Booze is big business for some metro cities

Most city-owned off-sale and on-sale liquor stores are in rural Minnesota.

However, the most profitable ones are here in The Cities land.

That’s the finding in state auditor Rebecca Otto’s new report checking up on the public operations.

Municipal liquor operations located within the 7-County Metro Area are considerably larger and more profitable than their Greater Minnesota counterparts. Sales by all Metro Area operations averaged $3.0 million in 2009, compared to average sales of $956,820 for all Greater Minnesota municipal liquor operations. In 2009, the average net profit of Metro Area municipal liquor operations was $214,573, compared to $66,469 for municipal liquor operations in Greater Minnesota.

The rationale for allowing public ownership of booze shops?

Back in the old days, and to some extent even now, private operators weren’t interested in trying to sell product in rural Minnesota.

So lawmakers years ago permitted municipally-owned liquor stores.

To be sure, there’s opposition then and now to allowing public ownership and sale of a product – liquor – that is correctly viewed as a pernicious product when it is abused, and causes untold personal human suffering and gigantic public health costs.

What do you think? Should city governments be involved in this business?

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