If liquor stores are allowed to sell liquor on Sundays, Gator's Liquor store owner Jon Mast thinks that could mean the end for some small liquor stores.
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 bill would also allow sales on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve (after 8 p.m.) and Christmas Day.
"I think that would be the end of the ma and pa liquor stores because I believe that just invites the grocery stores to get their alcohol and liquor in their stores," Mast said. "That means we're going to have to struggle to be open seven days a week."
While some say that repealing the ban would give the option of being open seven days a week, Mast said there really is no option.
"If you want to compete with the bigger stores, you'd have to be open," Mast said. When people say it’s your choice you can, but you pretty much have to be open — you’re forced to be open."
State Sen. Chuck Wiger told Oakdale Patch that he has concerns about liquor stores being open on Sundays.
"No one has contacted me to express support for the proposal," Wiger said. "I spoke recently to some area liquor store owners and they opposed the legislation."
Wiger said that the owners he spoke with said that most customers make the necessary purchases to get around the Sunday closings.
Another way to understand the issue is to look at the lobbyists behind it.
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.
"We just want to keep things as they are," Frank Ball, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, told the Star Tribune this week. "Wisconsin's got their way of doing things, and Minnesotans have their way of doing things."
Public opinion polls show Minnesotans are in favor of Sunday sales. Currently, Minnesota is one of 12 states that still ban liquor sales on Sunday.
According to a MinnPost report on a policy analysis presented two years ago during a Senate hearing, Sunday sales in Minnesota could mean an estimated $7.6 million to $10.6 million in new tax revenues.
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 political process; if not, the bill is likely to die before making it to the floor for discussion.