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Beer run to Wisconsin protests Minnesota's Sunday sales ban

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Minnesotans who want to buy alcohol in their own state on Sundays made a politically motivated beer run across the border to Wisconsin Sunday to make their point.

About 50 people rallied at the Minnesota State Capitol to call for lawmakers to overturn the Sunday ban on liquor sales, then they climbed into a few dozen vehicles for the drive across the border to liquor stores in Hudson, Wis.

The cars bore flags showing a picture of Wisconsin saying, "Thanks, Minnesota! See you next Sunday," MPR News reports.

Some in the group were lawmakers; others were owners of liquor stores and craft breweries who are pushing for a repeal of the state's long-standing ban on Sunday alcohol sales.

The Sunday event was coordinated by Minnesota Beer Activists. The group's director Andrew Schmitt said the shopping excursion to Wisconsin is a symbol, "just a small representation of money that’s leaving our state every Sunday," according to the Star Tribune.

Indeed, Tamra Kramer, owner of the Vom Fass liquor store in the Mall of America, said the ban on Sunday sales is costing her between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, the Star Tribune reports.

"Minnesota is surrounded by states that allow Sunday sales," said Jason Alvey, the owner of Four Firkins craft brewery in St. Louis Park, according to MPR News. "We need to get with the times."

But there's another vocal group of liquor store owners and legislators who want to keep the Sunday ban in place. They call their effort the SMART Campaign (Supporting Minnesota's Alcohol Regulations and Traditions).

They say allowing Sunday sales will hurt many family-owned liquor stores who already operate on a thin profit margin and are competing with big-box retail outlets.

“The activists here today are working against the hundreds of small local businesses in Minnesota to deregulate our current smart and balanced alcohol regulations," Joe Butler, who manages a liquor store in Norwood Young America, said in a statement released by the SMART Campaign. "It’s sad they are promoting Wisconsin businesses for political promotion at our expense."

The issue has come up repeatedly in the state Legislature, and another bill as been introduced this session. But so far there hasn't been enough support for a repeal.

Minnesota is one of a dozen states that prohibit Sunday liquor sales.

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