A multi-car trek from St. Paul to Hudson was more than just another Sunday afternoon beer run to Wisconsin.
About 30 vehicles made the 19-mile trek from the State Capitol to liquor stores in Hudson in support of legalizing Sunday alcohol sales in Minnesota.
“This is a symbol,” said Andrew Schmitt, director of Minnesota Beer Activists. “This is just a small representation of money that’s leaving our state every Sunday.”
At a parking lot in front of the Capitol, local business owners and state leaders spoke to the small group of beer and liquor activists before the crowd headed for the border.
Among those who spoke were Sens. David Osmek, R-Mound, Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, and Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth.
“I am tired of sending our tax revenue and our commerce every Sunday to Wisconsin,” Osmek said. “It’s wrong, and it needs to change.”
Minnesota, one of a dozen states that prohibit Sunday liquor sales, is surrounded by Sunday sales states.
A push to repeal the 80-year-old “blue law” has been ongoing. Earlier this month, a Minnesota House Committee discussed liquor law reform. Many Sunday sales measures have been drafted this session, including the growler bill that Anderson co-authored.
In Hudson, Minnesota vehicles sporting white-and-green car flags saying “Thank you Minnesota! See you next Sunday!” were parked outside Casanova Liquor Store and Spirit Seller Liquors.
Schmitt, who bought a six-pack of Wisconsin’s New Glarus beer from Spirit Seller, said it’s inconvenient to drive to Wisconsin for alcohol.
“We crossed the border to spend money where it’s welcomed,” he said.
Tamra Kramer, who owns the store Vom Fass at the Mall of America, walked out of Casanova liquor with a bottle of whiskey and gluten-free beer. Kramer estimates she loses about $50,000 to $100,000 a year by not being able to sell liquor on Sundays.
“It’s a lot of money for a small-business owner like myself,” Kramer said.
She added that small steps, “like adding growler sales on Sundays,” are not enough. She wants to see full repeal, now.
Jason Alvey, founder and owner of the Four Firkins in St. Louis Park, said a customer spent about $300 at a Hudson liquor store because Four Firkins was closed. Hudson got all his beer money for the month, Alvey said. “That’s just one guy, and I suggest that happens all the time,” he added.
Tyrrell Gaffer, owner of Casanova Liquor, said he estimates losing about 15 to 20 percent of his overall business if Minnesota repeals Sunday liquor laws.
Gaffer sells plenty of beer and spirits to residents living in the Twin Cities who trek eastward on Sundays. “It’s an odd law for sure,” he said.
Joe Butler, manager of Good Times Liquors in Norwood Young America in Carver County, released a statement through SMART Campaign, which supports the state’s current alcohol laws and regulations.
“The activists here today are working against the hundreds of small local businesses in Minnesota to deregulate our current smart and balanced alcohol regulations. We hope these activists will shop at local Minnesota stores in the future. It’s sad they are promoting Wisconsin businesses for political promotion at our expense,” Butler’s statement said.
Sunday’s event is a demonstration of what happens every Sunday, Alvey said. “People don’t always see how much money is going to Wisconsin.”