The Northfield Liquor Store has been serving the city for 70 years. Brian Whitt has managed the store for four. Whitt appreciates Northfield Liquor Store’s roots, yet the store itself is not what gets Whitt out of bed in the morning. The community does.
“Every single day is different,” Whitt said. “You get to meet new people every day. Whether they be tourists coming into town to see the River walk or one of the many events that the city or partnering nonprofits put on, you get to meet people from all walks of life from all over the country.”
Northfield’s Liquor Store is not your average liquor store – it is one of 213 municipal liquor stores in Minnesota. Municipal liquor stores are owned by the city they are located in. In order for cities to qualify for a municipal liquor store, cities with a population of 10,000 or less must have established the store prior to July 1, 1967. Population changes after the point of establishment do not apply, allowing the City of Northfield to continue operations with a 20,790 population.
When a city has a municipal liquor store, private liquor stores cannot come into the same city. Whitt believes these laws benefit communities.
“People always want to support local, and that's what our liquor store is about,” Whitt said. “Being city owned, all the profits get poured back into the community.”
For Whitt, people trump profit. Conversations with customers continue to fuel him and his love for the community.
The recent Fifth Street Bridge reopening will positively serve Northfield Liquor Store. But Whitt says the bridge benefits more than his store.
“It’s really going to help not only us,” Whitt said. “But also the community to have a gateway across the river into downtown for every other business.”
While Northfield Liquor Store appreciates the bridge reopening, they are looking forward to another bridge between the city and the community – the 4-Way Taste Festival.
Northfield Liquor Store and Red Barn Pizza Farm are partnering with the Northfield Rotary for the festival on Thursday, July 21 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Red Barn Pizza Farm. The event features more than 20 vendors, two music groups and is sponsored by 32 local businesses.
4-Way Taste Festival co-chairs Brent Nystrom and Annika Rychner have been looking forward to the festival all year. Nystrom has helped with the 4-Way Taste Festival for four years and has been co-chair with Annika Rychner for three. Because of COVID-19, Nystrom said this will be the most “normal” taste festival since 2019. A sense of normalcy excites Nystrom.
“It's about community,” Nystrom said. “We want the broader Northfield community to come together, and this is a cool opportunity to do that.”
Nystrom says the event is a win-win both for the Rotary and the community. The community gets an evening of live music, food and drinks, while the Rotary gets to connect with the community they serve and raise money for their organization.
A bridge like this – between the City, the Rotary and the community – should not be overlooked Nystrom says.
“What a fun, inexpensive way to gather with friends, socialize, and at the same time support causes,” Nystrom said. “Because at the end of the day, it's all going to something great.”
For details and tickets, head to the Northfield Rotary.
Brian Whitt has managed the Northfield Liquor Store for four years. The community is what gets him excited to come into work every day. Photo by City of Northfield, Emma Conway.