Princeton and Milaca municipal liquor stores had big and busy years in 2020.

The area liquor stores were among stores statewide that saw a boost to their profits in 2020, with off-sale income driving the increase, according to a report released by Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha.

The Foreston Liquor Store, on the other hand, saw sales decrease.

Sales surged at municipal liquor stores in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a sales surge as bars and restaurants were order closed for parts of the year by an executive order from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

Princeton’s municipal liquor store had sales of $5.615 million in 2020, ranking the store 22nd in the state for municipal liquor sales. That’s an increase of $1.250 million over its 2019 sales of $4.365 million. Princeton’s sales ranked 26th in the state in 2019.

Milaca Municipal Liquors saw its sales increase from $2.243 Million to $2,894 million, an increase of 551,000. Milaca’s sales ranking increased from 48th in the state in 2019 to 44th in the state in 2020.

Blaha’s report shows that the two municipal liquor stores also saw healthy net profits in 2020. Princeton had a net profit of $723,553, or 12.9% of its sales. Milaca posted a net profit of $247,048, or 8.5% of its sales. When ranked by its net profit as a percent of sales, Princeton ranked 17th in the state. Milaca was ranked 64 among state municipal liquor stores.

It was a bleaker picture in Foreston, where the city has both on-sale and off-sale operations.

Foreston’s liquor store sales were $440,376 in 2019. However, those sales fell more than 25 percent to $340,203 in 2020. That was a decrease of $100,173, according to the State Auditor’s Office.

Still, Foreston posted a net profit of $35,038, or 10.3% of its sales. When ranked by its net profit as a percent of sales, Foreston was ranked 37th in the state.

In Minnesota, 179 cities run 213 liquor stores. Thirty-seven cities reported that their stores saw net losses in 2020. Most of those were municipal liquor stores that offer on-sale service, meaning they relied on sit-down customers, as opposed to the strictly carryout service that off-sale liquor stores provide.

Blaha’s report included the amount of money that municipal liquor stores transferred into their general fund. In Princeton, $158,350 was transferred back into the City’s general fund. In Milaca, $92,650 was transferred back to the general fund. In Foreston, $27,903 was transferred back into the general fund.

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