City of Bemidji Liquor Stores
The mission of Bemidji's Municipal Liquor Stores (Lakeview and First City) are to offer the best possible variety of products at a competitive price and to conduct the business of selling alcoholic beverages in a manner that best supports the values of our community.
Please note that no tax dollars are used to support the Liquor Stores. All expenses are paid with Liquor Store revenues and some profits are transferred to the City General Fund.
Bemidji, along with nearly 200 other cities, chose to operate municipal liquor stores. This choice not only allows for greater control over liquor being sold and consumed in the City, but also further diversifies the City's revenue sources.
First City & Lakeview Liquor generate nearly
$500,000 in profits annually
Revenues generated are used to:
Reduce property taxes and support community programs – such as roads, parks and trails, as well as necessary services for our police and fire departments.
History of Municipal Liquor Operations
Municipal liquor stores have been in operation since the United States government repealed prohibition in 1933, giving individual states the responsibility and authority to regulate liquor sales. At that time, the Minnesota legislature gave cities the option of issuing liquor licenses to private businesses or providing municipal alcohol dispensing services.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at:
First City Liquor
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a municipal liquor store?At the repeal of prohibition, each city in Minnesota was allowed to decide how they wanted alcohol to be sold within the city. The City of Bemidji decidd they wanted to control the sale and consumption of alcohol by operating municipal liquor stores.
How many cities have municipal liquor stores?As of 2018, there were about 190 cities operating municipal liquor stores out of 223 facilities statewide. That is about 25% of all MN cities that own and operate municipal liquor stores.
How are the proceeds of Bemidji Liquor stores used?The profits of the City liquor stores are used primarily to reduce annual property taxes by approximately 8% or $450,000. In addition, profits also pay for a wide variety of community projects including construction of the Library, renovation of the Historic Depot, City park and street improvements and most recently as a $250,000 City contribution towards the new Veterans’ Home.
Why do you check everyone's ID?The penalties for selling to someone underage are very severe, including the possibility of a gross misdemeanor, jail time, and up to a $3,000 penalty. This policy is non-discriminatory and ensures that our staff are protected and no one underage is sold to.
How can our group or organization seek a donation from you?We understand there are many valid and well deserving individuals and organizations within our community. Unfortunately, Minnesota State Statue does not allow the City to provide donations unless the revenue is going directly back to a city property, program, or event.
Do you offer quantity discounts?Yes, we have several types of discounts including case discounts. We also offer a senior citizen discount, which is 5% off every Wednesday. If you are planning a large gathering such as a wedding, please contact either one of our locations to discuss pricing.
Do you carry gluten free products?Yes, we have beer, spirits, and wine that are gluten free. Please visit the stores and ask for assistance in locating these items.
If you don't carry something I want, can you get it for me?"Of course! Bemidji Liquors carries a wide selection of beer, wine, and spirits, but we know there is so much more out there. If there is a product you can't find in our store and would like us to carry it or order for you, please let us know.