America

Last Call? Minnesota Shutdown Hits Beer, Cigarette Sales

Behold, The State's Final Beer? A vendor hawks his wares at a Minnesota Twins spring training game against the Orioles. Let's just say that beer and hyperbole are not strangers. i i

Behold, The State's Final Beer? A vendor hawks his wares at a Minnesota Twins spring training game against the Orioles. Let's just say that beer and hyperbole are not strangers. Charles Krupa/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Charles Krupa/AP
Behold, The State's Final Beer? A vendor hawks his wares at a Minnesota Twins spring training game against the Orioles. Let's just say that beer and hyperbole are not strangers.

Behold, The State's Final Beer? A vendor hawks his wares at a Minnesota Twins spring training game against the Orioles. Let's just say that beer and hyperbole are not strangers.

Charles Krupa/AP

Bars and restaurants with no booze; stores with no cigarettes: that's the picture coming into focus in Minnesota, as the effects of the state's government shutdown ripple through society. The reasons range from expired liquor permits (which can't be renewed) to a lack of cigarette tax stamps (which can't be purchased).

With the sale of alcohol and tobacco closely regulated and taxed, stores are quickly running through their supplies, and they're asking for special dispensations that would help them serve their customers.

In a bit unintended and brutal irony, a bar in the Uptown district of Minneapolis has already closed; its liquor license expired on the first day of the shutdown. The name of the suffering bar, innocently caught in the middle of a partisan spat, is the Independent.

And a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune raises the specter of watching baseball without a beer in hand — a state of affairs that's common for some, but unthinkable for others:

The Ugly Mug, a popular bar near Target Field, doesn't have enough beer to get through the baseball season.

"Our inventories are diminishing rapidly over the next month," owner Erik Forsberg said. He was among a cluster of bar and restaurant owners who appealed Tuesday to a court-appointed special master to be allowed to continue buying alcohol during the shutdown. "When [the Twins are] back on Thursday and people can't get Budweiser and they can't get whatever, they're just going to go somewhere else."

One cigarette distributor says he bought some $2 million in tax stamps to prepare for the shutdown. Those in the industry say that the state will run short of cigarettes in September.

By the end of July, around 425 businesses will be without the cards that allow them to buy alcohol from wholesalers, according to the Star Tribune.

"This doesn't just affect retailers, but wholesalers, and the manufacturers, and wedding parties, and church functions, and one day liquor licenses for charity events, and festivals and the list goes on and on and on," Frank Ball of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association told KARE Channel 11.

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