Is Beer Coming to Mississauga Grocery Stores?

 

Christmas is coming early this year! Maybe.

We're not sure if you heard the good (with caveats) news, but after much talk, beer is finally coming to Ontario grocery stores.

Sixty of them by December, it seems.

If you watch the recent Global News video, you'll see Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announcing "an exciting day for people who love beer in Ontario." Following up on a promise made back in April, the provincial government is allowing some Ontario grocery stores -- and hopefully a decent handful in Mississauga -- to sell beer for the first time in the province's history.

This is welcome news.

Alcohol shopping -- and beer is obviously no exception -- can be onerous in Mississauga and Ontario in general. Held hostage by (much, MUCH improved, to be fair) LCBO and Beer Store hours and, in some cases, sparsity, people have had to travel further than they would like and line up longer than necessary for their weekend warrior supplies.

This absolutely necessary change couldn't come at a better time (Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season in general), but it's not without its frustrating limitations.

First of all, the beer roll out will be slow. Only 60 grocery stores are expected to be selling six-packs by Christmas and it's not yet known who the lucky stores (and shoppers) will be. In order to sell beer, grocers need to register online to begin a bidding process and the deadline for submissions is Nov. 6. After Ontarians get their early holiday gift, the giving will hopefully continue as more stores -- 450 within the next three years, to be exact -- acquire beer.

There are a few other caveats. According to the Global video linked above, Grocery stores that manage to win the limited licenses can only sell six-packs and their prices and hours have to reflect those at the Beer Store. If you're hoping to run down to your local Rabba at midnight to grab a multi-pack, you're out of luck.

Grocery stores will also have to deal with a "soft cap" on how much they can sell. If grocers sell more than what's allowed, they will have to pay the Beer Store a fee.

So while it doesn't look like the Beer Store monopoly is going away, this new policy -- and its bones are solid, if not imperfect -- does give retailers and shoppers a few more options and a little bit more convenience.

There's also some good news if you're a craft beer producer or aficionado. As per the new agreement, grocery stores have to provide 20 per cent shelf space to the province's small and craft brewers. If you own or operate a smaller bar or restaurant, you might be one of 9,000 lucky restaurateurs who gets to purchase beer at retail rather than premium prices.

In terms of licenses, grocers in the GTA can bid on 25 of them. Since Mississauga houses close to 1 million people, it would make sense for local retailers to try to nab some licenses -- especially with Christmas coming down the chute (don't fight it, it's coming).

While there has been some (largely misinformed and puritanical) hand-wringing over the increased availability of beer, the move is a long time coming.

The opening of the market to Mississauga grocers and restaurateurs is a good thing. It will allow them to move and sell more products and promote local brews -- a benevolent and economical thing to do as the popularity of craft beer grows. The change is also great for small brewers, as they're guaranteed more distribution and exposure.

So, Mississauga, what do you think?

Are you excited to see a few grocery stores nab beer licenses this December? What locations would you like to buy some brews from?

 

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