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Should Liquor Be Sold on Sundays?

Some local liquor stores have opposing views on a bill to lift the ban on Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota. Do you support Sunday liquor sales?

In Minnesota, we cannot buy liquor or beer on Sundays.

However, a bipartisan bill reintroduced in the Senate this week aims to repeal the long-standing ban of selling off-sale liquor on Sundays—and would allow liquor store owners the option of being open for business seven days a week.

The state’s liquor lobby—made up of Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association (representing 90 percent of the city-owned liquor stores) and the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association—have long opposed a repeal of the ban. However, public opinion polls show Minnesotans are in favor of Sunday sales.

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

Jason Alvey, owner of The Four Firkins in St. Louis Park, is one of the few liquor stores in the state hoping for the rule to change. For him, it's the principle behind the issue.

“The fact that I'm not allowed to be open because of an embarassing, Draconian, ridiculous law from a previous era is absolutely infuriating," said liquor store owner Jason Alvey. "Al Capone has been dead for a long time, people. This is a different world we live in today.”

Alvey said he's worked retail in three different industries in three different countries.

"It's a fact that no matter what industry you are in, the three busiest days of retail are Friday, Saturday and Sunday," he said. "Our customers want it. The number one rule of retail is listen to your customers."

For example, this year Christmas was on a Tuesday. The Saturday before Christmas was the biggest single day of business The Four Firkins has ever had. 

"If we could have been open that Sunday, I guarantee that it would have been a fantastic day to be open," Alvey said.  

Rick Stellmach, the manager of Tonka Bottle Shop in Minnetonka with a second store in Corcoran, sees the situation much differently than Alvey. 

"The state's big argument is that they are losing millions of tax dollars to Wisconsin, North Dakota and Iowa," Stellmach said. "The amount of sales will just make a tiny little dent."

He said liquor stores in cities such as Moorhead, Superior and Stillwater might benefit from repealing the ban, but his stores will not.

"It doesn't do anything extra for us other than we have to be open one more day," said Rick Stellmach. "It steals a little bit from Saturday and a little bit from Monday, and it all evens out at the end of the week."

Alvey has an answer to that.

He suggests that liquor stores open on Sundays to take advantage of weekend shoppers. And if they don't want to be open seven days a week, they should close on Mondays. "For God's sake, it is so simple," he said. "Monday is a terrible day for sales in the liquor industry."

"The choice should be ours," Alvey said. "And the fact that it's being held back by the industry itself is driving me crazy."

The Four Firkins sells "Vote Yes Sunday Sales" bumper stickers and encourages consumers to call their legislators.

"We need to mobilize the troops, so to speak, and that's what we're going to do," Alvey said.

Among those attempting to repeal the ban are the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the Minnesota Grocers Association and Minnesota Beer Activists.

Although Stellmach is not thrilled about it, he believes Sunday liquor sales are inevitable. 

"The next step will be selling liquor in grocery stores—it's a stepping stone," he said. "The big lobbyists will be saying 'now that liquor stores are open on Sundays, let's put it in grocery stores too.'"

The bill was reintroduced by Senators Roger Reinert (D-Duluth) and Jeremy Miller (R-Winona).

The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. If the Senate Commerce Committee Chair James Metzen decides to hear the bill it will continue to move along in the process; if not, the bill is likely to die.

 

Do you support Sunday liquor sales? Why or why not?

Horatio McDonglesteinberg February 08, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Open up Sundays for the love of Christ. *Not* selling on Sundays has no real purpose or value. It is actually a real inconvenience - so many social events happen on the weekend - cookouts, football games, summertime anything. Get with the rest of the nation. If you're a retail operator one of (the?) biggest fixed cost is your lease - you need/want to be open when people aren't at work. Simple as that.
Steve Adams February 09, 2013 at 02:02 AM
Not allowing off-sale liquor sales on Sunday DOES have value -- it gives liquor store owners and employees time to spend with friends and family. If the majority of liquor store owners prefer to stay closed on Sunday, let them. I've personally never had a situation where I planned so poorly that I was desperate to purchase liquor on a Sunday. Give the liquor industry a day off, for Pete's sake!
Leah February 10, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Serve the customers you claim to serve and open on Sundays!
David February 10, 2013 at 02:23 PM
If stores dont want to remain closed on Sunday, then they should be able to but it doesn't make sense to legally mandate that they can't be open. I think that Rick Stellmans comments really illustrates the arrogance of many people in this industry. His main concern is to make sure that competition does not open up so his store does not have to provide value to the consumers and he can continue his monopolistic practices. Thank you to Alvey for standing up to this outdated and arbitrary law.
itsme February 10, 2013 at 06:29 PM
How about selling beer and wine in grocery stores?? That' what the customer really wants!!
Derek Brown February 10, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Plenty of states have Sunday sales and grocery store sales, and they have not imploded or fell into the fiery pits of hell. Any argument against these proposals only serves the store owners and employees, certainly not enough of a reason for the government to be deciding. I can go to a restaurant or bar on Sunday and drink, why shouldn't we be able to buy it at a store and take it home.
Anton Treuenfels February 10, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Alvey makes it sound like liquor stores are reluctantly throwing out hundreds of eager customers with fistfuls of the dollars he lusts after at the stroke of midnight on Saturday. But he also says that those same disappointed and thirsty customers don't come back on Monday. There might be a case here if there really was a lack of 'buying time' causing liquore stores to be jammed full during the pitifully few hours they are allowed to operate. Not only is that not the case, they're already not open all the hours they could be now. Perhaps the reason there is no rioting in the streets on this issue is that many people who like to drink on Saturday night prefer not to on Sunday night. I hadn't thought of the negative impact this proposal would have on Sunday liquor sales in the restaurant and bar industry before I read an earlier note here. I have thought of the negative impact this would have on municipal liquor stores by increasing their costs if they chose to open on Sundays. Grocery store liquor sales will also hurt municipal liquor stores (like the one harbored in the same building as my neighborhood Cub - personally I've never found the distance to be a terrible burden) by stocking only the cheapest and most popular brands, taking that revenue away from many local governments.
jim johnson February 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM
II bet Mr Alvery will sing another song when and if liquor get into grocery stores
jim johnson February 10, 2013 at 11:42 PM
So you don't have enough days in the week or hours in a day to get your booze? you need some time managment
jim johnson February 10, 2013 at 11:46 PM
What about the kids that are filling the liq shelfes? What about the under age kids throwing out the trash and a bottle or two of liquor , only to come back at nite to go into the trash and get the booze to party ??
Sandra Lee February 11, 2013 at 11:05 PM
If they want to remain closed, that's fine. But alternately, if the owner of a store would like to be open on Sundays, why should they not be able to do that? I have never had to drive out of state on a Sunday for liquor, but I can tell you that if there were stores open here I would be shopping on Sunday. Any stores that want to remain closed on Sundays can make that decision on their own... They just will not be receiving my business!
Emily B February 15, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Great argument, except then I think we need to offer ALL retail industries a day off to spend with family and friends! Why on Earth should the poor clerks at WalMart or the gas station attendants suffer through 7 days a week while those folks over at the liquor store get a sanctioned day off? Guess what, business owners figure it out. Just like bakeries, often closed on Mondays, liquor stores will find what works best for them. I bet that Jason Alvey would be the first to admit that if he finds sales are in fact better on Monday than Sunday, he might just stay closed on Sundays... but he's a smart man who knows his customers and I'm guessing his Sabbath will be Monday.
Emily B February 15, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Great points Derek. Isn't it funny how business fights government regulation tooth and nail most of the time, yet when there is a bipartisan effort to REMOVE regulation, they fight tooth and nail to keep it. So odd.
Emily B February 15, 2013 at 05:42 PM
I'm not so sure its about Sunday night, as it is about Sunday afternoon. As a previous poster already said, many activities take place on Sunday afternoon (football games, family gatherings, etc) that people would like to purchases alcohol for. For whatever reason, not everyone plans ahead, or we all forget things not just alcohol, and so our stores do lose business to other states. I know folks from the Cities who have driven to Hudson, so its not just Moorhead and Superior who will see it. The impact might be less per store here because of shear numbers of stores available, but that isn't the point. And for all those casting the "get your act together and go out ahead of time to buy booze" stones, I sure as heck better never see you out Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve... :)
Emily B February 15, 2013 at 05:43 PM
What about them? Not sure your point, seems that could happen any day of the week...
David Arvidson February 15, 2013 at 05:45 PM
The little liquor store owners need a day off, banning Sundays is the best way to do that.
Thomas Dokken February 26, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Alvey knew the law when he opened his store. Sunday sales would also hurt restaruants and bars who benefit on this one day only by being the outlet for beer/wine/liquor sales to consumers. Additionally, Sunday sales does put the pressure on the smaller stores to open in order to not lose their regular customers to the bigger guy down the street who does open. Sunday sales isn't good for business and will result in prices going up to support the extra staff needed to open that 7th day.

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