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Blame it on road construction

By Staff | Feb 2, 2014

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the city-run Blue Earth Wine and Spirits store.

The good news is, a recently released study by the state auditor of municipal liquor stores shows the Blue Earth facility to be very strong financially. In fact, it ranks 58th in total sales revenue out of all 207 municipal liquor stores in the state.

The bad news?

The state auditor’s report covers the year 2012.

When the report for 2013 comes out, the Blue Earth municipal liquor store may drop down the list a ways.

“Sales were down a little bit this past year,” Blue Earth Wine and Spirits manager Don Adams says. “We hit a little speed bump last summer.”

That speed bump was more of a detour off the road. Adams attributes the lower sales to the reconstruction of Highway 169 last summer.

“Sales were up five of the first six months of the year,” Adams says. “Then came July and they took a big dive. They rebounded, but then went down again. That continued through to the end of the year.”

The manager says he thinks they lost some customers off the freeway and some who come up from Iowa.

“It was just a bit too inconvenient for them to get here,” he says.

By the end of the year, the store was down almost $20,000 in sales from the year before.

But, before you think Blue Earth Wine and Spirits is in financial trouble, it is important to point out they still had a good year and turned a profit in 2013.

In fact, more than $90,000 in profit. But, that is a lot less than the $120,000 the store made in 2012.

“We still had a very good year last year,” Adams says. “But, we had been increasing both sales and profit each year over the previous year, until last year,”

Here are the numbers.

In 2010 the store saw a profit of $71,463 on total sales of $1.382 million.

In 2011 the profit was $82,427 on sales of $1.414 million.

In 2012 the profit soared to $120,232 as revenues jumped to $1.498 million.

The numbers for 2013 are unaudited, but preliminary figures show a profit of $92,903 on total sales of $1.479 million.

Where does all the profit go? It is kept in a separate fund.

In 2005 the city sold a bond for $615,000 to pay for the new building. The bond was to run through 2021.

However, the city was able to pay off the bond in full in 2012 leaving the municipal liquor store debt free.

And, also in 2012, $88,789 was transferred out to pay for the picnic shelter in Putnam Park. In 2013 $44,435 was transferred out of the fund to pay for playground equipment at Putnam Park and at the 14th Street Ballfield.

The liquor store fund had a balance of $299,965 at the end of 2012 after the payment paying off the building bond. The fund had a cash balance on Dec. 31, 2013, of $395,928.

Despite having hit a speed bump this past year, the Blue Earth Wine and Spirits store is still in great financial shape.