The Kasson Liquor Store certainly qualifies as a success.
One of seven municipal liquor stores from Southeast Minnesota on the 2019 Analysis of Municipal Liquor Store Operations annual report from the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office, the Kasson "muni" earned $110,937 for its town, more than twice the next closest store in the region, Mazeppa Municipal Liquor Store, which earned $53,994 for its city.
"A lot of times that money is used for special projects," said Kasson City Administrator Tim Ibisch.
Equipment for parks or the swimming pool are common uses for the funds earned by the liquor store, he said.
In fact, the store has been so successful, Ibisch said the city is studying the market for liquor, wine and beer in the area to see if it should expand its municipal liquor store.
"Not everyone wants to go to Rochester, and we're glad we can keep those dollars in the local Kasson market," he said.
Cathy Pletta, the manager of Kasson's city-owned liquor store, said she's proud her store can contribute so much to the community. For example, she said, a few years ago, the city used $70,000 from the liquor store profits to buy furniture for the public library.
"They can just grab that money and spend it," she said. "If you drink or you don't drink, you benefit from us being here."
Not every city on the list sees the kind of success they do in Kasson.
The Plainview Liquor Store lost $61 total on the year in 2019. It would seem 2020 did not fare better, because the city sold the liquor store to private owners in August.
Municipal liquor stores come in two forms: off-sale, where they only sell liquor that leaves the store such as bottles of spirits or wine, or cans and bottles of beer. The second version combines off-sale with on-sale, meaning that liquor store also has a bar attached where people can stay and order drinks. While those establishments have been slowed due to COVID-19 in 2020, that won't show up until next year's report is released.
The Kasson store is off-sale only, while the store in Mazeppa is on- and off-sale.
Kenyon's liquor store, which is both on- and off-sale, earned $49,439 for the western Goodhue County town.
Other stores in the region include Caledonia (off-sale only), which earned $10,908; Spring Grove (on- and off-sale), which earned $5,779; and West Concord, (on- and off-sale), which lost $19,481.
Across Minnesota in 2019, net profits for all municipal liquor operations totaled $27.9 million, a decrease of $1.1 million, or 3.9%, from the amount generated in 2018. Among on‐sale operations, net profits totaled $3.5 million in 2019, which was an increase of $4,247, or 0.1% from 2018. The off-sale profits totaled $24.4 million in 2019, which represents a decrease of $1.1 million, or 4.4%, from 2018.
Pletta said a big part of her success in Kasson is the support she gets from the community, meaning everyone from the City Council and Ibisch at City Hall down to the people who come to the store looking for a good deal on spirits. The store also supports — besides herself — one full-time and five part-time employees, meaning the city gets a lot of benefit for owning and operating a liquor store.
"The money doesn't go to some faceless corporation." she said. "It stays here in town."