The owner of a popular northeast Minneapolis liquor store apparently thinks he’s above the law. In open defiance of Minnesota’s current Sunday sales ban, Jim Surdyk opened for business on Sunday — several months before it will be legally allowed.
Flouting a new law enacted by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton that legalizes Sunday sales beginning July 2, the longtime businessman wanted to be first and saw no reason to wait to serve customers who happily crowded into his store last weekend. For the violation, the city of Minneapolis ruled Monday that Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop must pay a $2,000 fine and will have its liquor license suspended for 30 days in July.
That’s a well-deserved penalty. Surdyk knew full well that repeal of Minnesota’s 159-year-old Sunday liquor sales ban won’t take effect until July 2. The license suspension means he won’t be able to compete with other liquor stores when they will all have the option to be open on Sundays. Surdyk has said he’ll continue to be open seven days a week until then.
Many laws are approved with delayed effective dates. Lawmakers could let newly passed legislation take effect immediately, but they usually don’t, for good reasons. Those most affected by changes in laws often need time to make adjustments. In this case, the city of Minneapolis also needs to align its own liquor ordinances with new state rules. In addition, if one business is allowed to ignore state rules, what’s to stop others? Laws should be enforced uniformly and fairly.
Surdyk reportedly said he opened illegally, in part, to continue a “family tradition.” His father, he said, was the first business to discount liquor in the 1960s when a then-new law allowed that change. And his dad didn’t wait until midsummer to make the change.
Yet sins of the father ought not be repeated by the son. Being a scofflaw isn’t legacy behavior that would make most families proud. Surdyk should comply with current statutes. If he doesn’t, heavy fines ought to cancel out any profits he might reap for opening illegally.