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Tylertown’s first liquor store is set to open soon, probably by this week, in Tylertown Plaza. For Walthall County it’s something of an historic note as it will represent the first-time wine and liquor has been sold legally in both the town and county.
Unlike the sale of beer, which went on sale in town in January 2021 and just prior to Christmas in the county in December 2020, liquor sales have always been prohibited by law. Beer, on the other hand, was briefly legal in the town and county for a six-month period in 1934, almost 90 years ago, when a state law legalized beer sales in Mississippi and allowed counties to vote it out, if the desired. Walthall Countians desired, and after a six-month period of being able to purchase brands like Dixie and Union for a nickel a glass, the county voted dry for beer by a wide margin.
Barrelhead Wine $ Spirits is the venture of Stephen Pigott and his partner— of McComb.
Pigott says they obtained the proper license and credentials from the state some months ago. He says the holdup in opening has been due to reasons beyond everyone’s control. The coronavirus didn’t help. They made application right after the county–one of a small handful throughout the state dry for both beer and liquor–sent to the polls in November to voter overwhelmingly to legalize the sake of both
Since then, they’ve been fulfilling state requirements and working on the new store’s location, near Piggly Wiggly in Tylertown Plaza on the bypass, in the newly remodeled former NAPA location, next door to Fitness Max.
Pigott ordered product from the State Liquor Warehouse outside Jackson just recently and expects the shipment to arrive soon.
In Mississippi, the state acts as the only liquor wholesaler in the state, but even though that’s the case, Pigott says he is periodically visited by representatives of distillers pushing their product.
“We order through the state’s website,” Pigott said. “Right now, the state features almost 3760 different products. You’re faced not only with choosing brands, but varieties, bourbon and scotch, for example; and then the container sizes–fifths, pints, most today are packaged in milliliter sizes. Even though there appears to be thousands of distilled products and wines to choose from, that doesn’t meet the product is in stock. Frequently when placing orders, Pigott says the warehouse may not have the product at that time.
The new store has been remodeled with offices, a big retail area with shelving for display and a storage area in back.
Pigott said opening the county’s first liquor store has been a learning experience. While many of the liquor laws have been updated since the state made local option liquor sales legal and Gov. Paul B. Johnson signed the bill, which went into effect July 1, 1966, there are provisions that apply to liquor retailer that regular retail merchants aren’t saddled with.
Dating back to the Mississippi territory in 1799, history says laws were passed regulating “intoxicants” during the first territorial legislative body convening in the town of Natchez. The law provided for issuing permits to sell intoxicants, specified quantities to be sold and laid out fines to be levied against violators. It wasn’t until 1886 that the state legislator passed a local option law allowing residents to vote in local election to determine if their locality would allow or ban sale of alcohol.
Eventually, state lawmakers passed a statewide prohibition law that became effective on Jan. 1, 1909. When the 18th Amendment was passed Jan. 29, 1918, banning manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol across the US., Mississippi became the first state to ratify it.
In the years that followed the prohibition law became more and more unpopular. The move to end it began Dec. 6, 1932 with a resolution that was the basis for the 21st Amendment. On Dec. 5, 1933, Utah was the 36th state to ratify the 21st, and eventually other states ratified the amendment and passed their own liquor laws until the middle of the 20th Century.
Oklahoma and Mississippi were the last two holdouts in the nation. Oklahoma repealed prohibition on April 7, 1959. It took seven more years for Mississippi to legalize liquor, under local option, although Mississippi legalized beer in 1934, a year after national prohibition had ended.