Poll finds Minnesotans want Sunday liquor sales

Legislators expect to reintroduce a bill that would allow liquor sales on Sundays.

Poll finds Minnesotans want Sunday liquor sales

Brian Arola

It was kick-off Sunday a few years ago, and Scott Huculak and his friends wanted some beer with their football.

But as Minnesota liquor stores are closed on Sundays, they needed to make the haul to Hudson, Wis., to get it.

“It was just a matter of a group of guys wanting to hang out, watch the opening weekend of football and have a couple beers,” Huculak said.

Huculak, a recent University of Minnesota graduate, said he repeated the journey with his friends a couple times per semester while at the University.

But this border crossing isn’t unusual for Minnesota residents on Sundays.

Tyrrell Gaffer, owner of Casanova’s Liquor Store in Hudson, said a majority of his Sunday sales are from Minnesotans.

An opinion poll offered by the Minnesota House of Representatives at the State Fair this year showed 63 percent of people want liquor stores open on Sundays.

Minnesota is one of only 12 states to ban Sunday liquor sales, and legislators continually put forward bills to change that.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, who called her voting record “the wettest” among her peers, has proposed bills to amend the law in the past. She said she plans to do so again if re-elected in November.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Kahn said. “Every state around us and both provinces, I believe, have Sunday liquor.”

There are various reasons to change the law, Kahn said.

“We have an economic [disadvantage] by keeping it closed, plus a lack of convenience to the consumer,” she said. “Those combined together I think are powerful reasons for keeping it open.”

Some liquor store owners say they don’t want to be open another day, but Kahn said this isn’t a reason to keep the old law.

 “It’s hard for me to understand the argument that [they] don’t want to have to work another day,” Kahn said. “If you don’t want to, just don’t be open.”

Irv Hershkovitz, owner of Dinkytown Wine & Spirits, is among the liquor-store owners who are in favor of opening their doors Sundays.

“It’s an old, old law [saying] you should be with your families on Sundays. Well, the families are all watching football now,” he said. “That’s what the families do nowadays on Sundays so if the families want to get a case of beer, they should be able to get it.”

Gaffer said he’s aware of Minnesota legislators’ efforts to change the law. He acknowledged the effect it could have on Hudson businesses.

“It would change things. We know it would change [Sundays] for sure,” Gaffer said.

Hershkovitz said he would favor a law allowing stores to be open until about 6 p.m. on Sundays, which is similar to laws in Connecticut.

Connecticut was the latest state to repeal Sunday liquor bans in May, with the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis estimating a $5.2 million per year increase in revenue.

Since 2002, 16 states have changed their laws to allow the sale of liquor on Sundays, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

The House polled more than 9,000 people at the State Fair. About 30 percent were against changing the Sunday liquor bans.