don't know what all the changes are going to be yet."
If the amendment passes, the state's 75 counties can no longer vote to be dry again.
"A lot of investments have gone into these new stores, land and buildings so it's an issue that everyone's concerned about for sure," Bagwell said.
Liquor stores throughout the state are so concerned that they have so far poured $1.2 million into Citizens for Local Rights, the committee formed to fight the Let Arkansas Decide amendment.
The Poinsett Package Store on the Craighead County line contributed $100,000 and Greene County liquor dealers, another neighbor to Craighead, contributed $60,000. See how much other Region 8 liquor stores contributed
Bagwell said his store has not contributed since it recently opened.
"We're in a good location where we are but it's still a big concern of ours," he said.
Bagwell said he has considered a "Plan B" in case residents vote "yes" in November. But until voters make a decision, he said it will be business as usual at T & C Sportsman's Liquor.
"We're just gonna keep doing like we're doing," Bagwell said. "We'll be here."
Citizens for Local Rights commissioned a telephone poll Sept. 3 and found most Arkansans oppose the amendment.
The poll revealed 54 percent of those surveyed said they would likely vote against the amendment, while 40 percent said they would likely support it. Seventy-nine percent said residents of every county should have the right to decide if their county is wet or dry.
"The poll findings echo the opinions we have been hearing daily from people across the state, that this is an overreaching and dangerously written amendment," Chairman Brian Richardson stated in a press release. "Arkansans are independent by nature and believe that important decisions, like alcohol sales, should remain in the hands of the local electorate."