Hours for liquor stores extended

Minneapolis liquor stores now are open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

by Jim Hammerand

By a vote of 10-3 Friday morning, the Minneapolis City Council extended weekday hours for liquor stores by two hours, to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, nearly a month after the hours were rolled back. The new hours take effect today.

City Council members Diane Hofstede, Paul Ostrow and Elizabeth Glidden voted against the ordinance, saying affected neighborhoods had not had an opportunity to speak about the ordinance.

Hofstede, who represents the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood within Ward 3, asked council members to “delay or vote this down to give neighborhoods the opportunity to weigh in.”

Ostrow, Ward 1, agreed, saying council members should “go the extra miles to listen to these voices” before the vote.

But Ward 9 Council Member Gary Schiff said that while the council delays, tax revenue would be lost and more people might drive while drunk.

“Some consumers are already going the extra mile,” driving beyond city limits to purchase liquor after the store closes, Schiff said.

Extended hours this summer led to “no increase in crime that is even noticeable in statistics,” Schiff said.

Ward 10 Council Member Ralph Remington exhorted the council to pass the measure to keep Minneapolis from becoming a “nanny city.”

“Sometimes laws are archaic,” Remington said. He proposed that neighborhoods voice concerns to liquor store owners.

“They have a choice: they don’t have to stay open until 10,” Remington said.

Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee chairman Don Samuels, Ward 5, said businesses initially opposed to the measure have since changed their minds, and troubled neighborhoods did not have increased crime.

“There is no rational reason to oppose this,” Samuels said.

In October, the council voted to allow liquor stores to stay open until 10 on weeknights. That provision expired June 1, which was news to some liquor store customers.

“So I can’t get any booze?” Kristi Mueller asked as she walked away from the locked doors of Dinkytown Wine and Spirits just a few minutes past 8 Thursday night.

Manager Dan Erickson was on the other side of the door. At exactly 8 according to the Crown Royal clock above the back door, he locked up, allowing those customers already in the store to finish up but preventing anyone else from entering.

In Erickson’s 13 years with Dinkytown Wine and Spirits, he said, he’s seen very desperate people arrive as he’s locking up.

“I’ve had people say, ‘I’ll give you $20,’ but that doesn’t come close to covering the $1,000 fine (for selling after closing),” Erickson said.

After business hours were expanded in October, Erickson said business was better, with many new customers between 8 and 10 p.m.

Ryan Valek, an Augsburg College graduate, said later hours would allow him to make plans and buy liquor accordingly.

“You don’t know what you’re doing until 9 o’clock,” Valek said.

He left his house 10 minutes before 8 p.m., making it into the store just in time.

Shaina Mitchell pulled into the parking lot minutes after Valek, just as the doors were closing. She didn’t make it.

“I guess I’m going to have to start making my own beer now,” the Dinkytown resident said.

Mayor R.T. Rybak signed the ordinance hours after the City Council passed it.