Rep. Kahn pushes for Sunday liquor sales

Minnesota is currently one of 15 states that does not allow liquor to be sold on Sundays.

Ahnalese Rushmann

Even though Dinkytown Wine & Spirits isn’t open on Sundays, owner Irv Hershkovitz said his customers don’t always remember that.

“My door is pulled on constantly,” he said. “We have so many students from Wisconsin that just automatically, when they come to school here, think that we’re open on a Sunday.”

A bill introduced last month by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, aims to keep liquor store doors open more often by legalizing Sunday sales.

Minnesota is one of 15 states that ban Sunday liquor sales, according to the Alcohol Policy Information System.

The bill, along with another to authorize Sunday automobile sales, is about “getting the government out of controlling things that get done on Sunday,” Kahn said.

The bill won’t be passed this session because of budget priorities, but it’s already sparked insightful debate, she said.

Some students favor the bill, but Kahn said some liquor store owners have said being open on Sundays wouldn’t increase overall sales.

She said some owners said there wouldn’t be enough business to justify staffing the store all day. Others have said they would have to stay open just to compete with larger stores, like those attached to supermarkets.

Surdyk’s general manager Steve Wilk said while Saturdays are busy, Sundays probably wouldn’t pay off.

“We wouldn’t get that much traffic and it would probably be one of the slowest days of our week,” he said of the liquor and cheese shop. “We just wouldn’t see the long-term benefit of it.”

Hershkovitz said he didn’t think it would have much of a negative impact on his store.

“I think we’d do enough business that that wouldn’t be an issue,” he said.

Bars would possibly be hurt by the bill, Hershkovitz said. With Vikings games, customers usually plan ahead and stock up before Sunday.

“But the people who forgot go to a bar,” he said.

If the bill passes, it would eliminate a ritual among some University students: Sunday booze runs to Wisconsin.

“Here, the students will drive to Hudson on a Sunday,” Hershkovitz said.

Drew Gustafson, a third-year physics graduate student, said he’s glad state alcohol sales have some limitations.

While he doesn’t favor business restrictions, Gustafson said he’s averse to expanding liquor sales hours because it adds to general safety hazards.

Courtney Mathei, a communications studies senior, said she’s been at Sunday gatherings where a bottle of wine would have been nice.

“You don’t always want to go out on Sunday, but sometimes you want to drink with friends,” she said.

Mathei, an Eden Prairie native, said she attended Arizona State University for two years before coming to the University.

She said liquor stores were open until 2 a.m. in Arizona, a state that doesn’t ban Sunday sales. Students would drive drunk to the liquor stores after being out at the bars, Mathei said.

“That is pushing it too far,” she said.

There wouldn’t be harm in legalizing Sunday liquor sales, Mathei said, but politicians should keep negative consequences in mind as they continue to discuss the issue.

Hershkovitz said the debate reminded him of 2006, when some places were opposed to the expansion of liquor store hours until 10 p.m.

“A lot of stores chose not to,” he said. “We did right away and it definitely paid for itself to stay open until 10.”

Kahn is no stranger to liquor legislation. She and Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, supported extending bar close until 2 a.m.

Columnists and talk shows trashed them for it, Kahn said, but it eventually passed with relative ease.

Although the bill’s success in this session looks bleak, she said she’ll try again next session, which starts in January.