Licensed Beverage Association opposes Sunday liquor sales because members want a day off

Senator Reinert's Sunday liquor sales bill appears dead on arrival.
Senator Reinert's Sunday liquor sales bill appears dead on arrival.
Image by Tatiana Craine -- bottles photo from stevendepolo's Flickr

Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a brief hearing on a bill introduced by Sen. Roger Reinert, D-Duluth, that would legalize Sunday liquor sales.

SEE ALSO: Study: Sunday liquor sales would boost state revenue

Polling shows Minnesotans support Sunday sales by a two-to-one margin, yet the latest effort to eliminate the state's most notorious blue law seems just as doomed as previous ones.

A Pioneer Press report explains why:

[O]pponents [of Sunday sales] contend that, in practice, it would force liquor stores to stay open seven days a week.

"If you don't open on (a) seventh day and your competitors do, there goes your customer base," said Edward Reynoso, political director for Teamsters 32 Joint Council.

Maryann Campo, who opened South Lyndale Liquors in Minneapolis in 1975, said the bill would raise her store's labor costs without boosting profits.

"We don't see any economic advantage," Campo said. "Our customers have never asked us for Sunday sales."

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association has lobbied effectively against the change every year with the same argument: Its member stores want one day off a week, and the extra day merely would spread six days of sales over a full week.

Of couse, allowing liquor stores to be open Sunday wouldn't actually force store owners to be open Sunday, a distinction that isn't lost on Jason Alvey, owner of the Four Firkins liquor store in St. Louis Park.

"I pay rent 52 days a year that I'm not allowed to open my business, and I think that's very frustrating," Alvey told senators. "Just because the majority of liquor stores don't want to be open on a Sunday does not mean it should be a law."

Furthermore, does anyone really believe that being open Sunday wouldn't result in additional sales for liquor stores? Anecdotally, there have been many times when I've wanted to pick up a sixer on Sunday only to quickly realize I'd have to drive to Wisconsin to do so. (I then find myself whetting my whistle at the nearest bar.)

Nonetheless, the arguments made by Sunday sales opponents appear to have won the day again, as Reinert acknowledged to MinnPost that "this issue is not going anywhere" this year. A companion in the House probably won't even get a hearing, Reinert said.

"You have a powerful lobby in the liquor stores. You have a powerful union with the Teamsters, and those two pair up, and they're here every day talking to legislators," Reinert told MinnPost.

In other words, until Minnesotans start calling their legislators and making their support for Sunday sales loud and clear, the law won't change. Then again, it's probably easier to plan ahead and make a trip to the liquor store on Saturday (or go to the bar on Sunday) then it is to pick up the phone and give an elected official a piece of your mind.

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