Sunday liquor begins, but small store owners aren’t happy

Published 11:01 am Saturday, July 1, 2017

Most Austin liquor stores will be open for the first day of Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota — but they aren’t necessarily excited.

Liquor stores in Minnesota will be able to sell alcohol beginning Sunday — and stores contacted by the Daily Herald all said they would be open.

Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits, Cheers Liquor, Bell Liquor, Apollo Liquor, Star Liquor and Lyle Liquor all said they would be open.

According to the new law, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton in March, stores do not have to stay open if they choose.

And, despite protest against the law by some smaller stores who cited higher staffing and operating costs, those contacted Friday said they would be open to stay competitive.

“I am not in favor of it, not at all,” said Jim Baldus, owner of Apollo Liquor and Superette. “But we were forced into it. And, there are so many people talking about it [you have to be open]. … We’ll try it for three months and see how it goes.”

Bell Liquor store owner Sheri Kokot, who has spoken against the change in the past, said she wasn’t happy about it either.

“But what are you going to do?” she said. “In my mind, it’s just one step closer for liquor getting into grocery stores. That’s scary [for smaller operators].”

“It was nice having a day off; a day that you could spend with your family, go to church, have that time,” she said of the old law, which stood for almost 160 years.

She said Sunday football will buoy some sales on Sundays, but only through the beginning of February, when the season ends. March and April, she said, “will be horrible” for sales.

“Will it be profitable?” she said. “If not, do you close, then? It’s a tough call.”

Most stores will be open the maximum hours specified in the law, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; an employee at Cheers Liquor said it would close at 5 p.m. on Sundays.

A Lyle Liquor spokesman said it would be able to sell off-sale on Sunday as well. However, he said, the issues for him were a bit different from regular store owners.

“We’re a bar and open anyway,” he said.