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Sunday liquor?

Swinging in to a local liquor store to buy a "sixer" on a Sunday could be an option.

A bill has been drafted to eliminate the state's ban on off-sale liquor sales on Sundays.

Buzz about the bill has rippled out into Greater Minnesota, and while it may be appealing to some consumers, local liquor store managers are opposed to the Sunday sale proposal.

"I think it would take away from Saturday and Monday sales, and I really don't think we'll gain anything," said Carol Lanigan, manager of Alexandria's two municipals, Plaza Liquor and Downtown Liquor.

Opening the stores on Sundays would cost the stores more than it would be worth, according to Lanigan.

"We'd have to hire extra help and we already have a hard enough time getting people to work on a Saturday, much less a Sunday, too," she said.

Plus, Lanigan said, an extra day of business means additional operating costs - costs she believes won't be covered by Sunday sales totals.

Alexandria's municipal liquor stores employ 11 people and bring in about $400,000 to the city of Alexandria, according to Lanigan.

Jeff Thompson has managed Payless Liquor for 26 years and he said, "I'm not in favor of it. It really wouldn't increase business. It would just spread Friday and Saturday sales over into Sunday sales. Plus, it would be more added expense with employees."

Lanigan said she does understand Sunday liquor sales might be a boost for stores along the state's borders, where consumers zip over to Wisconsin, Iowa or the Dakotas to buy liquor on Sundays.

"All in all, I don't think it would be worth it," she said.

Lanigan also expressed her suspicions that the Sunday off-sale proposal may be the gateway to wine being sold in grocery stores.

"If that happens, municipals are done for," she said. "Those big chain stores can buy in bulk and we couldn't compete with their prices." She also expressed concern about chain store's younger employees' reliability to check IDs to see if a customer is old enough to buy alcohol.

Over in Osakis, Julie Blair, manager of Osakis municipal Liquor Store, said, "I don't think the profits will exceed the expenditures. In a bigger community maybe it will work, but not here, especially in the winter."

When asked for his thoughts on the Sunday sales proposal, State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, told the Echo Press he doesn't support the proposal: "I think we should take a day off from purchasing alcohol in our state. Some say look at the large revenue source we could have - I'm not convinced we should do it at this time."

The law banning off-sale liquor sales in Minnesota has been on the books since the late 1800s.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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