Nonprofit club wants to sell Sunday spirits

Blackville Town Council may have preempted Brown's Lounge from selling alcohol from midnight Saturdays until Monday but Blackville's own town codes indicate that state law preempts town law.

As a result of filing a Freedom of Information request with the town of Blackville, The People-Sentinel obtained copies of the town's codes pertaining to alcohol sales as well as other documents.

The business license for Brown's Lounge was also obtained.

The license was purchased June 14, 2010 for $300 and expires June 30, 2011. The license states that Brown's Lounge is licensed to operate as a "private social club/drinking place" at 2054 Dexter St.

Article II, which is the alcoholic beverages section of the town code, contains an editor's note.

The note states: "It should be noted that, although South Carolina law has pre-empted municipalities in this field, this article has been included to assist the members of the police department of the town of Blackville when enforcing the provisions thereof."

Section 14.306 of town code states that it is is unlawful for anyone to sell wine or beer after midnight Saturday night, "except for those establishments licensed by the state to sell alcoholic beverages in containers of two (2) ounces or less during lawful hours."

On the state level, a business licensed by the state as a nonprofit organization (private club) can sell alcohol and their members and guests may consume alcohol on the premises between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Brown's Lounge is licensed by the South Carolina Secretary of State's office as a nonprofit organization.

Because of this status, Bridget Brown believes she should be able to sell alcohol on Sunday.

To be licensed as a nonprofit, Brown's Lounge had to meet certain requirements by the state.

One of those requirements is to have in place a board of directors. Brown is the president of the board and Mervin Watford is the vice president.
The members live in various places but all have ties to Blackville, Brown said.

"Everybody on the board has a career, (other than Brown's Lounge)" Brown said.

"With the proceeds from Brown's Lounge we are looking to give back to the community, particularly children and seniors," Brown said.

"We need to have a place for kids to enjoy and play games," Brown said.

Brown said they would also contribute to other worthy causes in the area.

Brown has seen firsthand what idle time can do for children. She has been in the education field for more than 17 years. She also ran recreational programs, including intramural basketball for 10 years, she said.

People wanting to become club members to Brown's Lounge must submit and application and memberships are limited, Brown said.

Once submitted, the board will decide whether to accept the application, Watford said.

Brown said they are only looking for mature adults who simply want to "sit back and relax."

The board also meets monthly via teleconference and face-to-face quarterly to conduct other business, Watford said.

Those meetings are also a requirement of the state.

Watford and Brown are both hoping the town will allow the establishment to sell alcohol on Sunday.

Otherwise, Watford said the amount of revenue the organization will be able to give back to the community will decrease.

Brown said the building has housed a club since the early 1990s which did operated on Sunday.

The building is actually two separate rooms.

One room is what Brown said would be a dance floor during Brown's Lounge's operating hours, the other would be the bar area.

When the establishment is not operating, Brown said the "dance area" could be rented for things like children's parties or club meetings.

Watford said when that side is rented, especially for children's activities, Brown's Lounge will not be in operation.

"We do not sell alcohol in front of children," Watford said.

Brown was told by Mayor Jackie Holman she would have to be put on council's agenda for any action to be taken by council on her request to operate after midnight on Saturday.

Brown said she has already requested to be on the July council agenda.