Local liquor stores to open Sunday, but will more hours lead to increased sales?

Many liquor stores on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix Valley will start opening on Sunday this weekend. (File photo courtesy of Cub Wine and Spirits)

St. Croix Valley residents on the Minnesota side of the river can fill up their Fourth of July coolers this year with liquor purchased in their home state on Sunday, July 2. The Legislature removed previous restrictions on the sale of beer, wine and hard liquor on Sundays earlier this year, and area liquor stores plan to be open.

For store owners, the move to allow Sundays sales could have positive and negative outcomes. Many smaller operations say they will have a difficult time staffing their stores on Sundays and don’t believe the change will bring increased revenue long term.

“Our customers are excited about Sunday sales, but I know they feel bad,” said Ia Ly, owner of Liquor Time in Oak Park Heights. “Sundays are usually my day off.”

Ly said she isn’t sure if customers will come in on Sundays, so she said she is only planning to open her store from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The new state law allows stores to be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are just going to get a feel for it before we add any more hours,” Ly said. “I don’t know what to expect.”

Kathy Schmidt, owner of North Hill Liquor, said she will open her store on Sunday but is not yet sure the number of hours it will be open.

“Most owners use Sunday as their day off,” Schmidt said. “I will be the one coming in on Sunday.”

Schmidt said she is also unsure how many customers will come on Sundays.

“We will see how it goes,” Schmidt said.

While Sundays are open for sales to customers, the law does not allow for deliveries of liquor to stores on Sundays. Ray Sharp, owner of Liberty Village Wine and Spirits, said Sunday liquor sales won’t cause an increase in total weekly sales.

“I can see Sunday being a slower day, and if deliveries were allowed I can see us stocking shelves that day,” Sharp said. “It’s a real stupid move to not allow deliveries. It smacks of union influences in government.”

Sharp said he also sees the restriction on start time affecting future business. Liquor stores are not allowed to open before 11 a.m.

“Most of our customers are going to want to come in to fill a cooler before heading to their boats on the river,” Sharp said. “They are all going to be out of town by the time 11 a.m. hits.”

The Gazette did a survey of the liquor stores in Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, Bayport and Lake Elmo. North Hill Liquor in Stillwater will be open but has not set its permanent hours. Liquor Time in Oak Park Heights will be open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Village Wine and Spirits in Lake Elmo will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All other liquor stores will be open on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]