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Queen’s Park shoots down corner store booze proposal

Not in Ontario (Image: Owen Byrne)

Well, that was fast. Despite corralling 113,000 signatures, a request from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association to bring beer and wine to corner stores was shot down by Ontario Liberals yesterday. In an email to the Toronto Sun, Aly Vitunski, a spokesperson for Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, adopted an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of attitude, saying: “The current system balances access for both customers and suppliers with social responsibility. We take the concerns of convenience store owners seriously, but we believe the current system of selling liquor is an effective way to guard the public interest.” The Sun also quotes NDP MPP Rosario Marchese making similar noises, although Tim Hudak, at least, “didn’t reject the idea outright.” Perhaps the $1.5 billion annual dividend the LCBO pays to provincial coffers has something to do with all this? [Toronto Sun]

  • Phil

    Idiots. It’s hugely broke. Ironically, so is our provincial government. Bunch of crooks. Spokesperson obviously has no clue that it’s larger than corner stores. Many many problems behind their decisions. The Beer Store is one of them. Shut them down.

  • stella

    I miss the Depanneurs from Quebec although they should go one bigger as some stores have wineries selling in grocery stores. In the UK every grocery store you can buy your liquor provisions with your everyday groceries very handy I say for dinners etc than having to shlep all the way to the LCBO to get the other half of your party provisions is hardly ideal. It wouldn’t turn me into an alkie overnight certainly but would make it a lot easier and employ more cashiers at local grocery stores instead of those cheap mechanical versions cold and impersonal and hardly useful.

  • re-electrobford?areyoumad

    although i would like the convenience of the opportunity to buy something from the end of the block, i look at my corner stores and wouldn’t trust these vendors to sell liquor. it would also create more vagrancy and panhandling closer to home. i should point out that i am a downtown dweller in a high occupancy neighborhood and not a burbs guy and i have 4 liquor stores and 3 beer stores to choose from within a kilometre of my home.

  • re-electrobford?areyoumad

    well meghan, you’ve spammed yelp and now toronto life too! i am sure everyone wants your locksmithing expertise.

  • Mandy

    All I want to see is some healthy competition. Having lived in Alberta (where liquor stores can be owned by a citizen) I think they have managed it, and this request doesn’t even include the hard liquor. There is an Edmonton store with over 600 kinds of beer, I found some great ones there that I was upset to learn I couldn’t get when I moved back to Ontario. I’d like to see some more variety.

  • Dave

    Consider the following as this has more implications than just convenience…

    Must be 18 years of age to sell alcohol in Ontario (19 to consume), any employees under the age of 18 will not be able to sell alcohol. Does this mean all kids who are under age will no longer have jobs at their local convenience store? Laws will have to change….unlikely.

    Selection will be very limited due to the space required to shelve all the brands and sizes currently available in Ontario. I think I heard that The Beer Store has 400+ brands and the LCBO 300+ brands with much over lap. There is little chance that the grocery or convenience stores will have “your” brand or package size available to you if you do not drink mainstream products (Canadian, Bud, Blue, Coors Light, etc).

    Price differences among retailers are not permitted in Ontario. LCBO approves all pricing based on brewer requests and no one retailer can sell for a different price than another retailer. Laws will have to change….unlikely, so there will be no price “competition”. Retailers in Ontario do not set pricing, brewers do.

    If brewers are made to deliver to convenience stores this would increase their distribution costs which they will not want to pay for, guess what? Prices in Ontario will increase so brewer’s margins are not negatively impacted.

    Convenience stores will want to supply brands that will sell well (high turnover) so this will likely prevent the smaller brewers from getting shelf space in these stores as well as any slower moving brands from any brewer.

    While the current alcohol retail system seems archaic it seems very efficient for brewers to distribute their products at the lowest possible price.

    If consumers think about all the pros and cons they would want choice even more than convenience. I would at least.

    Just my two cents worth.

  • Toby

    I think the LCBO and Beer Store need to be separated in this discussion. One is a government monopoly, the other is a private monopoly.

    The fact is that the Beer Store is a private monopoly owned by a foreign brewers conglomerate. Yes, the profits leave the country folks.

    Some investigative journalism could discover why exactly a private foreign owned monopoly has been granted in Ontario like we are some Banana Republic or something.

    This smells of crony capitalism for the 1% at its finest.

    Nationalization by the LCBO of the beer retail and wholesale trade or opening the market are both better solutions than the current situation.

  • re-electrobford?areyoumad

    now we have another spammer by the name of Aleisha….

  • Why No

    This is all about healthy “real” competition.
    The LCBO has said for many years openingly in public they are not a monopoly!
    Well I say put the your money where your mouth is.
    I am calling on Queens Park to do:

    One year to build.
    One year to run.

    1)Separate bonded warehousing from the the lcbo run by private interprise with non unionized staff for privatized location.
    2) All products must still go through the LCBO lab.
    3) Stores can carry any product available from anywhere in the world. And must access own stock.
    4) No limits on sales prices and any store can mark down any stock at any time to move.
    5) Outside of stock currently in the bonded warehouse, stock can order and carry any product they wish from anywhere in the world but are responsible for carrying costs and sale. Any agent may move their stock including consignment, into the bonded warehouse for sale and pay stocking fees. No one at the LCBO would have control over products in the bonded warehouse with the cavet that all at the end of the two year test, all products must be sold. If the lcbo is allowed to move products back into the lcbo system at this time then the sames rules will apply to agent stock from consignment and other.

    Force one Lcbo store to locate build, run, source, transport and operate like a real retail store with the ability to set there own hours and carry their own stock where it has been in the province or not. They would have to rent or buy a location, create and fund their own store with no assistance from the lcbo coffers. All permits, building costs, decor, must be in the audited KPMG report with no existing materials used from the LCBO.

    Both operations would have to have products go through the lab process for safety but no other LCBO protocol. All LCBO staffing rules or days off, hours, government holidays etc are off the table. Everyone working in the store in any capacity has to be on the books and no LCBO assistance or materials, product or inventory system can be used. Let the LCBO staff this store with their best people should they choose.

    Give one private interprise the same opportunity.

    Hire KMPG to monitor, silent shopper, track underage drinking in both stores, inventory, spillage (stealing), staffing, payroll, decor, service levels, product knowledge and merchandizing and at the end of they year their profit and their contribution in taxes to Queens Park.

    It is my belief if Queens Park really wants to make money they would close the highly paid management at head office, privitize the stores, privitize the warehouse system as well and keep their QC labs and still contribute the taxes to Queens Park! Do you realize there are LCBO stores that do not breakeven based on their salaries, rent, and standard operation expenses, less store profits and outside of the taxes paid by the sale of booze they do not make money!

  • Chris

    It is a MYTH that government cannot collect taxes with the LCBO or, as my favourite wine guy Konrad Ejbich calls it, the KGBO. Private store owners would be collecting taxes, which is what happened in Alberta, where sales (and tax revenues) are higher and selection and service for consumers is far better. We are being deprived and I am outraged.

  • re-electrobford?areyoumad

    Selection for consumers is NOT better in Alberta. You have to drive all over the place to try and find products. The local store only carries what sells the most. You end up with the cheapest, nastiest plonk you could imagine. Yes there are stores that specialize in wine or beer…but when I am in Millwoods in Edmonton, I don’t want to be driving all the way to the northside for a case of something that isn’t Molson. Or to the west end for a decent bottle of wine.

    As far as service, the Alberta Government created a new class of minimum wage workers.

    The AB gov’t did introduce a flat tax system on the booze which was great (at least for me-high end product cost less like macallan while everyday stuff like smirnoff cost more). the gov’t off loaded the union costs, off loaded the real estate and related cost. they set minimum sell prices and maximum mark ups for retailers. they are still very much in control.

    the biggest difference other than a couple of bucks here and there is that in Ontario we have a wider selection in EACH store and in Alberta there is are more obscure products in certain stores.

    the grass may be greener, but live the nightmare when you are within 3 private liquor stores and all you can get is crap for wine….

  • Sophon Chou

    All I can say is do you like Healthcare? Or other any other type of public services? You cut out the LCBO, and you cut out your province’s revenue. That being said, if you privatize, you WILL lose that revenue and the government will just have to up another tax, so what’s it going to be people? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. All you will do when you privatize is increase the financial pockets of the Loblaw’s of the world. These companies and their owners just keep getting richer, and keep their employees at minimum part time wages, and hide their money in off shore accounts. If you have an issue it’s not the LCBO it’s with the Brewer’s Retail.

    Everyone complains about not having enough selection, etc. etc. etc. But you have to realize that sometimes these micro breweries just can’t produce enough of these single batch brews to supply all of Ontario. Look at the Rogue Voodoo Bacon ale, people complain about it being out of stock and they can’t get it, but blame their marketing guys for hyping it up so much and then it running out. The company only made one vat of the beer, and it was seasonal item, so of course it ran out. Do the math!

    Other small micro brews, also just want to stay local and the costs of shipping products across the country or the province is too much for them to incur. So there are several reasons why there isn’t that much ‘selection’, and if you really want it that badly go order a case of it via the LCBO’s private ordering department.

    Also, I AM from Alberta and the selection there sucks! The cost of product is not that inexpensive either, so for those of you who say that competition will bring the costs down, you obviously haven’t lived in that province. I was blown away when I moved here and saw how inexpensive the products were, and also the quality. Unlike in Alberta, I can always trust that the product will be good when I go to grab a $10 bottle of wine, and it will taste fantastic! Versus the other bottle of miscellaneous wine you would get from a mom and pop grocery store with dust on it. Also, how many other retailers will be let you bring in a defective product no questions asked? (Side note: In Alberta, I also had to pay for my healthcare at $65/month, whereas in Ontario…I don’t).

    I also live downtown, and if you go to the Beer Store on Gerrard and Ontario; you will see what social issues are associated with alcohol with a private retailer. Now image if the convenience store on the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne had the ability to sell alcohol? Sure it’s convenient to have it at the corner store, but REALLY??? Who actually needs to drink at 4am when they are already half in or fully in the bag already?