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Minnesota liquor-store owner: Sunday sales should be campaign issue

WINGER, Minn.—All 201 Minnesota state legislative seats are up for election this year, and voters are hearing a lot about traditional campaign issues such as taxes and state spending, health care, education and transportation. These are all important issues.

But there is another tier of issues that state lawmakers will face next year that are of concern to voters, and that includes whether Minnesota will join 38 other states—including all of our neighboring states—to allow consumers the convenience of shopping for beer, wine and spirits on Sundays.

Opposition to this common-sense measure is led each year by many in the liquor industry, who don't want the state to mandate a day off. But those of us small business owners who depend on every sale just to keep the doors open, want the ability to give our customers what they want.

The population of Winger, Minn., is 225 people. That means I work all day, every day just to make ends meet. Every Sunday, the state forces me to turn away sales that I cannot afford to lose.

Sundays have become one of the busiest shopping days of the week. So the law prohibiting Sunday sales puts businesses like mine at a competitive disadvantage because every one of our bordering states—Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas—lets consumers shop on Sundays.

I believe it is time for liquor-store owners to come out of the antiquated, Prohibition-era view of their businesses. It just doesn't meet today's consumer demand. Plus, public opinion favors Sunday sales, especially among Minnesotans who buy wine, beer and spirits.

Changing the law would not force any business owner to open on Sundays, but it would provide others with the option to meet consumer demand if they so choose. I would like that option.

If the Legislature removes the prohibition on Sunday sales, the state also would benefit from the additional tax revenues generated from the sales. In addition, other local businesses may gain from additional food sales or other purchases that might accompany such a trip.

More sales, more jobs, and increased tax revenues: we all win.

I invite Herald readers to visit and see where their candidates stand on this issue. All candidates were asked, and many have responded.

While Minnesota's prohibition on Sunday sales of beer, wine and spirits should have been repealed years ago, lawmakers should commit to making it happen in 2017. Give consumers the convenience they want, and give liquor stores the choice to compete seven days a week or not, just like other retailers.

Olson is the owner of Depot Wine and Spirits in Winger, Minn.