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Shoppers head to NM border to beat Texas’ blue laws

Employees at the Side Door Liquor Store in Sunland Park prepare for a crowd of Texans on New Year’s Eve. The store is on the state line, and Texas bans booze sales on Sundays and certain holidays. (Angela Kocherga/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

SUNLAND PARK – Holiday sales have never been better for the tiny Side Door Liquor Store located on the state line.

The store is expecting a big crowd on New Year’s Eve, a repeat of Christmas Eve when Texans shopped for booze in New Mexico because Texas bans liquor sales on Sundays and certain holidays, including New Year’s Day and Christmas.

“Everybody was stunned that Texas was closed. Well, they forgot it was Sunday,” said Sindi Zeller, manager of the Side Door Liquor Store in Sunland Park.

This year, both New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday. So-called blue laws in Texas also force liquor stores there to close on New Year’s Day and Christmas, even when they don’t fall on a Sunday.

So Texans had to stock up on spirits for their New Year’s celebrations no later than Saturday or cross the state line.

The Side Door Liquor Store is in New Mexico, but the parking lot is in Texas. It belongs to the aptly named The State Line restaurant next door. The tiny package store benefits from procrastinators or those who find they need an extra bottle for guests.

Texans lined up on Christmas Eve to buy liquor at the package store at Billy Crews restaurant in Santa Teresa. El Pasoans crossed the state line to shop for spirits, because blue laws in Texas ban alcohol sales on Sundays and certain holidays. (Courtesy of Bob Moore)

“We didn’t know so and so was coming over, so there goes all the Crown. You better get another bottle of Crown, so there’s always those last-minute things,” said Kevin McGuire, assistant general manager at The State Line restaurant.

The barbecue restaurant hopes to benefit from an overflow crowd of customers who may get hungry if the liquor store line is as long as it was on Christmas Eve.

“Once you entered the store, we had about 30-35-minute wait because it went all the way around and came up to the register,” Zeller said. “From the door all the way out to the parking lot, that was probably another 30 minutes easily.”

The store tripled sales over Christmas Eve last year, she said.

Billy Crews, another restaurant on the state line, also had a long line of Texans at its package store on Christmas Eve and expects another crowd New Year’s Eve.

Some Texans shopped for spirits early.

“We have other plans for the weekend. We won’t be in line here,” said El Paso resident Michelle Holguin as she left the Side Door Liquor Store with her mother. “We’re getting a bottle of Crown Royal for my father and brother.”

Other Texans were not aware of the two-day holiday ban on liquor sales in Texas.

“No, I did not know,” said Carlos Aldama as he left the store with a bottle of his favorite tequila.

His family plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home.

“If it’s Sunday, I’m definitely going to come back,” he said.


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