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Monday, January 11, 2010

Large Majority Say Sunshine Liquor Expansion Not Good for Madison

Hey, we broke 100 on the latest Madville Times poll! Thanks, everyone!

I asked, "Will Sunshine's new liquor store be good for Madison?" You said...

37 (37%)
64 (63%)

Votes so far: 101

Does this poll mean Dan Roemen's new adult business is bound to fail? Not at all. You don't need to sell your product to everyone. 53% of Midwesterners are regular drinkers (see this PDF, p. 41). Only 6% of Americans are problem drinkers. But just 6% can buy a lot of booze.

The poll does mean that I'm not the only who recognizes that building yet another prominent alcohol outlet, in Madison's only grocery store, isn't exactly the Unexpected™ that we want folks to discover in Madison. More booze may be a perfectly profitable business decision for Sunshine. But it is also bad for Madison's image, bad for our kids, and bad for our economy.

Per Kristen's suggestion, I'll pass these comments on to Mr. Roemen. I may send him some other grocery recommendations... written on the back of my Hy-Vee receipts.


  1. Is moving a bunch of liquor and wine out of the center of the store, and beer away from the check-out lines, really bad for kids?

    Matt Groce

  2. No, but moving it out into full view of the highway (expect a big sign), reducing the movies and games available to kids, and cutting out a few jobs that the older kids could get at the movie store doesn't exactly help.

    And don't forget:

    "There is evidence that high alcohol outlet density contributes to increased crime and violence, youth violence, homicide, and other public nuisance and illegal activities" [Marin Institute, 2006].


    "...higher off-premise (such as liquor stores) alcohol outlet density are [sic] associated with higher child physical abuse, and injuries from accidents..." [Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, "Alcohol: Crime and Violence," 2006].

    More booze decreases our kids' quality of life.

  3. It's "bad" because it's such a poor choice over improving the grocery store. We have plenty of other liquor stores and there's really no reason to have any liquor in the store whatsoever unless it's sheer profit motive. There's nothing wrong with a good place to buy liquor, but we already have that in the community. Do your own poll and ask if your friends find our grocery store adequate. Almost everyone told me no. Not enough selection and the prices are too high.

    And truthfully movie rental stores are on their way out anyway.

  4. Steve Sibson1/11/2010 11:33 AM

    "I'll pass these comments on to Mr. Roemen. I may send him some other grocery recommendations... written on the back of my Hy-Vee receipts."


    Since you know so much about the grocery busines, why don't you start a store of your own to compete, instead of waiting for Hy-Vee or Walmart to provide your solution? Your approach here shows the unwillingness to have individuals fix problems and instead rely on Big Goverment and/or Big Business.

  5. Steve,

    Starting a grocery store is challenging, but not impossible. For example:


    is a co-op in Rapid City. They started out as a group that would just make bulk purchases, but have worked themselves up to a full store.

    However, their prices are 2-3x market. I think that their survival is strictly due to the large, affluent population of Rapid. I doubt such a shop could develop organically in Madison. Sioux Falls could certainly support one though.

    Also, I think CAH may be defining running a business well differently than you. He may be looking at the broader social implications rather than just the financial aspects. I don't think it's unreasonable to point out that there may be negative consequences for the town when a major business makes a change.

  6. Steve Sibson1/11/2010 3:33 PM

    "Starting a grocery store is challenging"


    You are right. There are a lot of government regulations and taxes you have to deal with.

  7. Cory,

    Which Hy-Vee are you shopping at? The Hy-Vee stores that I've been to in Sioux Falls all sell liquor, and the one in Brookings has wine at every turn and a large selection of beer.

    Dave Rislov

  8. Hi, Dave! You pose a reasonable question. My concern here is not a simple WCTU no-booze position. It's a more general business/community complaint. My Hy-Vee receipts (and the Hy-Vee receipts of numerous other Madison shoppers) provide lists of grocery "needs" folks can't get in Madison. Yet our local grocery store chooses to stock more of a product that (a) is already available here in abundance and (b) causes significant social harms. In the process, our local grocery store kills another business and six jobs and makes Madison look bad.

    I don't like alcohol. But this business decision is bad for the community on other levels.

  9. Cory,

    After all the recent complaints I've been reading, I'm glad to hear you're going to request some food items!

    "Per Kristen's suggestion, I'll pass these comments on to Mr. Roeman." - Okay, I'd be happy to be the reason you're communicating with Dan about food items, but don't suggest that I have encouraged you to "pass these comments on to Mr. Roeman," with "these comments" referring to your Sunshine liquor expansion poll. Please change the wording; I have never suggested that you pass your poll results onto Dan.

    I suppose I'm glad to see that you're attempting to finally communicate with Dan about you're food requests. But when you say that you're going to send him some grocery recommendations on the back of Hy-Vee receipts (right next to your rant about his liquor expansion), I would hardly believe the sincerity of your requests. Why be so "utterly rude?" (You once asked me the same question in Speech class!)

    If you truly want those food items, I would guess that you're smart enough not to show such hostility. Since when did decent, man-to-man communication become so hard? Darn this internet... it has inhibited the best of us!

  10. Rude? Au contraire! I can't think of any more direct and useful way to help Dan recognize market opportunities than to show him exact lists, with quantities and prices, of the items Madison folks buy elsewhere. Merchants will kill for that kind of data... or at least buy you a drink.

  11. Cory, you keep going back to saying that Sunshine "killed the movie store business and loss of six jobs" issue. Didn't the store owner offer the lessee the opportunity to renew the lease? In which case it wasn't Roeman's fault. The movie store operator didn't renew the lease, so the responsibility is his. And as someone else noted, movie stores are becoming passe anyway. Maybe this will increase business and job openings at the remaining movie store.

    Your issue should be only that Madison doesn't need another liquor outlet, which is probably true, but Sunshine already sells booze anyway. Those who want it will buy it, those wno don't, won't. Unless you want to become Carrie Nation like, and I believe you don't, let the free market take care of the liquor sales issue.

  12. Let the free market take care of itself? Please, there is no such thing.

    In my friendship poll, my favorite Madison cheerleader surprised me by wondering if Dan R. had so much pull with the LAIC he prevented competition from coming to Madison.

    When someone comes from privilege, they rarely get it.

  13. Steve Sibson1/12/2010 8:18 PM

    "Let the free market take care of itself? Please, there is no such thing."

    John, good point. But there is one area where there is a free market withoug government intervention, until you get caught...illegal drugs. And people having problems with alcohol many times also have problems with those. Again, government can't fix that, even when they ban the problem. The best we can do is minmize the impact by increasing the moral foundation of this country. Time for the government to remove its ban on God in schools. And don't forget South Dakota's motto...Under God the People rule. Go Gordon Howie.


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