Bloomington approves Sunday liquor sales

If there was any doubt, the Bloomington City Council has removed it.

Years of debate at the state Legislature came to an end this year with the approval of Sunday liquor sales at Minnesota’s off-sale liquor retailers. Beginning July 2, liquor stores will have the ability to open their doors on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. and sell beer, wine and spirits until 6 p.m.

The state’s approval, however, didn’t necessarily guarantee that liquor stores in Bloomington would be open on Sundays starting next month, even if their owners wanted to be open.

The state’s approval of Sunday liquor sales gives cities the option to allow Sunday retail sales, but does not require them to do so. In the past, cities have been allowed to be more stringent in limiting the hours that liquor retailers may be open, but they weren’t allowed to be more stringent regarding the days retailers could do business, according to Doug Junker, the city’s license examiner.

With the state’s approval of Sunday liquor sales, however, the amendment allows cities to control which days liquor stores may do business. Essentially, the Bloomington City Council has final say in whether or not the city’s liquor stores will be allowed to do business on Sundays.

There wasn’t much question amongst council members as to whether or not to permit Sunday sales.

Off-sale liquor license holders were sent correspondence and invited to an administrative hearing on the matter, but nobody showed up, according to Junker. He spoke with several license holders, however, and all indicated that they intended to open on Sundays, although one liquor store owner indicated he wasn’t happy about doing business on Sundays, Junker noted.

The council’s decision didn’t come until its June 5 meeting, but liquor store owners were eager to know its decision months ago – even before the state had ratified Sunday liquor sales – as they were planning their summer promotions and advertisments and needed to know if they’d be allowed to open on Sundays, Junker explained.

The council held a public hearing prior to its approval of Sunday sales, and nobody spoke for or against it. The council did receive one letter in support of Sunday sales from the owner of vomFOSS Liqueurs, a specialty store inside Mall of America. Owner Tamra Kramer noted that she had testified to state House and Senate committees for the past three years in favor of allowing Sunday sales, and outlined a variety of reasons in her support of the move.

With no opposition, and no deliberation by council members, the council voted 6-1 in favor of Sunday sales, with Councilmember Dwayne Lowman voting against it.