Stores unsure about impact of Minnesota’s new liquor law

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NELSON, Wis. — Retailers on both sides of the Wisconsin-Minnesota border are on the fence about how Minnesota’s new Sunday liquor sales law will affect businesses.

The law taking effect this weekend allows packaged liquor in Minnesota to be sold from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Liquor sales on Sundays were previously banned in the state.

Some residents near the border have been purchasing liquor in Wisconsin on Sundays.

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Mandy Davis, manager of Nelson Discount Liquor in Wisconsin, doesn’t expect any big changes.

“Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to mean too much for us here because we’re so close to the Minnesota border and customers from Minnesota come in here Monday through Saturday now,” she said. “I just don’t see it having a big impact on our Sunday sales. I could be wrong.”

Some Minnesota store owners say they’re concerned that customers are used to going to Wisconsin to buy liquor and that the new law won’t generate enough business to cover the costs of staying open.

“There definitely will be more expense to be open, and I hope the sales will be enough to justify having employees here,” said Rich Jacobson, owner of Jake’s Discount Liquors & Wine in Hastings. “You wonder if it’s simply going to spread out the same amount of drinking over seven days instead of six.”

Another concern is the sales tax difference. Minnesota has a 9.7 percent alcohol tax while Wisconsin has a 5.5 percent tax.

“It’s a little cheaper in Nelson, and I’m used to going over there on Sundays if I need something,” said Andy Bartholomew of Wabasha. “Sure, if I run out and need something quick, it’s nice to have it available here.”