Growls Growing to Allow Sunday Liquor Sales in Minn.

Updated: 12/27/2013 5:33 PM
Created: 12/27/2013 4:24 PM
By: Travis Dill

Sunday liquor sales have been off limits for decades in Minnesota, but another push to change the law is coming from beer activists and some brewers. Still, a local liquor store said the change would be bad for business.

The Canal Park Brewing Company has a full kitchen open for guests on Sunday, and they can even grab a pint of beer with dinner. But managers said customers have to forget getting a growler to go for now.

“It always hurts to turn customers away. It's not good for business,” Assistant General Manager Emily Mereness said. “And you know that they can go across the lake, across the bridge and get the same product from somebody else.”

Mereness said that really hurts the brewery's bottom line because growler sales drive the business. A Minnesota Senate bill to repeal the ban on Sunday sales failed in May with a 106-21 vote despite many seeing it as a common sense change.

“Yeah, it seems like an old-fashioned law that doesn't really apply to life today,” Mereness said.

But many liquor stores want the law to stay. One local store owner wanted to debunk the myth that she is just clinging to a day off.

“I work on Sunday; I just don't have my door open,” Katie Hagglund said.

Hagglund owns Last Chance Liquor in Duluth. She said being open on Sundays would not make for a dramatic increase in sales or bring Minnesota much extra sales tax revenue.

Hagglund was most worried that removing the Sunday liquor sale ban would lead to allowing liquor sales in grocery stores.

“Which just completely take small mom-and-pop shops like us, who have been open since 1966, out of the contest,” Hagglund said.

She said that competition with big name stores would force small shops like hers to close, but she was willing to compromise with brewers.

“A bar or brewpub that's open seven days a week already, I have no problem with them being able to sell their growlers out of their stores on Sunday to their customers,” Hagglund said.

There may be wiggle room to finally end the debate, but there is sure to be more growling from both sides as the capitol ferments early next years.

State Senator Roger Reinert championed the bill last year, but he could not be reached for comment on Friday. The legislative session begins on February 25.

Governor Mark Dayton said on Friday that he would sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

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