Recently this blog experienced a spike in views. It turned out that an article I had written last year around this time went slightly viral again. It was entitled an Open Letter to Liquor Store Owners, and it addressed my thoughts on the fact that Minnesota is one of only a few states in the country that forces liquor stores to be closed on Sundays. Last year, 2014, we all were hoping that we’d make some progress on the issue, but the only thing we got, was permission for taprooms to be open on Sundays. BUT, they weren’t allowed to sell growlers on Sundays, despite being open. Sounds silly, I know.
This year we’re trying again to make a dent in this archaic and silly system. The latest buzz is that we have a good shot at getting growler sales on Sundays, but that we may once again be left waiting for a full repeal. There’s a shot it might get tossed into an amendment, but honestly, my expectations are low that it will do more than reveal who really is in favor of the law and who isn’t.
Even though I’ve never been a small business owner, I worked for over a decade for a small family business. I know that running a small business is difficult, and every industry has its struggles and pains. But feeling the need to rely on an outdated and silly law to make your business more profitable just doesn’t make sense. When a majority of the customers who use your product would like you to sell them that product on a different day in the week, and you say ‘no’, that does little to endear them to your business.
When I was working for my friends family business we had to play to our market strengths. It was all about customer service, and building a real relationship with the people that bought from us, so that they would tell their friends and they would use our service as well. This type of good will goes a long way to helping build more traffic to a business, and makes people more likely to chose your business over other ones. Sometimes it meant we had to take a hit on profit, but at the end of the day we more than made up for it with more business from satisfied customers.
In the case of liquor stores, they could make a majority of the buying public happy with even a modest opening on Sundays. Most stores could simply open from 11-7 or 10-6, enough to fill a single worker shift, and during that time they’d catch the majority of the people who want to buy from them. Despite being a busy shopping day, most Sundays still end early in anticipation of the work week. I know in my case, the times I’ve wanted to buy liquor on a Sunday was, usually, for spur of the moment lunch or dinner gatherings. I don’t need my liquor store to open at 9am for that, nor do I need them to stay open till 10pm. Just a small, measured change like that would go a long way to making the liquor buying public happy.
I understand the need of business owners to manage their business in a smart way. But small business owners don’t need to rely on legislation. They have a full toolbox of tools at their disposal for managing being open on a Sunday. The beauty of an open system is that everyone can manage it differently. Maybe for some businesses it makes sense to open for a few hours on Sunday, and then close early Monday-Wednesday. Maybe other businesses find that their Sunday sales are so robust that they don’t need to make any other adjustments to their week. The point is, there are options, and people just need to be smart and creative to make it work.
Almost every other state in the country has gone down the path of repealing blue laws. It’s time for Minnesota to join them. I encourage everyone here who hasn’t visited SundaySalesMN to go there and sign the petition and let your voice be heard.