Profits and parks: The real story behind Richfield Liquor
Most residents are aware that the City of Richfield owns and operates four municipal liquor stores so this could increase overall sales for the Liquor Operations Department. And a good year for Richfield Liquor means a good year for Richfield parks.
Every year, profits from Richfield Liquor are reinvested into the city’s parks. Annually, it accounts for approximately $450,000 in park improvements. Our parks would not be in such good condition without this additional funding.
"Our parks receive some funding from state and federal grants, but it is not enough to keep them in fine working condition,” said Recreation Services Director Jim Topitzhofer. “Without the funds from the liquor stores we would have to find other funding, such as park dedication fees, or scale back our park amenities.”
Municipal liquor stores are not a new concept; other Minnesota cities also run their own liquor stores. However, most other cities use the proceeds to supplement their general fund. Richfield is unique because it uses its liquor store profits solely to improve its parks.
“Richfield has a reputation for having very nice parks,” said City Manager Steve Devich. “Without liquor store funds, I am afraid we would not have such a good reputation.”
Park improvements and additions that have benefited from liquor store funding can be seen all over the city, but the most recent can be seen at Washington Park, the outdoor pool and Veterans Memorial Park.
In June 2017, the city constructed eight new pickleball courts at Washington Park. Most pickleball players have to use tennis courts that also function as pickleball courts, which make the courts less manageable for senior and younger players. The new courts are pickleball-specific and were partially funded through liquor store profits.
The community has always loved the outdoor pool, but a couple years ago the facility was starting to look its age. It lacked many of the features of other metro area pools and the bathhouse had seen better days. Thanks in part to liquor store funds, the bathhouse was renovated and a zero-depth pool was added.
Lastly, the new play feature at Veterans Memorial Park was made possible through liquor store profits. If you drive by the park in the summer it is rare to not see a flock of children enjoying the play feature.
Richfield Liquor staff is aware that their work serves the higher purpose of improving Richfield’s parks.
“Our staff at Richfield Liquor take a lot of pride knowing what they are doing is making Richfield’s parks better,” said Fillmore. “When I drive by one of Richfield’s nice parks filled with people, it gives me a sense of purpose.”
Staff are not afraid to educate customers about where their money is going when they shop at Richfield Liquor, either.
“Every chance I get, I try and explain to people that shopping at Richfield Liquor makes a difference in their community,” said Shops at Lyndale Wine and Spirits Manager Hayley Srur. “I am a Richfield resident and I think people should know that supporting Richfield Liquor means supporting Richfield parks.”
To learn more about Richfield Liquor operations or to ask questions about how city-owned liquor stores support Richfield parks, please contact Liquor Operations Director Bill Fillmore.