Do you support a craft brew compromise on Sunday liquor sales?

Growlers and pints at Bemidji Brewing Company beers (File / John Heller for MPR)

“An effort for a full repeal of Minnesota’s ban on retail sales of alcohol on Sunday appears unlikely this session, but lawmakers may give more freedom to the state’s burgeoning craft brewing movement,” writes Associated Press reporter Mike Cronin.

A Senate committee on Wednesday kept alive one bill that would legalize Sunday sales by small brewers and another that would open taprooms on Sundays and allow the sale of 64-ounce containers called “growlers.”

Sen. Roger Reinert, a Duluth Democrat who has championed Sunday alcohol sales for years, conceded that he didn’t have enough support from the Commerce Committee for a complete rollback of the law.

“There aren’t the votes,” Reinert said in a Capitol hallway outside the room where the Senate commerce committee was conducting a hearing. “But we’re clearly moving forward.”

Today’s Question: Do you support a craft brew compromise on Sunday liquor sales?

The craft brewing industry continues to grow in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, help MPR News cover this rapidly changing and dynamic industry by sharing your knowledge and views of beer and brewing.

  • PaulJ

    I would be for it, but voting for beer seems like a shameless attempt to woo the lower classes.

    • Isn’t that what money is there for? Don’t all people deserve to have the right to spend their money how they see fit? I think they do, even though I may not approve of how they might spend it, but it’s their right if they earned the money, isn’t i?

      • PaulJ

        Free beer on Sunday would be more politically popular.

        • Bill

          There’s free wine at some venues

    • Zepaw

      I don’t mind political pandering when it’s a smart policy anyway.

  • bob hicks

    If we can’t have totally open alcohol sales on Sunday, the craft beer exception is a good beginning. And once we get that my sense is that totally open Sunday sales won’t be far behind.

  • Gary F

    Either you do or you don’t. The government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.

  • marteljn

    Absolutely not. Its 2014, let us by any product we want to buy on Sunday. We can handle it – no need to slowly introduce us to the idea of buying alcohol on Sunday. Exceptions like these are absurd and serve no purpose other than to confuse people from other states. It is just as dumb as the concept of 3.2 beer! Seriously, what is that all about?

  • Colleen Peterson

    I think if they open it up – it should be for all alcohol, not just craft beer. If people need to buy it 7 days a week, then they should be able to buy any type of alcohol.

  • Yes. Many people seem to want the “My way or the highway” approach, i.e., if they don’t completely open up alcohol sales to all, why make exceptions?” I find that ludicrous. I like the idea of supporting the craft brewers because they NEED the support, whereas the corporate brewers and distillers don’t. Give the little guy or little gal a break and let people spend their money as they see fit!

    • That’s not what you’re claiming above. You’re claiming above that Sunday off is because of giving the business owner a day off.

      Serious question here: I live in a town without a craft brewery. Why shouldn’t the residents of my town be able to buy beer on Sunday just because we don’t have a craft brewery whereas someone that lives 2 hours away in Duluth can? You are exactly right, let people spend their money as they see fit whether it’s on Sunday or for craft beer or swill.

  • I would support the compromise reluctantly. The Sunday ban is archaic, and should go away entirely, but if it has to go in steps-then I guess that’s fine.

  • MNBeerActivists

    You don’t hear small local craft brewers worrying about spreading 6 days of sales across 7 days. We all know this compromise was an attempt to appease voters and take pressure off politicians in the short term. Sunday sales for all!

  • I like this for two reasons. First, bans on Sunday liquor sales are absurd. Then, I’m in favor of anything that boosts small businesses at the expense of big businesses. I would change the way I limited it though, by saying if your brewery/winery/distillery had less than $X in gross sales in the previous year, you can get a license for Sunday sales at the location where you produce your product.

  • Larry

    Eliminate the Sunday ban. What other state outside of the Bible Belt bans Sunday sales?

    • Zepaw

      It’s actually only about half “southern”. Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

  • Jim G

    No. I support the full repeal of prohibition.

  • juice

    Eliminate the ban imeadiatly….legislators want something to do…put a stop to that new building they want but do not need….legislating is not intended to be a full time Minnesota job ! period !

  • Ted C.

    I support it as being a step in the right direction. The current laws that ban liquor sales on Sunday should indeed be changed to reflect the desires of the voting public but it’s not going to happen over night. The lobbyists that support the current laws are strong and won’t go down without a fight but repeal of the Sunday ban seems inevitable, just not this year.

  • Andrew Hine

    If the Liquor Store Lobby thinks 7 of 7 days is too many, then does it follow that they would prefer 5 of 7 days, i.e., banning sales on Saturdays AND Sundays?
    I doubt it. Why 6 of 7 is their only choice is unclear. And if they are proper capitalists, they ought to support greater competition in the market place.

    • What in the hell is a proper capitalist? A capitalist is a person who believes in the ability to profit from their investments. You make Sunday alcohol sales legal and you will have dozens of ma & pa type places LOSING profits because of what Dave (above) said, the stores that chose to remain closed won’t just suffer on those Sundays, but because people get into the habit of patronizing a certain place, they’ll continue to bypass the ma & pa store in favor of the place they bought from on Sunday. So yes, if by “proper capitalist” you mean a big box Walmart type eat-up-all-the-independents type capitalist, yes you’re exactly right. That’s what would happen if Sunday sales is legalized.

      • Andrew Hine

        “Proper capitalist” is an oxymoron.
        Tongue in cheek.
        I wouldn’t be caught dead in a WalMart.

  • Bill

    At least we’re not Germany, then everything would be closed on Sundays

    • Chris Moewes

      At least that would be fair. Why should liquor stores (and auto sales) be the only thing you can’t buy on Sundays?

    • Andy Havok

      The logic of “no business” days is to support laborers. If we want to do that, great.

      • In my mind that’s the whole point. But you have a lot of overzealous people up here trying to convince us they need access to alcohol 24/7 and if they don’t get it they walk away mad and like no one else gets it. How about the ones who feel as though they just have to have seven-day access put themselves in the shoes of the liquor store owner who wants a day with his/her kids? This ain’t about alcohol. It’s about the freedom to have a day off once in a while.

        • If you think that the reason this law exists is to support laborers, you’re wrong. It exists because of religion. If we want to back a law that support laborers, then we should pass a law that bans all business on whatever day we pick as labor off day. Period.

          instead to support laborers, lets see laws mandating two days off in a row, mandatory paid sick leave and vacation, a living wage, increasing social security, a single payer healthcare system.

          I’ll put myself in the shoes of a business owner, because I own several service sector businesses. If I want a day off, I take it and spend a day with my family. That’s what employees are for and that’s what closing the business for a day is about. Some weeks I work 7 days a week, because that’s just how it is when you own a business and sometimes I take many more off in a row. That should be my choice and not the state forcing it onto me.

  • lisa b

    An alcoholic is an alcoholic every day…..so, if you choose to be a Christian, then why not be one every day? Controversial words, right? I hope I can explain – please read on…..

    The Sunday liquor ban dates back to Prohibition which lasted from 1920 to 1933 and Sunday was chosen as a day of holy reverence.

    Speaking as a recovering alcoholic who is happy/relieved/grateful to be no longer drinking, I do believe that a Sunday ban is in truth, meaningless in this day and age. And as a church-going lush (seeming contradiction, I know), I made sure that I would buy my alcohol on Saturday lest I ‘felt’ like drinking on Sunday and not have it available. On behalf of the drinkers mindset, all it takes it a little extra (and annoying) planning.

    My having a problem with alcohol didn’t matter which day of the week it was. Nor did the fact that I choose to be a Christian. I was both of those – every day. It couldn’t be controlled by anyone else……regardless of the laws.

    Personally, I think alcohol ought to be banned altogether OR make it available in its entirety. Religious reverence and drunkenness are not the point of this law. It has become a control issue between the state, politicians, and extremists from both sides of the spectrum.

    • lisa b

      With all that said, be it a craft beer or a bottle of vodka – alcohol is alcohol. Supporting craft beer (and other small businesses) could be done in better/different ways than this.

      I’ll step off my beer case now….

  • lisa b

    Did anyone else notice that the editor of this article has an email with the name of a beer in it?

    No? Must be the lush in me….. lol.

  • Jimmy H

    Keep your laws off of my beer, or wine, is whiskey depending on my mood. I do not get this no alcohol thing on Sunday, and I especially don’t get that it’s the liquor store owners who what to keep this arcanic church law on the books. I’m calling BS.

    And while we’re at it, I want to build a still in my back yard. Piss off ATF, there has never been a bigger waste of governmental resources.

  • lindblomeagles

    I can’t believe that this really merits a conversation. Our we THAT addicted to alcohol that we can’t go 1 day out of the week without it? All most of us have to do is head to church on Sunday’s and take a swig there where the shot ACTUALLY REPRESENTS something more than an excuse to lose ourselves or reality. And boy don’t we look like hypocrites? We won’t pass marijuana, but we’re becoming irate over Sunday bans on liquors and microbrews. Whose MORE ADDICTED? The crack, meth, or heroine head or those of us who get parched without MGD or Coors Lite???

    • Bill

      I don’t think MGD or Coors Lite are exactly “craft beers.”
      Maybe Kraft beers.

    • KTN

      We already do go one day a week without the ability to purchase alcohol. The point of Sunday liquor sales is not addiction, but the free market allowing the purchase of a legal product by adults.

    • Jeffrey

      well I think the point is that *we’d* like to decide whether or not we’re so addicted to alcohol that we can’t go one day without it instead of a bunch of people who don’t know us deciding for the whole state. Knowhaddamean?

    • mnanimator

      I can’t believe that this really merits a conversation either, for the exact opposite reason as yours. I’m going to lobby for a law that says you can’t buy your tobacco on Sunday.

    • Seriously? If I don’t believe in your religion, why do I have to be subjected to its restrictions in a society that allows for all religions — many of which have no such restrictions. This Sunday ban is just silly and the supports are on the losing side of this issue. We will have Sunday sales in the future. It’s just a matter of time.

  • C. David Kearsley

    No, I do not support a compromise on this issue. What do I support is the removal of undue religious influence in the public and commercial sectors, and its resulting impositions on our civil laws. The Sunday prohibition of alcohol sales represents just such an imposition. I am not a conspicuous consumer of alcohol, but I would like the option of being able to purchase a 12-pack of beer or a couple of bottles of wine for an impromptu Sunday afternoon get-together.

    • lisa boylan

      Being the religious gal and recovering lush that I am, I happen to agree with you. Alcohol consumption is a personal choice. Not a government (or church) one.

      If I could drink an ice cold beer on a Sunday afternoon, I’d like the freedom to do so. But, I can’t…..sadly, I liked that part a bit too much. Just because I have a religious viewpoint and a prior problem with drinking, doesn’t mean that everyone else does, too.

      I don’t think that limiting the type of alcohol being sold is appropriate either. It’s an all or nothing thing to me. I understand the laws that prohibit alcohol sales between 2-6 am, but again, that’s a total personal view….

  • dXtargetguy

    No, I don’t support any compromise on this bill. It really is frustrating to live in a state of such stodgy, outdated populace. Minnesotans are a joke. They claim to be liberal and yet they can’t muster a quorum to get into the new millennium. Ignorance is bliss and this state of bliss is ignorant of people’s right to make a choice seven days a week. The law would not prevent the merchant closing his doors on any day of the week. Staying open might even require hiring another taxpayer and generating some additional tax revenue. Hopefully, our diversity will overcome these blue laws of yore.

  • mnanimator

    Ridiculous. What’s not to vote for?! At this point it clearly CLEARLY illustrates who’s buying into the liquor distributor’s (liquor mafia’s) argument. No Sunday liquor sales? Fine. No Sunday cigarette sales then, either. NO SUNDAY TOBACCO SALES period.

  • Chris Moewes

    The opponents of Sunday sales have really pulled one over (or filled the pockets) of our legislature.

    The argument that there is no increase in revenue doesn’t address the issue. Anywhere you go where there are Sunday sales, you see Minnesotan shopping at the liquor stores. They are NOT spending their money in Minnesota stores. They are spending it in Wisconsin or Iowa or North Dakota stores. Those people may not buy more per person due to Sunday sales, but will be shopping more at Minnesota stores.

    The point about “planning your shopping” is presumptuous. People have jobs, and families and schedules. Sunday may be the only day to do their shopping. Why should one consumer’s expectation of what day you should shop dictate when you can go things. Using this logic, why not be closed Monday or Wednesday. It’s a completely arbitrary distinction.

    The main point is about choice. Giving businesses the right to decide if they are open. Letting them make the decision if there is an economic incentive to opening their doors on Sundays. Not letting the state make decisions for them based on some arbitrary distinction of the day of the week.

    Once again the special interests (can you say on-sale liquor lobby) have controlled the discussion and swayed the legislature to ignore the will of the people.

    • mnanimator

      Exactly. With their logic, they should only be open one day a week. Pick a day. Here, you can use my dart.

    • Andy Havok

      Well, the argument I would have made has been said. I can get back to work now.

    • Zepaw

      There have been dozens of times in my life where I was out Sunday shopping and would have stopped by my local liquor store if they were open. I never once came back Monday or such to grab what I would have.

  • Zepaw

    Unless the next move is to ban all drinking on Sunday then why not get rid of these blue laws? So silly.

  • Maximas Gladiator

    “Beer is god’s gift to the poor man”
    Why deny a poor man gods gift on the lords day?
    How cruel and inhumane can you get ?

  • Who in the world is against Sunday sales in Minnesota? It makes absolutely no sense to restrict a liquor store that wants to be open on Sunday from being open on Sunday. Why should Sunday be any different than any other day? If you’re against buying or selling liquor on Sunday for personal or religious reasons, then don’t buy or sell liquor on Sundays, but don’t subject the rest of us to this silly restriction.

    • Chris Moewes

      The biggest opponents to it are the on-sale retailers (bars, restaurants, and the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association). The claim is that their members want a day off, but since their members are mostly bars and restaurants that can already sell on Sunday it seems more likely those businesses don’t want to lose the sales to people who just want to grab a six-pack and go home. Plus the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association has a strong lobby, stronger it appears than the will of the constituents.

      • echoegami

        “…those businesses don’t want to lose the sales to people who just want to grab a six-pack and go home. Plus the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association has a strong lobby, stronger it appears than the will of the constituents.”

        Chris, nail/head, you hit it.

      • You said, “their members are mostly bars and restaurants,” well, I disagree. Like I mentioned above, the liquor store retailer deserves a voice in this issue. They deserve a day off too. They have families and they want family time. That’s a big part of the issue as I see it. If you really want to drink on Sunday you can go to a bar.

        • Chris Moewes

          So your argument is that liquor store employees need to have a guaranteed day off? If they do, then why don’t all employees? If you really think that is the case, then you should/would support prohibiting all sales, retail, food, liquor, services on Sunday? That wouldn’t seem to be the case since you are encouraging people to go to the bar on Sunday. Why don’t the bar staff deserve a guaranteed day off?

          But is it really the place of the government to decide who should be able to work and on what days? I didn’t think that was the place of the government to control our lives and businesses that way. And why Sunday? Why not Saturday. Wouldn’t it be nice if no one had to work on Saturday? Or how about Wednesday.

          Let the business owners and the market place decide when it makes sense to be open. Don’t let the state decide thatt

        • If a liquor store retailer wants a day off, he or she can schedule an employee or just not open the store. I live in a tourism driven town and some stores close on Sunday despite it being one of the busiest days.

          And the Sunday you can go to a bar argument fails on its face, because if I want to buy a drink on Sunday, the state is forcing me to do so at a bar. Maybe, I don’t like bars or don’t go to them.

    • Not silly at all. What Dave said in the first half of his post above should underscore how complex this issue is. You simply cannot take the liquor store retailer out of the mix when discussing this issue. I am not a liquor store owner, never have been, but I always appreciated my local sellers and wanted to support them. They should have a say. Besides, what’s the big deal with planning ahead and buying what you need the day before?

      • It is silly. The issue isn’t complex; allow Sunday sales and let the liquor store owners decide if they want to be open on Sunday. You think the issue is complex because the public is allowing one special interest to control all our action.

        Your arguing by question argument about planning ahead doesn’t fly here either. A one stronger counter argument: for people that aren’t heavy drinkers, they may not know they want a beer until Sunday rolls around. At that point, they can’t buy it. Or when a bunch of friends decide to do something impromptu, they can’t get beer on Sunday. Your argument says that we must always have the right kind of liquor and beer in the fridge in order to accommodate whatever recreational whim that might happen on Sunday. Or taking your argument to the logical conclusion, because you never know what kind of drink you may want, you need to stock a full bar in your house just for Sundays, otherwise the state is forcing you to go to a bar to get a drink on Sunday.

        This thing is just silly. We live in a secular state, so we shouldn’t force any one religious value on all store owners or liquor/beer drinkers. The individual store owners should be able to decide about which days of the week that they want to sell. There is no fact based evidence that shows that Sunday sales produce anymore negative consequences than sales on any other day of the week. And not allowing sales on Sunday in the face of the evidence is just silly.

  • Dave

    So here’s the issue as it was explained to me:

    Sunday liquor sales are actually opposed not by the religious or the teetotalers, but by the liquor store owners themselves.

    The reasoning is that, as a small shop, they have to run and maintain the store every single day it operates. Staff costs money, and while I’m not in the industry, I don’t see liquor store owners being driven around in a Rolls Royce.

    So, with that in mind, the obvious choice is to just stay closed on Sunday, right?

    Well, you can’t do that. If you stay closed, but your competition down the road decides they want to be open on Sunday, all of a sudden you’re falling behind. The bigger issue is that when someone drives past your store on Sunday because you’re closed, they get used to going to the other store…so even when when they need to make a beer run in the middle of the week, they instinctively drive past your store on the way to your competitor. People are creatures of habit; once you lose a customer, it’s an uphill battle to get them back.

    To be sure, of course it didn’t start this way. It was likely imposed originally out of religious concerns. However, the small liquor stores have come to depend on Sunday as their only day off during the week.

    Once it was explained to me this way, what was once a backwards blue law now suddenly made sense to me.

    Now again, this is how it was explained to me, and it is very much a hypothetical situation. There’s no reason to think that that would happen at all, but it’s the best argument I’ve heard so far. I believe when this came up a few years ago, the Strib mentioned in an article that it was in fact the liquor store lobby, comprised mostly of small mom and pop stores, that kept pushing to keep liquor stores closed on Sunday.

    And no, I’m NOT a liquor store owner. In fact, I recently moved away from MN to the south. In this state, beer and wine flows freely in grocery stores, but liquor is sold by the state (ABC stores). The state decides what you can buy, where you can buy it, and how much you pay for it (every store sells for the same price, and it’s a hell of a lot more than I ever paid in MN). Suddenly I long for the backwards blue laws of MN.

    • Joe

      So close on Monday or Tuesday, the usual slow days. Many restaurants and hair salons, for instance, do that. I’m lead to believe it works quite well for them.

      • Yes to what Joe is saying. I heard this argument to and saw an interview or two of owners saying they want Sundays for family time. Can’t begrudge them that. By itself, though, the “just stay open Monday or Tuesday” argument doesn’t help with that because the kids are in school. That’s why the growler thing is a good idea. People can support craft breweries without putting the smaller liquor store owner at a competitive disadvantage, which I believe they would be if they opened up Sunday liquor laws. One other thing — why not just expand liquor store hours on a Mon-Sat basis?

        • Joe

          I mean, if we’re talking about competitive disadvantages, we have to consider towns like Duluth, where Sen. Reinert and I are both from, and Stillwater that lose money weekly to people crossing the state line on Sundays for their liquor. Expanding hours on the existiting days does nothing for that. In fact, I don’t think that would solve anything at all.

          • You gotta get real in your logic here. There will always be a few exceptions. Duluth, Stillwater, Red Wing, wherever there’s a bridge, OK? How many towns is that? You can’t base an entire line of reasoning on a few outliers. The competitive disadvantage thing is real and it affects the ones we rely on for our favorite beverages. Part of being an adult is saying, hey, I get it that people need a day off here, I don’t need everything I want, whenever I want it. That kind of attitude, which is a lot of what I’m seeing on this board, makes me really regret that the legal drinking age isn’t higher.

          • Chris Moewes

            Again, if your justification is to get people to have a day off, then would you support universal Sunday closure? If some people should be protected to have the day off, then why shouldn’t all people?

    • Max

      That’s a really weak argument and I sincerely doubt that liquor store owners are making. A business chooses to open when it makes the most economical sense to do so. If you can’t make money by being open then you shouldn’t be in business.

    • Chris Moewes

      Other than employee compensation, the liquor store owners still have all the same costs whether they are open for 6 or 7 days. Insurance, electricity, utilities are not pro-rated by those suppliers.

      And again, they are trying to have the argument both ways. If there isn’t any business to be had on Sundays, then why would either shop owner choose to be open? The fact that you make the argument that they need to protect their business by being open means that there is a demand.

      And if they are really on that cutting line of breaking even, then they can look at options. Trim off 30 minutes from each of the other 6 days and be open for 3 hours on Sunday.

  • Lisa

    I think it’s wonderful! It’s the perfect step in the right direction for having liquor sales on Sunday, especially if they sell it in grocery stores! Let’s keep MN money in MN & stop driving to WI for our Sunday 6-paks.

  • echoegami

    Who are the holdouts in the commerce committee and how do we get a hold of them? Obviously, the public holds a different opinion and they should hear from us.

    That being said, if this compromise is a way forward then of course I support it as long as it is only a stop along the way to full Sunday sales. The argument that small business owners want a day off is bullshit because those same small business owners are the ones I’m hearing saying that want to be able to be open and sell to their customers.

  • steve

    Yes, why not? Lift the whole Sunday ban.

  • Andrew Hine

    This reminds me of the Chicken Littles who somehow “knew” the smoking ban would close dozens of bars. Never happened.

    And how they “know” I will end up at a big box store is insulting. Banning sales of Anheuser-Busch and Corona would do more good for locals than Sunday sales would harm them.

    AMH
    Metro IBA

  • beerenauslese

    The Sunday ban is just the government not respecting the separation of church and state. Get rid of the ban. Get religion out of government!