As goes a municipal liquor store, so goes a small town

Photo courtesy of Audrey Kletscher Helbling.
If your city-owned liquor store is the only thing standing between you and becoming a ghost town, aren’t you already one?

Thirty four municipal liquor operations in the state lost money last year, including three in southeastern Minnesota — Spring Grove, West Concord and Mazeppa, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports today.

The store in West Concord is in the red for the second straight year, which triggers a state law requiring a public hearing to be held on the store’s future.

“We have to keep this place open,” West Concord Mayor Janis Ray tells the paper. “We’re losing Main Street in small towns and unless they take a real active role in trying to save it, we are going to become a ghost town.”

The liquor business is housed in the former city hall. The bartender, Shannon Lisowski, is also one of the town’s librarians.

City officials say the town needs a “meeting place,” and for better or worse, the liquor store is it.

Related: Part I: Keeping The History In West Concord (Minnesota Prairie Roots)