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.
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?