Don't worry - you'll still be able to get your beer, wine and spirits!

I suppose quite a few people were surprised to hear that the city had decided to close their liquor store. I mean, it’s been there (or somewhere) forever, right?

Well, not really, and I can’t remember exactly what I heard at the city council meeting in March. Something about Minnesota cities deciding, in droves, to get into the off-sale liquor business, maybe in the 1960s. I tried to find the history of the state statute allowing cities to establish municipal liquor stores, and that time frame may be right. I did read that it was done as a way for municipalities to control liquor sales.

Well, over the years, the profitability of municipal liquor stores has been up and down. A sign of the times with tougher drunk driving laws? High labor expenses for government owned stores? I’m not sure, but the state puts out a report on the profit or loss of municipal liquor stores each year, and many small town stores just don’t make enough money. Sleepy Eye’s is one of those, in fact it has lost money for two consecutive years.

I got the impression that closing the store has been a topic of discussion for some time. Mark Kober said the city has been approached a few times about selling the business to private businesses. The liquor committee took a hard look at the issue and decided the time had come to get out of the business and do it as soon as possible. Why keep losing the citizen’s money?

The way the laws work, the city isn’t actually selling the business. They are closing their store and issuing an off-sale liquor license so a new store can open in Sleepy Eye. The only thing the city is selling is the inventory of the store when it closes.

There are a few little details to work out, but soon we’ll know when all this will occur. The owner of the proposed new store already owns one in Watertown and is familiar with the regulations and good business practices for running a successful liquor store in a small town.

One of the things I really like about this new business in Sleepy Eye is that it will be located in the retail space adjacent to the grocery store. Sounds like a win-win for both businesses, and the location near the hotel also makes it a sweet deal.

While I certainly can’t keep the store in big dollars with my meager consumption, I do wish the Singhs success and thank them for their investment in the Sleepy Eye business community.