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Mixed feelings over Sunday liquor sales

Since 1933, Minnesotans have been forbidden to buy booze on Sundays out of respect for the "day of rest."

This could be changing though, as a state Senate committee passed legislation, introduced by state Sen. Roger Reinert of Duluth, that would allow liquor stores to not only be open on Sundays, but holidays as well.

The goal is to keep business in Minnesota and out of North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Minnesota legislators have shot down the idea several times in the past, and some local liquor store employees are hoping that happens again.

"It's a terrible idea," said Aaron Aslesen, co-owner of Lakes Area Liquor, who thinks Sunday business would be bleak.

"It wouldn't be worth it to have to pay somebody to be here."

Although each establishment would have the option to be open, Aslesen says they'd feel obligated to keep up with the competition.

In this case, their big competition is Lakes Liquors in Detroit Lakes, and the fact that it is a municipal liquor store makes Aslesen's concerns legitimate if the legislation passes.

"With Detroit Lakes being a tourist town, I would think there would be some strong consideration to stay open on Sundays, especially during the summertime," said Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk.

Brenk says the city council would have to take a look at cost versus money to be made on Sundays, but with the liquor store moving to a new location, that makes the idea more enticing.

"If it's in a more prominent location with higher visibility, that could certainly impact Sunday sales because you've got people going right by, and maybe a lot more people stopping in," said Brenk.

Brenk says there could be extra revenue to be made from the change, and that money could then be used to do "a number of things around the city."

The manager of Lakes Liquors, Brad MacMaster, says he can't tell if it's something customers really want, but has a feeling there won't be that much more money to be made from the extra day.

"People are used to getting what they need on Saturdays, so will people really buy more or will we just be stretching six days worth of business into seven days and then increasing our expenses on that seventh day?"

Brenk says while Minnesotans may have that buying habit, North Dakotans visiting the area don't, and the city of Detroit Lakes could possibly benefit from that.

"And who knows, maybe if it happens, it might be something we could just try out for a while to see if it has an impact on sales, and then go from there," said Brenk.

The bill now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.