Editorial: Booze law isn't perfect, but it's a good step forward

Liquor sales in retail stores are one step closer, with the provincial government unveiling some details about the standalone outlets which can be located within existing grocery stores.

Liquor will not be sold in corner or convenience stores, which removes one of the concerns of those who opposed selling liquor beyond the existing sales network.

Those who currently hold private liquor store licences, which generally go to those with pub licences, will be able to move their licences (presumably via sale or lease)  into grocery stores. The current restriction that licences must be for businesses within a five-kilometre limit will be lifted. Wisely, the government realizes this move gives an economic benefit to licence holders, and wants them to pay a transfer fee.

The standalone stores will be in larger grocery stores, and within the same building — not in standalone buildings. This makes a lot of sense, customers will be able to put groceries and liquor in their carts, but pay for their liquor in designated checkout lines.

This move brings an era of civility to liquor sales not seen before in B.C. It wasn’t that long ago that we had to go into government liquor stores, ask for the product we wanted, and received it in a brown paper bag. Then we got government stores in shopping malls, and then a mix of private and government liquor stores.

It will be wonderful to be able to pair liquor, particularly wine and beer, with food and get some expert advice on those pairings within stores, as is the case at some U.S. grocery stores.

One step towards promoting B.C.-made beer, wine and spirits is to allow for point-of-sale demonstrating, tastings and advice. While this does take place in liquor stores now, it can  be expanded greatly within the confines of a larger grocery store selling a wide variety of products.

Sales of liquor in grocery stores begin in 2015.

- Black Press



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