Almost one year ago, on May 28, 2015, Rochester became one of the first cities in Minnesota to sell off-sale beer on a Sunday. Limited to breweries selling growlers of their own product, the city had two open breweries at the time. With that total now at four, the local industry can measure the new law’s success.
Rochester is affected by Sunday sales restrictions more severely because the city attracts so many out of state visitors who can purchase on Sunday in their home states, says Kinney Creek owner Donovan Seitz. “It was a huge burden,” he says, as he often had to tell customers that they couldn’t bring any beer home with them even though the taproom could pour beers in-house. The changed law has reduced that frustration.
The change has been gradual, but is measurable, say the four breweries. “We’re seeing more Sunday sales now than we did when we first started. I think people were so accustomed to not being able to buy on Sundays that it took some time to get used to the idea,” explains Tessa Leung, Chief Operations Officer at Grand Rounds. Sundays are now the third highest volume of growler sales at the brewpub, she says. It’s third at Kinney Creek as well, and fourth at Forager. Friday and Saturday are the top sellers at all three.
Measured differently, though, Brandon Schulz of LTS Brewing notes that, “Growler sales compose a higher percentage of our revenue on Sundays relative to all other days of the week.” Sunday is a common get-together day where families and friends gather at homes instead of at taprooms or brewpubs, making the growler a fitting container for such gatherings.
While calendar events can increase sales, such as before an NFL game or big weekends like Super Bowl Sunday, it’s the increased availability that helps the industry. “Many of the liquor store owners who are opposed to opening Sunday sales claim they would just be spreading sales from 6 days across 7, but we’ve definitely seen much more than that,” says Schulz of LTS. “I think we get a lot of sales that are the result of spontaneous plans.”
All four breweries agree that another day to sell their product has been nothing but helpful, and none have experienced negativity from the change. “Any time we can fill a growler or crowler and send it off with someone it benefits us,” Leung stresses. “Not only because it’s a sale, but because the person who buys it takes it home and often shares it with friends who may not be familiar with us.”
Happy with the additional income, the breweries note other areas where change could help them grow, including relaxed distribution rules for brewpubs and increased taproom options. The breweries also understand that restrictions come with the industry. “There are lots of little nuisances to liquor and beer sales in just about every state,” Leung notes. With Sundays creating more opportunity for their businesses, the change has been good so far.