Stores sell liquor longer

Aidan M. Anderson

A state law permitting liquor stores to remain open later could save students a trip or two to nearby cities and even across the bridge to Wisconsin if it gains popularity in campus-area shops.

In October 2005, state legislators amended a law to allow liquor stores to extend their closing time from 8 to 10 p.m. during the week.

The Minneapolis City Council also passed an ordinance to allow stores the option to remain open until 10 p.m. during the week, but it is set to expire June 1.

The state statute allows municipalities to have laws stricter than the state’s and govern their own store hours within the outlined times, but not during periods the state prohibits alcohol sales, such as on Sundays and after 10 p.m. during the rest of the week.

Zip’s Liquor on Franklin Avenue extended its weekday hours starting Jan. 16, and now stays open until 10 p.m. from Monday through Saturday. Store manager Jennifer Schoenzeit said the business tallied 44 shoppers during the two extra hours that Monday evening.

“We were all shocked by it,” she said. “We were like no way.”

In an effort to keep up with the competition, Dinkytown Wine and Spirits owner Irv Hershkovitz said this week it was time to “keep up with the Joneses.”

Although his store doesn’t have extended hours through the entire week, he said his decision to keep the business open until 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights ” in addition to Friday and Saturday nights ” is an act of customer service.

“I definitely think we are not going to make any more money, I think it’s all just to make our customers happy,” he said.

Despite the success of some early adopters, the practice has not caught on with all area liquor stores. Weighing the risks of unintentional underage sales as well as additional staffing costs can be deterrent, said Jim Farell, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association.

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association initially took a stand against the extended hours.

“The majority of members in Minneapolis felt that it would incur more costs and more liability,” Farrell said.

That stance cost them at least one member who supported the amendment, he said.

The Liquor Depot on Washington Avenue opted not to stay open later because the business is closing in April. The store will reopen in spring 2007 when the development on Washington Avenue is complete.

“If we were going to keep this store open we probably would’ve shifted our hours,” said store manager Darrin Minehan.

The new Liquor Depot will probably keep later hours when it reopens and has a new neighborhood to support it, Minehan said.

Hershkovitz said he understands student interest in later store hours because of busy schedules.

“Just don’t ever make us stay open on Sundays,” he said, laughing. “And I’m sure there’s a lot out there who would like to see that, too.”