With state ban repealed, Wayzata officials consider Sunday liquor sales

Beginning in July, Wayzata’s municipal liquor store will be open on Sundays

Beginning in July, customers will be able to shop on Sundays at Wayzata’s municipal liquor store. Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill March 7 ending the 159-year-old ban and making Minnesota the 39th state to allow Sunday off-sale liquor sales. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
Beginning in July, customers will be able to shop on Sundays at Wayzata’s municipal liquor store. Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill March 7 ending the 159-year-old ban and making Minnesota the 39th state to allow Sunday off-sale liquor sales. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)

Come July, customers of Wayzata’s municipal liquor store will be able to do something that has never been allowed under state law: Shop on a Sunday.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill March 7 ending the 159-year-old ban and making Minnesota the 39th state to allow Sunday off-sale liquor sales, an issue that’s been debated at the state Legislature for years.

With all four states bordering Minnesota allowing Sunday sales, proponents of the ban’s repeal have argued that the state is losing potential sales tax dollars to neighboring states.

Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-District 33A, who has introduced previous bills to repeal the ban, has long said that business owners should be able to make the decision whether or not to operate on Sundays.

Supporters of the ban, including industry groups like the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association, contend that while some municipal liquor stores would benefit from lifting the ban, the majority of stores would eventually see a negative impact and the extra day would only add to expenses of employee costs and would likely have a negative impact on profit margins.

Some liquor store owners say the new law will simply spread six days of sales across seven days, while other owners see the extra day as potential for profit.

Beginning in July, customers will be able to shop on Sundays at Wayzata’s municipal liquor store. Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill March 7 ending the 159-year-old ban and making Minnesota the 39th state to allow Sunday off-sale liquor sales. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
Beginning in July, customers will be able to shop on Sundays at Wayzata’s municipal liquor store. Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill March 7 ending the 159-year-old ban and making Minnesota the 39th state to allow Sunday off-sale liquor sales. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)

In Wayzata, where the city’s sole liquor store is the municipally-owned Wayzata Wine & Spirits, city officials expect a minimal impact on overall sales.

“We expect that sales would go up a little bit, and our personnel costs in terms of expenses would go up a little bit,” said Wayzata City Manager Jeffrey Dahl. “There’s probably not going to be much of a difference in overall net profit.”

Dahl said a key reason for the liquor store being open on Sundays is because the city might lose business if customers shop elsewhere and end up changing their shopping patterns.

“This is more defensive than offensive,” Mayor Ken Willcox concluded.

While city staff members determined that no ordinance amendments were needed for the liquor store to operate the extra day, the policy question was on the agenda at their March 21 regular council meeting.

To help explain city staff member’s reasoning to the council, a list of pros and cons were laid out in a report prepared by Dahl and Wayzata Wine & Spirits Store Manager Kevin Castellano.

The pros:

• The fact that the building is already “on and running” every Sunday with Wayzata Bar & Grill open next door.

• Added convenience for customers.

• The potential for a slight sales increase based on weekend lake traffic and holiday shopping.

• Customers brought in through existing foot traffic entering into Wayzata Bar & Grill.

• A low risk in implementing the change since customer traffic and sales will dictate the need to be open or not, allowing the fine-tuning of operating hours and assessing the other six days of the week.

The cons:

• Added labor expense of approximately $12,000 annually, even though Sunday would be a minimally staffed day requiring only two employees.

• Having Sunday as a “day of rest” for employees.

The liquor store has had increasing sales during the past several years. According to the city, gross sales in 2016 were $2.91 million, a net increase of 9.6 percent over the previous year. In 2015, the city had liquor store sales of $2.63 million, a 6.9 percent increase over the previous year’s sales of $2.45 million.

Preliminary net profits last year for the liquor store and the bar and grill were $448,000, all of which helps fund various capital improvement projects.

Castellano said his preliminary plan is to open the store 11 a.m.-5 p.m., while being flexible on adjusting the closing time to 6 p.m., which is the latest a liquor store can be open under the new state law. The store manager said he also expects the store will be open on Sundays year-round.

Castellano said the store’s delivery service to customers – while allowed to operate on Sundays under the new law – likely wouldn’t begin in July due to staffing constraints.

“If we’re really busy, we can adjust from there,” Castellano said.

Fielding a question from Councilmember Johanna McCarthy on whether he had talked to staff about potentially having to work on Sundays, Castellano said some staff members had been surprisingly positive.

“Some people would like to always work a Sunday and not as many Saturdays, or always work a Saturday and then not a Sunday – so it’s been pretty easy,” he said.

Councilmember Alex Plechash and Willcox said that while they didn’t support the new state law overall, they agreed that opening the municipal liquor on Sundays was the best way to remain competitive with area liquor stores.

“If I were in the state Legislature, I would have voted against it. But considering that they passed it statewide and considering everything I’ve read and head here today, I think we have to do this,” Plechash said.

“I concur,” Willcox said. “And I think that’s the source of the reluctance up here, but reality is reality.”

Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]