For some shoppers in liquor store aisles Tuesday, it was a moment to toast the end of the ban on Sunday retail alcohol sales.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill Tuesday that ends the ban this summer. If they choose to do so, liquor stores will open for the first time in Minnesota state history on Sunday, July 2.
“This new law reflects the desires of most people in Minnesota, who have made it clear to their legislators that they want to have this additional option,” Dayton said in a statement.
The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature last week with bipartisan support.
“This is a good thing,” said Amanda Dybedahl of Minneapolis as she shopped for beer and wine at Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop. With the ban in place, Dybedahl said those who like to drink alcohol while watching Sunday sports either have to plan ahead to buy their booze, head to a bar or travel to Wisconsin, where Sunday sales are legal.
“I’m terrible at planning ahead,” she said. Being able to buy liquor on Sunday in Minnesota likely will mean she’ll limit most of her Wisconsin liquor store trips to those days she craves the Wisconsin brew Spotted Cow.
The Sunday ban “is a silly thing,” said Sue Krivit of St. Paul. “It’s past its time.” For years, she said, it meant having to make do with 3.2 beer because the lower-alcohol beer was the only thing available if a Sunday party popped up. “Or, you would drink what was left over from Saturday,” she said.
Standing nearby, holding a bottle of Portuguese wine, Kate McNulty, 66, of St. Paul, said she’s no longer of the age where she’s feels “compelled” to buy liquor on Sunday. But, she added, it will be nice that she can.
“You want to get what you need when you need it,” she said, laughing.
The new law allows liquor retailers to be open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, cities may pass an ordinance to keep liquor stores closed on Sundays.
“Just in time for Independence Day, Minnesotans will have the freedom to buy beer and wine on Sunday,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, in a statement released Tuesday. Daudt — along with chief author Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie — was a crucial player in the rapid reversal from recent years when efforts to legalize Sunday liquor sales failed to launch. Metro-area DFLers were also instrumental in flipping the issue.
Winning on Sunday sales gives Daudt a buzzy issue going into a potential 2018 run for governor.
The yearslong effort to undo the Sunday ban faced opposition from some store owners, beer distributors and the Teamsters union, but it got new momentum this year from new lawmakers responding to overwhelming public support.
Some consumers are hoping this will lead the way to allowing alcohol sales in grocery stores. “I’m good with being able to buy liquor on Sundays, but I’m more interested in having it in grocery stores,” said Sedna Cedarstone of Minneapolis. “It would be convenient.”
With liquor in hand at Surdyk’s, a few customers like Kelly Lutgen of Minneapolis expressed concern that the law might hurt smaller businesses that will now feel pressured to be open seven days a week to compete with big-box liquor stores like Total Wine & More.
“It will be a race to the bottom,” said Derek Schluender, a self-described liberal who opposed dropping the Sunday ban because of the impact it might have on workers and stores “thrust into hyper competition.”
Once the ban is lifted, he admits he likely will be in liquor stores on some Sundays. “I’m not going to take a moral stand here.”
Others may find it hard to break from tradition and still will buy their liquor by Saturday. “I’ve grown up knowing I can’t buy on Sunday so I always planned accordingly,” Jake Kirchgessner of Minneapolis said as he stood in the checkout line with bottles of wine and beer.
Likewise, as Emily Beltt of Minneapolis sampled wine with her sister, Lindsey Beltt, she said, “I guess I live like an adult and I always have enough booze for the weekend.”
As an employee at another liquor store — Cork Dork — Emily Beltt isn’t thrilled that she might have to work on Sundays. As a consumer, she understands the appeal, although she debated the merits of the law as she and her sister swirled the red wine in their glasses.
Not being allowed to buy liquor on Sunday feels like Minnesota is being “paternalistic,” Lindsey Beltt argued. She lived in Wisconsin for a time and pointed out that Sunday liquor sales were not “doomsday” for small businesses.
“This will fit better in my life,” she said.