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Sunday liquor sales a big question

By Staff | May 28, 2017

Liquor stores across Minnesota now have the opportunity to be open on Sundays both the ones which are privately owned and the city-owned municipal liquor stores.

For all 159 years that Minnesota has been a state, sales of liquor on Sundays have been prohibited. That is just for off-sale, where patrons buy it at a store; on sale, in restaurants, has been allowed on Sundays for many years.

The legislature has tried to pass a bill for many years which would allow Sunday sales. But it never passed, mainly because it was usually attached to another bill.

Back in March both the House and the Senate passed a Sunday liquor sales bill and Governor Mark Dayton signed it into law.

The bill becomes law on July 1. The very next day, July 2, is a Sunday, so that is the first time liquor stores can be open.

Now, a lot of folks think the passage of the law means every liquor store will automatically be open on Sundays. But, the truth is each store owner can decide if they want to be open on Sundays or not.

And, they can decide the hours to be open. The House bill stated the maximum hours as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But, the Senate bill made it 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. And in committee, the Senate’s choice of hours to be open prevailed.

Many people say the change was long overdue. Others say it seems to make sense, especially in larger cities across the state. It may also make sense for stores in towns near the South Dakota and Wisconsin borders where Sunday liquor sales have been allowed for years.

The question being debated in small towns across Minnesota is now, of course, should their liquor store be open or not. Not only for moral issues, but also does it really make any financial sense to do so.

Craig Wells, manager of the Blue Earth municipal liquor store, explained to the City Council that he feels there are advantages and disadvantages to being open.

Blue Earth is certainly not the only town grappling with this question.

Basically, the question is, ‘Will it be worth it?’ Will the extra expense of paying two employees for the seven hours on Sunday, plus the other expenses of heat, light, etc., be covered by any additional sales revenue?

No one knows that answer for sure.

Some say that people who might make a purchase on a Sunday may have made that same buy on Saturday or even Monday, in the past. That would translate to no new money coming in.

Others say the convenience of having the store open on Sundays is worth the extra expense.

The Blue Earth City Council seems to be leaning towards being open on Sundays starting in July, at least for a trial basis. But they have not yet made a definite decision.

I really have no idea if being open on Sundays is actually necessary in a small town. It sure seems as though people should be able to find a time to buy their beer, wine and liquor sometime during the other six days of the week.

And in the case of Blue Earth Wine & Spirits, they are already open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Seems like a lot of opportunity to get to the store when you want to.

I guess there are some Sundays when it might make sense to be open. This first one, July 2, makes some sense since it is so close to July 4, a holiday.

And Sundays around other holidays might see some traffic as well.

Then there is the NFL football season, which does run from August through January. With games on Sunday, there could be a need for some extra beer purchases.

Then there is the Super Bowl at the beginning of February. I can see that being a big day at the liquor store. At least in theory.

Manager Wells also discussed another issue, which is just finding people willing to work on Sundays. Many of his part-time workers have other jobs, and they want to have Sundays off.

Sometimes it is the only day of rest or time for getting together with family and having a good time.

But then, getting together with family may mean enjoying a few adult beverages and the need for a quick trip to the liquor store.

If it is open on Sundays, that is.