Liquor sales could help convenience stores survive, owner says

Rose Willigar
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AMHERST - Allowing convenience stores to sell beer and wine would allow them to remain competitive against bigger stores, says the owner of an Amherst store.

Mike LeBlanc, owner of Mike's Drive Thru and Convenience Store on South Albion Street, said stores such as his need help and allowing beer and wine sales would be a step in the right direction.
"With bigger stores being able to stay open seven days a week, with most of them carrying items that would be sold in convenience stores, takes away from convenience store sales. It leaves us looking for ways to attract customers," LeBlanc said.
A couple of ways LeBlanc has found to attract customers is to have a tanning bed on site along with the convenience of drive-thru service.
Earlier this week, Sid Chedrawe, president of the Independent Food Stores Association, said small store owners are losing the battle to gas stations and larger chain stores that are now selling many of the items that used to be the corner store's domain, including chips, candy bars, lottery tickets and small grocery items.
He said beer and wine sales would open up another revenue stream for many storeowners struggling to stay open.
LeBlanc said convenience stores sell tobacco products and lottery tickets that are regulated so that identification is required, and feels the sale of beer and wine products could be handled in the same fashion.
"I would certainly make the necessary accommodations for the sale of beer and wine products. The fact that I have a drive-thru would certainly attract customers for such products," LeBlanc said.
It's unlikely the province will move in that direction, with Len Goucher, the minister responsible for the liquor corporation, saying the province is adequately served by government-run liquor stores as well as privately-operated agency stores and private wine shops.
It's also opposed by the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, and not all storeowners are on board.
Tony Wood, son of Highland Market owner Rod Wood, said the sale of beer and wine probably isn't something the store would get into for a couple of reasons.
"We simply wouldn't have the space and with having a couple cashiers who are under 19 years of age would create problems with the cashiers not being able to sell the products," Wood said.
Not ruling out whether or not the store would sell the products, Wood said they would look at regulations that would be implemented that would encompass the sale of beers and wines, and make a decision if there were such a possibility.

Organizations: Convenience Store, Independent Food Stores Association, Nova Scotia Government Employees Union

Geographic location: South Albion Street

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Recent comments

  • Jack on the rocks
    January 18, 2010 - 11:24

    Hey DON, you may want to inquire about some info on fines.Get caught with a bag of weed(illegal)and get caught walking down town with a beer(legal,beer that is).I'd take the dope fine anyday of the week over the open booze.The only peeole who won't want booze at convience stores will be NSLC,sales at the mall location would be in the toilet.

  • Peter
    January 18, 2010 - 11:07

    Just what convenience stores need, another reason for their clerks to be held up at knife point or gun point.
    As if cigs & cash aren't enough of a draw to the criminal element.
    Let's introduce booze & more cash
    to entice the criminals.

  • Don
    January 18, 2010 - 11:05

    Jack; You are missing my point. Sure the fine for open liquor is large, but it does not come with the stigma of a criminal record. You could get caught over & over with booze, the fine stays the same. With weed, you must face a judge, who then decides how big of a threat you are to soceity. Also the prosecutor will be sure to remind his honour of any past charges so as to get the max fine possible. If this is equal justice then our justice system is wrong.
    When I want to relax with a drink of booze, I find my way to one of our liquor stores & make a purchase. There is no inconvenience for me, it's the same as going to the hardware or grocery store. I don't need it in every corner store I enter.

  • who cares
    January 18, 2010 - 11:01

    we do not need the corner stores to sell liquor -

  • Al
    January 18, 2010 - 10:51

    Perhaps the NS government should control the sale of their other cash cow as well. Can you imagine the NSCC Nova Scotia Cigarteet Comission?

  • Troy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:50

    If you think the Government is going to relinkwish 2 cents of their profit from liquor sales to a corner store when they already have it all now,,,you are crazy,,,I'd bet it all that it will never happen down there in Nova Scotia,,,but I guess its a good conversation piece.

  • George
    January 18, 2010 - 10:38

    God help us if Nova Scotia actually takes a step forward and allows the sales of a legal product in ordinary stores. Imagine the convenience for people living outside of cities! What is really scary is that salespersons paid the minimum wage would be selling (gasp) alcohol, instead of overpaid unionized government workers.
    Lets stick with our 19th century mentality, and keep our sacred liquor stores. Lets keep wine, beer and spirits as expensive as possible thanks to expensive labour and special liquor stores.

  • Don
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    How can making liquor more available be a good thing? Nobody seems to care about the evils this product brings, just how can we sell more ? It's a huge double standard that we have booze shoved in our face everywhere we go, yet smoke one joint & you become a criminal.

  • Robert
    January 18, 2010 - 10:32

    I'm not surprised the NSGEU and the empire building, over priced liquor corp would oppose liquor sales in convenience stores. Heaven forbide it should province CONVENIENCE and a bit of a windfall to people like Mr. LeBlanc. For those store owners who don't/want need liquor sales, they should also be free to make that choice. There's a concept for you, a business owner free to run thier own business as they choose...wachy idea but it just might work!

  • Huge
    January 18, 2010 - 10:32

    There shouldn't be an NSLC in the first place. Sale of goods should be through the private sector.

    You wouldn't go to a government store to buy a washing machine or a pair of jeans,,, why should the government be in this business?

    They want their slice of the taxes, so be it, but eliminate this layer of waste......