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Effects of MillerCoors Licensing Problems Still Unclear

Liquor store owners still don't know what will happen.

Cassie Wells at  in Golden Valley said that MillerCoors actually made a delivery to her store Wednesday afternoon, but added that the delivery people didn't know much about a possible problem with brand label registration.

MillerCoors failed to properly renew its brand label registration with the state before the shutdown began—preventing the sale of products such as Coors Light, Miller Lite and Blue Moon.

"I'm just going with the flow and I really don't have any idea as to what is going to be the final outcome of all this," Wells said.

The news that MillerCoors could soon be missing from store shelves had  before it disappeared. But the reaction at local liquor stores has been decidedly more mixed.

Partly that’s because there is still much uncertainty about how everything will play out. Brenda Visnovec, the director of  operations, said MillerCoors representatives are setting up times to collect their products from store shelves in the event stores have no space to store their inventory. 

But none of the three Minnetonka liquor stores that Patch talked to today had yet received official confirmation that MillerCoors is facing this battle over registration with state officials or is making plans to yank their product off local shelves. 

“We’ve reached out to our [MillerCoors] rep but we haven’t heard anything,”  owner John Farrell said. “We’ve heard absolutely nothing."

 in St. Louis Park gets about half of its beer sales from MillerCoors products. On the surface, that leaves the company highly vulnerable in the wake of yesterday’s news. But company spokesman Paul Ralles isn’t too worried because he thinks the people who routinely buy those beers would just buy other ones instead.

"It may not be beer, but it will be another of the products we sell," he said.

In Minnesota, beer is paid for upon delivery to a liquor store or a bar. Therefore, some local store owners insist that the 39 brands of MillerCoors beverages which have already made it local stores can be sold.

Lee Gilbertson, a manager at , pledged that no one would pull his MillerCoors products.

"We've already paid for it, so I wouldn't let them,” he said. “That would sort of be like going after customers who have purchased it and trying to take it back from them."

Visnovec disagreed, saying that a brand license is needed to sell any product, in stock or not. And since MillerCoors doesn't have its license, she said, all the products need to be yanked. Restaurants and bars, however, can still sell their stock assuming their liquor license is up to date. 

But even if that is true, it's not clear who would actually enforce it and cite stores that failed to comply.

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