WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- Special — Last week the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill to allow Sunday off-sale liquor sales on a bi-partisan basis. The Senate will be voting on the same measure this week. The bill is expected to pass the Senate although not by as wide a margin as in the House chamber. Governor Dayton has said if the bill reaches his desk, he will sign it.
The bill has come up several times in the past, but has not been able to muster enough votes to win. The bill is being pushed hard by the big box liquor stores in communities near the border where it is legal to sell in some states.
Proponents of the bill say it will create more revenue for them and tax revenue for the state if the bill becomes law.
Opponents of the bill come from small liquor stores and municipal stores particularly in the same areas that big liquor stores are pushing for it. They say it will not increase their business but it will increase their cost, and in some cases could put them out of business. Although there is a caveat that stores are not required to open on Sunday if they do not wish to.
Judy Schoborg, manager of the Westbrook VFW Club, says it really doesn’t affect them much, but the municipals might not like it because they would have to hire extra help for the extra day if they decide to open the extra day. “I can’t imagine it being a big impact for us,” she said.
A concern for her is the big box stores could have an impact on the smaller stores in some cases.
“We already try to keep our prices as competitive as we can, but the Big Box Stores have an advantage there by being able to buy cheaper in bigger quantities. We really don’t have the space to buy in much bigger quantities,” she says.
Betsy McDonald, an owner of
Bonnie and Clyde’s two, said, “it will probably help our business some, since we are already open on Sunday. You would be surprised how many people we have to turn down on Sunday, who ask to buy off sale.”
She worries if some day the legislature will try to allow liquor to be sold at grocery stores or drug stores. She would not like to see liquor sold in the big box stores, noting, it’s always a problem when people shop out of town whether it is
for liquor, or groceries. It hurts the small towns.
McDonald says, she has not had any of their customers say anything pro or con about the Sunday liquor issue.
The way it is now, not being able to sell on Sunday we probably have a few people that will stop in for a drink. But she still doesn’t expect it to be much of an impact for them.
In talking with Paula McGarvey, city clerk, at Walnut Grove she says the council has not really considered what they will or will not do if Sunday liquor passes.
She notes there has always been a consensus to not have the Bar and Grill open on Sunday.
She says the Bar and Grill is a community business that is run for the benefit of it’s residents.
Most of our business comes from patrons that support the business and are local. We hope those people will continue to support the business whether or not the Sunday liquor bill passes.
Another note to think about is that cities have the power to determine how many liquor licenses they will grant. That could be a factor in the future if the legislature were to eventually allow liquor in grocery and drug stores. But for the most part pundits expect that to be a long way down the road if ever.
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