Milk policy is stupid, anti-small business

Hanana Foods in Dinkytown is not supposed to sell milk because Minneapolis thinks the sale of dairy products will lead to crime. In an effort to stop loitering and root out drug dealing at small stores the city in 1996 decided businesses under 2,000 square feet couldn’t sell dairy products. This includes milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt.

Somehow Minneapolis thought this regulation would curb criminal activity. Instead, the city is essentially putting the squeeze

on new neighborhood grocery stores, giving owners and customers the shaft rather than would-be criminals.

Not only does the no-milk regulation not make sense – outlawing the sale of tobacco or snack foods, although not right, might be a more practical way to stop criminal loiterers – and inconvenience customers, it is wrong and discriminatory. The city is using the “regulation” as a way of unethically, and perhaps illegally, stomping out small businesses.

After all, what is a convenience store without milk, asks Hanana Foods manager Jessy Smithgosen. One of the most common reasons customers even go to a local store, rather than Rainbow or Cub Foods, is that they need milk. While they are at the corner store, they will pick up other items. Without milk, it will be difficult for a food store to succeed.

Students would be hard-pressed to find dairy products anywhere near campus if the city had not grandfathered in older stores. House of Hanson and Harvard Market (West) are both under 2,000 square feet. Although it is great they were grandfathered in, it gives them an unfair competitive edge over any new store hoping to break into the market.

The “no dairy products” regulation exists in a city that local business owners say reeks of an anti-small business atmosphere. It is already hard enough for small stores to compete against bigger businesses; the city shouldn’t make it harder. If Minneapolis continues this behavior, before we know it, people will have to drive longer distances to mega-stores to buy anything.