J&B Party Store in Niles, just north of the Michigan-Indiana border, closed recently. The owner attributed the closing to Indiana’s lifting of its Sunday alcohol sales ban a year ago. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
J&B Party Store in Niles, just north of the Michigan-Indiana border, closed recently. The owner attributed the closing to Indiana’s lifting of its Sunday alcohol sales ban a year ago. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
For just over a year, Indiana has allowed Sunday alcohol sales at retail stores, and there already have been at least a couple of store closings on the Michigan side of the border.

The J&B Party store at 3114 S. 11th St. in Niles is abandoned with little but shelves, boxes and beer posters remaining inside. The sale of the license is pending and will be transferred to a storefront at 4031 Michigan 139 near St. Joseph.

Just over a year ago, a clerk at the store predicted that J&B would be severely hurt when Indiana finally began allowing the Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages. He said that nearly half of the store’s weekly sales came on Sunday. 

After years of political wrangling, the legislature took action early last year to repeal its Prohibition-era ban on the Sunday sale of alcohol, and Hoosiers marked the occasion by making alcoholic purchases throughout the state on March 4 last year — some to just mark the occasion on social media.

But the story was considerably different in communities bordering Indiana.

The Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages in Indiana was enough to force John and Sue Wetzel to close their family business — Union Market at 15940 U.S. 12 — after 36 years in business.

A few years earlier, Union Market was hurt by the opening of a nearby Dollar General store, but it was able to recover nicely once it acquired a full liquor license, Wetzel said. The store attracted a lot of customers from Elkhart and Goshen because of its ease of access just up County Road 17 in Elkhart.

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