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Sunday Alcohol Sales in Minnesota? ‘Winners and Losers,’ Says Woodbury Liquor Store Owner

Do you support Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.

For Jack Lanners, owner of Woodbury’s MGM Liquor Warehouse, being able to sell alcohol on Sundays and holidays wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for the state.

“There are winners and losers,” he said.

A bipartisan bill reintroduced in the Senate this week aims to repeal the long-standing ban of selling off-sale liquor on Sundays. The bill would also allow sales on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve (after 8 p.m.) and Christmas Day.

Liquor store owners would have to weigh the extra costs of being open on Sundays versus a seventh day of sales, and much of that is based on a store’s proximity to the Wisconsin border, Lanners said.

There are also moral implications.

“I don’t know how convenient liquor should be,” said Lanners, who lives in Woodbury. “Do you want drive-through?”

Also, he noted studies showing that in other states, where Sunday sales are legal, people don’t buy more alcohol—their buying patterns simply change.

“Minnesota doesn’t lose a lot of business,” Lanners said. “What it should be, I don’t know.”

State Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Woodbury Republican, said she’s always supported the change.

“I voted for it last year too,” she said.

On Sundays in Wisconsin, “You’re going to see a lot of Minnesota plates,” Kieffer said.

The problem for many independent liquor stores is that places like Sam’s Club have extra cashiers on hand on Sundays anyway, and being able to sell alcohol wouldn’t mean as much, in terms of extra costs, for those larger retailers, Kieffer said.

For liquor store owners, opening on Sunday—should the bill pass—would be a business decision, she said.

Currently, Minnesota is one of 12 states that still ban liquor sales on Sunday.

"We just want to keep things as they are," Frank Ball, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, told the Star Tribune. "Wisconsin's got their way of doing things, and Minnesotans have their way of doing things."

The bill was reintroduced by Senators Roger Reinert (D-Duluth) and Jeremy Miller (R-Winona). Last June, 59 percent of Minnesotans polled by Public Policy Polling said they were in favor of the proposal.

The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. If the Senate Commerce Committee Chair decides to hear the bill it will continue to move along in the political process; if not, the bill is likely to die before making it to the floor for discussion.

Real-Time Reaction

Patch asked people about the bill on our Facebook page.

Jason: I have always thought it was weird you can't buy alcohol from a liqueur store and that you can't buy a car from a dealership on a Sunday. Neither have ever made sense to me.

Woodbury Patch: They call those "Blue Laws," I think, but I don't know why. It does seem a bit antiquated.

James: They sure do, but now the companies will fight tooth and nail against opening up. It's another days overhead with less sales. Makes more sense to allow sales of beer/wine at grocery stores that will already be open. Then the liquor stores will come around when they see business dwindle.

Jason: I remember when I was a kid in the late 70's barbershops were all closed on Sundays and Mondays. Looking back now, it seems stupid.

Woodbury Patch: I talked to the MGM Woodbury Wine & Spirits owner and Rep. Kieffer. I'll have something up soon.

Amelia: I'm all for it!!!

Mike: I have no issue. Times have changed and our laws should reflect those changes accordingly.

Kathryn: As a border city, we should be interested in this legislation as it will affect Woodbury more than a lot of other cities. Personally, I have NEVER in 18 years of living here gone over to Hudson when stores were closed in MN. I wonder what the liquor stores in Hudson say about being open on Sundays? Or has it just always been that way, so they wouldn't notice the change....

Sharyl: I am for it.... I entertain a lot of Sundays.... And sometimes forget to get a bottle of wine. Its ridiculous! I have driven to Hudson to buy a bottle of wine or some beer ( impromptu pool parties) and the cashiers in Hudson say its their busiest day b/c of MN shoppers. If liquor stores want to be open on Sundays .... Let them. Makes no sense.....

Jennifer: I used to work in Hudson on Sundays and the parking lots were always full in front of the liquor stores.

 

Stillwater Patch editor Shawn Hogendorf contributed to this report.

 

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Kris Janisch February 05, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Updated this post with some comments from our Facebook page.
Joe February 06, 2013 at 05:10 PM
The MN Licensed Beverage Association can go jump off a bridge. I am tired of their selfish positions on these issues. If you don't want to be open on Sundays then don't. No one will force you to. But if stores along the Wisconsin border would like to do business on Sundays instead of losing it to Wisconsin then let them. Maybe we should mandate gas station to be closed on Sundays too so the owners don't have to pay for labor on Sundays. Everyone can just drive to Wisconsin on Sundays to buy gas. Closing liquor stores on Sundays is just as stupid. It’s also stupid to prohibit grocery stores from selling liquor and beer (over 3.2) and wine. I have been on vacation in Florida and is sure is nice to pick up your 12 pack of Corona when you are at the grocery store instead of having to go seek out a special "liquor store." You can even buy regular beer at gas stations in Wisconsin. Why do we have to be so protective of these liquor stores in Minnesota? No other business gets such protection from competition.
Kevin Unwin February 06, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I am all for it! We are all very busy. Running kids around all week and juggling jobs is a reality for many. We like to entertain and Sunday is our best option. I have had to travel to Hudson way too many times and would love to see this antiquated law changed. Nobody forces stores to be open - they have the option of closing thier doors on Sunday if they wish.
Kris Janisch February 06, 2013 at 11:00 PM
What are the reasons for not doing it? Besides "Wisconsin's got their way of doing things, and Minnesotans have their way of doing things."
SomeGuy February 11, 2013 at 04:21 PM
"Nobody forces stores to be open - they have the option of closing thier doors on Sunday if they wish." True. And, if a store offers something unique or has very good prices, people will make time to go there other days *if* they are closed on Sundays. I'll drive to the Casanova in Hudson or Dennis Brothers in Cottage Grove (or Heritage in Roseville) specifically *because* they offer some beers and wines I won't find elsewhere, regardless of days of the week. But there is no argument against giving stores the opportunity to sell on Sunday which makes sense (same for auto sales). As for the drive-through statement, Lanners shows he is not to be taken seriously in this discussion. I am surprised he didn't immediately go for a "What about the children!" quote.
Cindy March 03, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Auto sales are completely different than liquor. In order to complete the auto sale the Minnesota Department of Transportation must be open and they are not. Buyers would be required to return to the dealerships on Monday to complete the sale which I don't think they would like. I'm not an expert but I know there is much more to it than the old 'blue laws' some of us experienced as young children.

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