Liquor stores prepare to open Sundays starting July 2

Wisconsin beer runs may be a thing of the past for Minnesota residents as liquor stores at home have been given the OK to open their doors on Sundays starting July 2.

Coon Rapids resident Shirley Ayers said, “I think it’s OK” when asked what she thinks about the state allowing liquor stores to be open on Sundays, starting July 2. Ayers was picking up some beer on a Friday afternoon at the city of Anoka’s Better Value Liquors store. Photo by Eric Hagen
Coon Rapids resident Shirley Ayers said, “I think it’s OK” when asked what she thinks about the state allowing liquor stores to be open on Sundays, starting July 2. Ayers was picking up some beer on a Friday afternoon at the city of Anoka’s Better Value Liquors store. Photo by Eric Hagen

Gov. Mark Dayton March 7 signed a bill repealing the 159-year state law prohibiting off-sale liquor sales on Sundays. Liquor stores will now be able to open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

“This new law reflects the desires of most people in Minnesota, who have made it clear to their legislators that they want to have this additional option,” Dayton said.

The Minnesota Senate passed the bill 38-28, and the House voted 88-39 in favor of Sunday sales.

Spring Lake Park resident Brad Nelson is delighted to see Sunday sales permitted at last.

“I’ve been waiting for it for decades,” he said. “Any of the blue laws are just stupid. We don’t need to be ultra conservative.”

Longtime Central Park Liquor customer Cris Lindwall, of Spring Lake Park, feels for the small businesses who will have to pay for extra help. She said six days should be adequate shopping time and that “they should just leave it the way it is.”

Jason Weber, of Cambridge, stopped by Central Park Liquor in Spring Lake Park last week. He is pleased to see the law change to support the free market, he said.

As manager of Central Park Liquor, Spring Lake Park’s municipal liquor store, Brian Hachey is disappointed in legislators.

“It’s a little frustrating from the operations standpoint,” he said.

Opening seven days a week instead of six will increase labor costs by about $15,000 annually, and Hachey has doubts sales will increase enough to cover those costs.

But Central Park Liquor will open seven days a week.

“The bottom line is if you’re not open and a customer comes, you lose that customer,” he said. “I don’t see it as being a choice, especially with the amount of competition that I have around me.”

He thinks customers might stop by the store on Sundays at first because of the novelty, and then he anticipates big crowds during football season.

“After that it’s just going to be my Saturday business, my Friday business trickling into Sunday,” he said, adding that Monday sales will likely be softer.

Hachey is even more concerned about what the next domino might be.

“My largest concern is expansion of beverage alcohol to grocery stores and convenience stores, specifically beer,” he said, predicting those businesses will fight for strong beer during the next Legislative session.

While the city of Anoka has historically been opposed to Sunday liquor sales whenever the topic was broached by the Minnesota Legislature, the city will adapt, said Dave Duwenhoegger, liquor operations manager for the two Better Values Liquor stores.

The city may have to hire more people, and the current staff will have to adjust to having a new work day, but it is uncertain how the bottom line will be impacted, Duwenhoegger said.

Nevertheless, Duwenhoegger said they need to be open on Sunday. He equated it to department stores opening on Thanksgiving instead of waiting for “Black Friday” because that’s what the competition does.

“Even though we’re a municipal operation, we really don’t act like one. We have to compete with everybody. And I just feel if we weren’t open, we’d lose a lot of business,” Duwenhoegger said.

Lori Yager, finance director for the city of Anoka, said the best outcome for the city may be to reduce hours on other days so its staff can cover Sundays without needing to hire many more people.

“We do not believe that our revenues will increase dramatically because of this change in the law,” she said.

Senators serving Anoka County communities were split on this issue with Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake; Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes; and Sen. Jerry Newton, DFL-Coon Rapids, voting with the majority, and Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka; Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin; and Sen. Carolyn Laine, DFL-Columbia Heights voting “no.”

Abeler said he personally did not mind whether this law changed, but said every change has an impact.

“I was concerned about the small mom and pops,” he said.

With the exception of Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-New Brighton, and Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, all representatives serving Anoka County communities voted in the affirmative.

First-term legislator Rep. Nolan West, R-Blaine, said he has been thanked by a lot of people since voting in favor of this law change.

“It’s definitely the most popular vote I’ve taken so far,” he said. “Very few people I heard from were against it.”

Jeff Wise, owner of Wiser Choice Liquors stores in Coon Rapids and Dayton, believes revenue will not change too much for him.

“The pie has six slices before. Now it has seven,” he said.

Wise also plans to open on Sundays and thinks his Coon Rapids store could gain enough new revenue to cover the costs, but he is worried about his Dayton store since it is in a less populated area.

But on the opposite side of the coin, Wise believes government should not tell businesses what to do.

And for anyone thinking liquor store owners should not feel obligated to stay open Sundays, Wise said it is not that simple.

“If I’m not open on Sundays, they’ll go to another location on Sunday. And then they might decide, I’m going start going there on Wednesdays or whatever day of the week they go,” he said. “When people say that, that’s showing their ignorance of business.”

Sen. Jerry Newton, DFL-Coon Rapids, has opposed Sunday sales in the past, but said the bill’s time had come to be passed.

“I’m personally happy it’s finished and we don’t have to do this fight every year,” he said.

First-term legislator Rep. Nolan West, R-Blaine, said he has been thanked by a lot of people since voting in favor of this law change.

“It’s definitely the most popular vote I’ve taken so far,” he said. “Very few people I heard from were against it.”

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  • Jeffy C

    And let’s be honest, there’s a guy who owns a place called “Wiser Choice Liquors.” Could there be any better instance of irony? Nobody makes wise choices after visiting a store like this. It’s kind of the reason they go to a store like this Plus, nobody is forcing “Wiser Choice” to be open on Sunday. Keep your store closed!

  • GladUCame

    Minnesota Sunday Liquor Sales = Welcome To The 21st Century!
    Does Minnesota Really Want To Be With The Antiqued States That Do Not Allow Sunday Liquor Sales That We Left Behind: Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Montana, and Indiana.
    In Minnesota, Liquor Stores Have The Total Option Choice Of Being Open Or Closed On Sundays.
    Also, It Would Be Embarrassing To Host A Superbowl Football Game With Closed Liquor Stores!

  • R.Hill

    People really need to re_evaluate their NEED to buy alcohol no matter what the day is.

  • R.Hill

    Very true, however alcohol kills more family members than any pencil,board, pants and scented candle.

  • R.Hill

    Forced?…..like a killer being “Forced” to jail. Law breaking has it’s rewards.