ST. PAUL—Minnesota’s city-owned liquor stores produced record 2016 sales for the 21st straight year, but higher costs kept profits down.
The state auditor reported Tuesday stores listed $344 million in sales, up $7 million over 2015.
Nisswa’s liquor sales stood out on the list, with $3,512,358 in sales and a net profit of $302,039. Although this year’s figure is down slightly from the previous year’s profits—$338,684—it’s nearly six times the profits in 2008, which were $51,792 between Spirits of Nisswa and Ye Olde Pickle Factory (or simply “The Pickle”), Nisswa’s two municipal stores. Spirits of Nisswa is an off-sale store, whereas Ye Olde Pickle Factory is a bar and restaurant.
Nisswa punched above its weight when it comes to city size. The city’s 2016 population was 2,033, but it had profits comparable to the city of Bemidji, which has 15,119 people living in it and made $713,240 in net profit. That means that even though Nisswa is about 13 percent of Bemidji’s population, it made the equivalent of 42 percent of Bemidji’s liquor profits. Nisswa makes up for its smaller size with its significant tourism draw that creates a bustling atmosphere with busy…