Minnesota lawmaker seeks to allow Sunday liquor sales
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Anyone looking for off-sale liquor on Sundays better stay on the North Dakota side of the river, because Minnesota stores are closed.
But if a bill from Minnesota state Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Edina, passes, liquor stores there will have the option of opening on Sundays like stores in all bordering states, including North Dakota.
Local liquor store managers say they don’t think the law change would affect their business much, but Loon said the issue, which Legislature has rejected in the past, is now receiving more support than ever across the state.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said in late December, a few weeks before Loon’s bill was introduced Monday, that he would sign a bill for Sunday liquor sales if it was presented to him, she said.
Allen Dukart, general manager for all Hugo’s Wine and Spirits stores in Grand Forks, N.D., and East Grand Forks, said he doesn’t think opening Minnesota stores on Sunday would affect his business much.
“Either way, the customers will be served,” Dukart said. If open on Sunday, the East Grand Forks store would probably see more traffic, but the Grand Forks stores would probably see a little less, he said.
There’s one Hugo’s Wine and Spirits in East Grand Forks and two in Grand Forks.
Mike Paul, owner of Best Buy Liquors in Crookston, also said the change wouldn’t affect his business much. It would probably just spread out his current level of sales over an additional day, he said.
If the law does change, Paul said he’s still not sure if his store will open Sundays.
“If my competition would be open, I’d be open,” he said. “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be open on Sunday.” He said he thinks “it’s nice to give people a day off.”
The East Grand Forks store would open on Sundays if the law allowed it, Dukart said.
He guessed that smaller, rural stores in the region may still choose to stay closed on Sundays because of the labor costs of being open an extra day.
Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, said she’s not sure of her thoughts on the bill yet, and that she will seek out the opinions of her constituents and local liquor stores before voting on the issue when the legislative session begins in late February.
“I want to know what the constituents and business owners want,” Kiel said.
Loon said she has received many emails from people all around Minnesota, supporting the option of opening liquor stores on Sundays.
She added that there has also been a lot of social media buzz in support of the bill, and that she’s “encouraged by the positive feedback.”
For Loon, the bill is about providing “more local control to communities,” she said. The law change would not mandate opening liquor stores on Sundays.
“Local communities can certainly set up more strict rules” if they want, Loon said. “I think it should be up to communities.”