Group begins process for Sunday alcohol sales in Fayetteville

A refrigerated beer case is shown in this 2016 photo taken during a media tour of Whole Foods Market before the store’s grand opening in Fayetteville (Flyer photo/Todd Gill, File)

FAYETTEVILLE — Sunday alcohol sales could be placed on the November ballot in the city this year, and a group backed by Walmart is behind the effort.

The group, called Keep Our Dollars in Fayetteville, submitted a statement of organization for a ballot question committee with the Arkansas Ethics Commission earlier this month, according to a filing stamp marked March 2.

That statement was signed by the group’s treasurer, Michael Lindsey, who is Walmart’s director of public affairs and government relations.

State Rep. Denise Garner of Fayetteville is serving as the group’s chair, while Garner’s husband Hershey is listed as vice chair, and Keaton Smith is listed as secretary.

Lindsey, who worked to get Sunday alcohol sales on the ballots in Bentonville and Rogers, said in a March 4 email to the City Clerk’s office that Walmart is supporting the effort in Fayetteville and that a public announcement would come later this month. Attached to the email was a copy of the signature petition the group plans to use in their campaign.

In Arkansas, cities can individually place Sunday alcohol sales questions on the ballot if enough signatures are collected in the months leading up to an election.

Keep our Dollars in Fayetteville would need to submit just under 4,200 signatures to get the process started. That number represents 15% of the total number of votes cast by Fayetteville residents in the previous governor’s election, as required by state law.

In a followup email on March 11, Lindsey said he’d coordinated with county officials who said they would help the City Clerk’s office in validating signatures once they’re turned in.

After that, the City Council would need to call for an election sometime in late July in order push the authorization to the county in time for the election commission to process the ballot question for the Nov. 5 election.

These cities allow off-premises alcohol sales on Sundays in Northwest Arkansas:

Benton County
Avoca
Bentonville
Garfield
Gentry
Pea Ridge
Rogers

Washington County
Greenland
Springdale
Tontitown

State law stipulates that alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption can only occur between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight on Sundays, which is what the language of the Fayetteville petition states would be asked of voters.

Earlier this month, 70% of voters in Greenland approved Sunday alcohol sales during the primary election.

In 2022, a similar measure passed in Bentonville with 74% approval, and voters in Rogers approved their Sunday sales ballot with 71% of the votes. The City of Avoca approved Sunday sales by 71% in 2017. Four years later in 2021, Garfield and Pea Ridge voters each approved Sunday sales with 66% approval.

Springdale and Tontitown have had Sunday sales since 2012.