MillerCoors products are still on the shelves at Apple Valley Municipal Liquor stores, as staff await news about whether they will have to pull the company's products—39 beer labels—from their shelves.
According to a Wednesday report on startribune.com, MillerCoors did not renew its brand license with the state of Minnesota before the government shutdown began on July 1, and the license has expired.
A Department of Public Safety spokesman told the Star Tribune that MillerCoors products will have to be removed from bars and liquor stories, while representatives for MillerCoors said the company is fighting the decision.
Scott Swanson, director of operations for Apple Valley's three municipal liquor stores, said Wednesday afternoon that he had talked to the stores' primary distributor on Wednesday morning, who said the company's attorneys were instructing clients to continue business as usual.
"Right now we're fully stocked," with MillerCoors products, Swanson said Wednesday afternoon, which include labels like Miller Genuine Draft, Coors Light and Blue Moon.
Rick Harpham, general manager at Rascal's Bar & Grill in Apple Valley, said Wednesday afternoon that he hadn't been notified that establishments have to pull MillerCoors products yet, so they're still for sale at Rascal's.
Swanson and Harpham said they're waiting for more news at this point. Harpham said MillerCoors products represent between 40 and 50 percent of beer sales at Rascal's; he said this could be "devastating" to some small businesses.
"It won't be devastating to us," he said. "I know it will be to some."
A representative with the Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association told the Star Tribune that about 38 percent of the beer in Minnesota is MillerCoors products. Swanson said it's likely about the same at Apple Valley's municipal liquor stores.
Swanson said he expects that once a decision is made someone would contact the industry members.
"If they call me up … then I’ve got some questions for them,” Swanson said.
He said it's important to him and to the city's liquor operations to know what the state expects stores and bars to do with the products they're already purchased, and how the finances will work out.
"We have purchased these products—we own the products," he said.
Other issues would be how to should care for the products they have to pull, and when they're able to sell again, whether the products they already purchased should be offered for sale.
"We're very careful about rotating the product and selling what's current," he said. "It's a perishable."
Swanson said already this morning, liquor store customers were asking about the issue; some were stocking up on MillerCoors brands, like Blue Moon, he said.
"People are pretty passionate about their brands," he said.
Swanson speculated, however, that if establishments do have to pull MillerCoors products, that people in the Apple Valley area would continue to buy beer in Minnesota but would just choose different brands for the time being.
Harpham said he wishes officials would be more forthcoming about what's going to happen—he called what is happening "unfair."
"There's going to be a lot of hurt people," he said.
Check back with Apple Valley Patch for updates.