Lonsdale Liquor

A recent report released by the Minnesota State Auditor shows Lonsdale Liquors’ numbers and percentages have increased significantly from 2017 to 2018. One contributing factor is that the store hours have included Sundays as of last year. (News Review file photo)

A report on municipal liquor sales indicates Lonsdale Liquor experienced a sharp increase in sales during 2018.

State Auditor Julie Blaha released the 2018 Municipal Liquor Store Operations report Wednesday. It shows trends and financial data for on- and off-sale liquor in Minnesota towns and cities with municipal liquor stores, such as Lonsdale Liquor.

“I think we’re on a nice climb, up, up, up continually since we opened in 2007,” said Lynette Moe, Lonsdale Liquor manager.

The report indicates that Lonsdale Liquor sales totaled $1.58 million in 2018, a substantial increase from 2017’s $1.46 million in liquor sales. Like previous years, Lonsdale sales are comparable to Kasson, which in 2018 generated $1.56 million in sales. Northfield, with its higher population, generated the most sales in its region with $2.9 million.

Liquor sales have been climbing the charts across the state as a whole. According to a press release from the State Auditor’s Office, this is the 23rd consecutive year the state of Minnesota has generated record-breaking sales. The total sales across the state in 2018 — $320.2 million — represent an increase of $11.3 million or 3.2% since 2017.

The report’s executive summary shows the combined net profit of liquor store operations across the state totaled $29 million in 2018. That’s an increase of $5.9 million, or 25.6%, from 2017 to 2018.

At $73,909, City Administrator Joel Erickson said the store’s net profit increased in 2018 by 178% over 2017’s $25,707 net profit. This is the biggest increase Lonsdale Liquor has seen in that area, he said.

Erickson believes an increased customer count and higher prices contributed to the higher sales.

“I also attribute [the increase of sales] to Lonsdale Liquor Manager Lynette Moe working with her vendors in getting her best deals on product,” said Erickson. “I give Lynette the credit for continuing to improve the business.”

Erickson and Moe agree that having the liquor store open on Sundays has also contributed to more sales. Sunday hours began for Lonsdale Liquor in July 2017, said Moe, but 2018 was the first full year to account for Sunday hours.

Having paid off the building in January this year, Moe said she’s excited to see how that accomplishment reflects the liquor report for 2019. As far as sales go, she theorizes the liquor store has seen increased traffic with new residents in Lonsdale. She’s also offered more wine tastings than previous years, which has attracted more customers.

“Buying the right deal, pricing accordingly — all that plays a role in where we’re going to sit,” said Moe. “I watch the budget and stick to my goals. I’m never afraid to try something different, but if it doesn’t work, I stop. People are pretty set in their ways with what they’re going to buy.”

Operating expenses of Lonsdale Liquor, totaling $290,768, only increased by .25% from 2017, said Erickson. One way Lonsdale Liquor cut down on operating expenses, he said, was by reworking staff responsibilities.

Moe explained that she promoted two part-time employees to night supervisors, but since they still maintain a part-time status, payroll expenses haven’t increased by much. The stores has a total of five part-time employees.

“We try to have the best customer service, stay happy and helpful,” said Moe. “That always helps to bring people back, and it reflects in the numbers.”

To view the entire 2018 Analysis of Municipal Liquor Store Operations, go to bit.ly/35kpezJ.

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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