Some small businesses in Lubbock County saw a development on Friday as an ominous sign for their future.
Friday morning, Let Lubbock Vote announced that, in just nine days, it collected more than 25,000 signatures on a petition to force an election on alcohol sales. Voters were asked to sign two petitions. One is for the legal sale of alcohol for off premise consumption. The other petition is for the sale of mixed beverages in restaurants and by food and beverage certificate holders.
John Hatch, Texas Petition Strategies, said "basically, more people signed the petitions than voted in you last city election, which was one of your highest turnouts."
Let Lubbock Vote needs 18,747 valid signatures to put the alcohol sales issue on the May ballot. However, despite the seemingly strong support, not all are in favor.
For nearly eight years, Hoots Thomas has turned on the open sign at his liquor store. However, if Lubbock goes wet, the sign could go dark for good. "It would probably put me out of business," Thomas said.
Thomas's store is just one of a few independent liquor shops near the strip. Thomas says right now he is able to keep his doors open. But if big business starts to sell alcohol in town, he may not be the only one forced to close. "200 to 250 people's jobs out here in this market already here. And a lot of businesses will lose their business over this deal," Thomas said.
Chuck's Four Way liquor store is less than a block away from Hoot's. Manager Andy Kolb says he too, may have to look for a new source of revenue if Lubbock says yes to alcohol. "You can't compete against United and Wal-Mart. Small guys can't do it," Kolb said.
Kolb says he has starting to look at other options. But in the end, he says it really depends on what voters pass. "If it's just beer and wine permits we'll be ok. But if they do liquor - well, it would make a good hay barn out here," Kolb said.
All of Let Lubbock Vote's signatures come with a price tag of more than $100,000. Texas Petition Strategies is keeping the signatures until the bill is paid. Let Lubbock Vote has until December 1 to turn in the signatures.
PAC Collects Enough Signatures to Put Alcohol on May Ballot
Let Lubbock Vote has stopped its efforts to get signatures on an alcohol sales petition, even though they still have 40 days left to collect names. NewsChannel 11's Brittany Pieper has details.