a wisconsin pilgrimage [soapbox sunday]
On Sunday I traveled to Wisconsin to meet up with some other ladies of Bitches Brew Crew to visit a new restaurant, taste beers that aren’t available in Minnesota, and to fill up some growlers.
For my non-Minnesota readers, beer, wine and liquor sales are not allowed on Sundays within the state of Minnesota. Wisconsin, however, which is about 30-40 minutes from the heart of the Twin Cities, is a completely different story with liquor stores open as with any other day. As a result, many people from the east metro and beyond claim that they have traveled to Wisconsin on a Sunday for liquor.
This trip wasn’t specifically due to the lack of beer sales in Minnesota, but make no mistake, we did take advantage of the fact that we were able to buy beer and it did open up my mind to the issue a bit more.
After lunch at Stone Tap, we took a group field trip to Casanova Liquor, just one liquor store that claims the majority of its sales on Sunday are from Minnesotans.
There are several major players in the opposition to Sunday Sales: MN Municipal Beverage Association, MN Licensed Beverage Association, and MN Beer Wholesalers Association. These groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against Sunday Sales.
Why? It’s no longer as much about outdated Blue Laws or our Puritan heritage as you might think.
Some oppose Sunday sales because they claim stores would lose revenue, others want to preserve their one day off per week. Another argument is that if the Sunday Sales legislation is passed, wine would become available in grocery stores. It seems that none of these arguments is a very strong one, and there is little research to back much of it up. If the laws change, liquor stores would not be required to be open on Sunday. At the same time, studies show that Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week, and consumers spend 21% more when they shop on a Sunday.
Some states such as Colorado have documented increased revenue due to lifting the ban on Sunday Sales. And most studies disprove the theory that traffic fatalities would increase if Sunday sales are allowed.
Yes, some of the argument against Sunday sales does indeed stem from religious or historical reasons. Take it from me, though, as a church-going Christian: NFL games on Sunday or cabin ownership in the summer draw far more people away from a church service than buying beer ever could, and those activities have not been banned. Other states such as Texas and South Carolina, who are also fighting to lift their ban, seem to have a bigger conservative component in their opposition to Sunday sales than Minnesota does.
Until Sunday sales are legalized in the legislature, I will occasionally be one of those people who goes to Wisconsin for beer. It doesn’t happen purely because I need to buy beer on a Sunday – I have a pseudo-apocalyptic stock of beer at any given moment and I also homebrew in 5-gallon batches. But I do travel to Wisconsin for beer purely for their selection – as stated above, several Wisconsin breweries do not distribute to Minnesota. So when I’m craving a New Glarus Fat Squirrel, I go to Hudson on a Sunday!
So, back to Casanova Liquor. This time I remembered to bring a growler. In Wisconsin, liquor stores can sell growlers, they can fill any growler with any beer, and any tap from the restaurant side of Casanova is available in a growler (none of those statements are true in Minnesota).
I was walking through the small parking lot to the door, excited about beer, and a guy said to me, “you look like you’re going Christmas shopping!”. “I feel like I am”, I said, “I’m from Minnesota”. They both laughed and nodded in a knowing sort of way.
After much deliberation, my growler was filled with Milwaukee Brewing’s Polish Moon Milk Stout. I also filled a six pack with brews I’ve never tried, with help from a super handy laminated list of “Beers not available in MN”.
With arguments on both sides that have made Sunday sales a gridlocked perennial issue in the Minnesota state legislature, state representatives are forgetting what really counts – public opinion. According to several polls, Minnesotans are overwhelmingly in favor of Sunday sales, something you surely already know if you’ve ever followed #MNbeer on Twitter on a Sunday.
Sources: MinnPost, Minnesota Beer Activists, MN Daily as shown in links above