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Liquor sales double, store may move

The people of the Detroit Lakes area have benefited from the success of the municipal liquor store, Lakes Liquors, in a variety of ways: From the donations the city gives from its liquor fund and the projects done with money from the liquor fund.

Now, the store is working on a project of its own.

The city sent out a request for proposals to find a consultant to study the feasibility of building a new liquor store in Detroit Lakes.

Last week at the regular council monthly meeting, the aldermen voted to accept McComb Group, Ltd. to evaluate the need and location of a new liquor store.

The McComb Group plans to have the report back to the city in six weeks, or about the end of March.

"My guess is the ad hoc committee would review it and then the full council in April or May would probably take a look at it," said Alderman Jim Anderson, who is a member of the ad hoc committee.

Although the study will be done by the end of March, Anderson said he doesn't want to say this is necessarily going to be a 2010 building project.

"Given the funding sources and things like that, their report may come back and say we should just remodel the one we've got," he said. "I'm really keeping an open mind about what comes out of this study."

The consultants will be looking at traffic patterns, impact on redevelopment and the cost. They are looking at the pros and cons of every possible site, City Administrator Bob Louiseau told the council Tuesday evening.

Two other companies -- Springsted and Dakota WorldWide -- also submitted proposals.

At this point, the committee doesn't have a cost estimate on a new building.

"I've been of the philosophy that you have to spend money to make money, so if we're going to do something like that, I'd hate to undo it and restrict the revenue on that," Anderson said.

In McComb's submitted work program, the group plans to evaluate the existing Lakes Liquors store and location, identify competitive liquor stores, conduct customer spotting to define existing trade areas, delineate trade area for the existing Lakes Liquors, evaluate two other liquor store sites identified by the city, estimate future sales potential of the existing Lakes Liquors and estimate future sales potential of the other two sites.

Besides the existing location on Highway 10 and Roosevelt Avenue, the other two proposed sites are in the new crescent area and west of town on Highway 10.

McComb said they will study the size, merchandise, overall appearance, access, ingress and egress, parking, visibility, traffic counts, site configuration and size and relationship to adjacent land use and traffic generators to give the company's opinion of the best location.

The McComb Group has worked on several other municipal liquor stores including Wayzata, Eden Prairie, Maple Lake and Fridley and other non-municipal liquor stores in cities including Rochester, Crystal, St. Louis Park and Chanhassen.

According to the proposal submitted, McComb costs will be about $8,900.

"We're looking forward to getting the McComb Group in here and getting going on the study," Anderson said.

Liquor sales

Liquor sales at Lakes Liquors continue to grow, and the numbers prove it.

In 1999, the sales were $2.5 million. In 2009, the number swelled to $5.1 million.

"Liquor sales have doubled since 1999, and I don't think there too many businesses that can say that," Alderman GL Tucker said.

Over the last 10 years, sales have steadily grown without taking a decrease. And unlike most businesses, the percentage of personnel costs to sales has actually decreased over the same time period.

While the personnel costs have increased from $194,268 in 1999 to $223,832 in 2009 -- a difference of $29,564 -- the percentage compared to sales has decreased from 7.76 percent in 1999 to 4.38 percent in 2009.