Beer Has Arrived in Mississauga Grocery Stores

 

Christmas has come early for all you rowdy revelers! If you were hoping to pick up a six-pack from somewhere other than the Beer Store or the LCBO, you are in luck. The province has fulfilled its promise to allow some grocers to start selling six-packs of beer.

Santa, it seems, has been kind to us.

Where can you grab a frothy brew?

Michael-Angelo's on Erin Mills Parkway and Loblaws on Glen Erin Drive have been cleared to dispense beer. While they might not have any for sale at this very moment (call ahead first), they should be shelving beer any day now.

The push to bring booze to grocery stores has been a long time coming. While supermarket libations have long been common in the U.S., Ontario has  employed more stringent regulations and only dispensed alcohol at LCBO, Beer Store and LCBO-owned and operated Wine Rack locations (most of which are, in fact, in grocery stores).

As of today, 13 grocers have been given the go-ahead to start shelving some international, domestic and craft brews.

The retailers are: 

  • Coppa’s Fresh Market
  • Farm Boy 2012 Inc.
  • Galleria Supermarket
  • Hanahreuem Mart Inc.
  • J & B La Mantia Ltd. in Lindsay
  • Loblaws Inc.
  • Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc.  
  • Metro Ontario Inc., with locations across the province
  • Michael-Angelos Market Place Inc.
  • Pino’s Get Fresh in Sault Ste. Marie
  • Sobeys Capital Incorporated, with locations across the province
  • Starsky Fine Foods Hamilton Inc.
  • Wal-Mart Canada Corp. 

Back in April, the provincial government announced that it would be allowing some grocery stores to sell beer for the first time in the province's history. The beer roll-out is going to be gradual, but it has begun -- and just in time, too. Grocers who wanted to add beer to their rosters of goods had to register online to begin a bidding process that closed on Nov. 6. While there are only two grocers cleared to carry beer in Mississauga as of today, other brands with locations in the city have also been given the go-ahead to stock their shelves.

Other grocers with Sauga stores who can now sell beer include Longo's, Metro, Sobey's Starsky and Wal-Mart.

While the news is certainly good, the welcome change to booze commerce isn't without its caveats. Grocery stores can only sell six-packs and they cannot sell beer outside of the Beer Store's hours of operation. This means that while you can absolutely grab some cold ones on your way home from work at 6 pm, you'll be SOL if you need to stock up on New Year's Eve at 11:59 pm. Grocers must also observe a "soft cap" on how much they can sell. If they over-sell, they'll have to pay a fee to the almighty Beer Store. 

If you're a big fan of craft beer, you'll be pleased to know that grocers must provide 20 per cent shelf space to Ontario's small and craft brewers. In other good news (mostly for restaurateurs), up to 9,000 small bar and restaurant owners might become eligible to purchase beer at retail rather than premium prices. 

While this change certainly isn't a free-for-all and the Beer Store appears to be maintaining its monopoly, the convenience and common sense of the long-awaited change is more than welcome. 

Shoppers will be able to purchase beer closer to home and during their regular trips to the grocery store. One-stop shopping is always preferable to bouncing from plaza to plaza in search of lettuce, pasta and a six-pack of Corona. While some people might wring their hands over the move and warn of devastating consequences (more drunk drivers, more intoxicated children), most people rightfully expect the status quo to remain unchanged in the province. Also, the opening of the market to Mississauga grocers and restaurateurs is a good thing. Grocers can sell more products, attract more customers and promote local, craft brewers who could use greater market penetration. 

Also, with the popularity of local and craft beer growing, this change could be a boon to both brewers and retailers -- not to mention beer-savvy consumers looking for the next great brew to pair with their wagyu burger. 

Oh, and while we're on the topic of alcohol and, by extension, the LCBO, here's another cool bit of news to chew on: Premier Kathleen Wynne has proposed selling marijuana (if and when it's legalized) in Ontario LCBO stores.

Shopping might get more interesting in Ontario in the next few months or years.  

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