Liquor store among top grossing in region

Liquor is like liquid gold in the city of Princeton.

Net profits from sales at the city-owned and operated Princeton Wine & Spirits was $209,193 in 2010. The liquor store was nearly the most profitable in its East Central Region, and in the top 25 percent for profitability in all of Minnesota, according to an analysis of municipal liquor stores released last week by the Minnesota Auditor’s office.

Princeton’s liquor store earned 8.2 percent off of sales of $2.54 million, or $209,193. In the East Central Region, that trailed only Pine City, where the liquor store turned a profit of 8.3 percent, the report states.

From a sales standpoint, the liquor store’s gross sales of $2.54 million ranked 36th among the state’s 209 municipal liquor stores in 2010. Lakeville led the pack with $14.76 million in sales, followed by: Edina, $12.85 million; Eden Prairie, $11.64 million; Richfield, $11.11 million; Apple Valley, $9.03 million rounding out the top five. Elk River, to the south, was eighth with gross sales of $5.95 million. Cambridge, to the east, was 19th at $4.17 million and Milaca, to the north, was 49th with $1.76 million in gross sales.

“Generally speaking, municipal liquor stores are a good thing,” said Princeton City Administrator Mark Karnowski.

Locally, liquor operations favor the residents of Princeton, he said.

In Princeton, some of the $209,193 that the liquor store earned in 2010 went to offset property taxes, meaning owners of property in the city saw tax relief because the city council was able to decrease the tax levy, Karnowski said.

The city also has a grant program under which civic organizations can receive donations. It’s from these liquor store profits that the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce was able to receive $10,000 in funding for its programing this year, Karnowski said. Recently, a donation has been made to the Initiative Foundation from the fund and water fees at the Mark Park ball fields have been paid from liquor store profits. Park improvements are generally paid for from the fund, as well.

“We try to use it for projects we couldn’t generally afford with our tax dollars,” Karnowski said. “We use it for the ‘feel good’ stuff,” he said.

The combined net profit off all municipal liquor stores was $21.7 million in 2010, the state auditor’s report states.  That number was down $204,000 over 2009 figures. While profits may have decreased, sales were at a record pace. During 2010, Minnesota’s municipal liquor operations reported the 15th consecutive year of record sales totalling $313.5 million. That was a $2.2 million increase over 2009’s sales.