PCs float grocery/corner store booze sales

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Diane Campbell

AMHERST – A suggestion from a regional politician that beer and wine could be sold in convenience stores and grocer stores is receiving some support in Amherst.

Jamie Baillie, MLA for Cumberland South and leader of the provincial PCs, announced the release Thursday of a discussion paper on the province’s liquor laws. He’s asked for Nova Scotians to provide feedback.

“The way we sell beer and wine is outdated and it’s time we look at modern ways to serve customers and create jobs,” said Baillie.

The Progressive Conservatives claimed the sale of beer and wine could help stores in rural areas and provide jobs.

Diane Campbell owns two Ken’s Rite Stop locations, in Amherst and Parrsboro.

“It’s about time,” said Campbell.

She doesn’t anticipate sales of alcoholic beverages would be a big moneymaker – the margins are small, she said – but it’s an important convenience for customers, especially tourists.

This is particularly the case in Parrsboro, according to Campbell, where tourists on holiday would like access to beer and wine outside NSLC hours.

The owner said retailers have been asking for the right to sell the products for a long time, but she thinks Nova Scotia tends to lag behind when it comes to changes of that nature.

“I don’t think so,” she answered when asked if it would lead to more underage drinking.

One challenge for retailers, she mentioned, would be ensuring staff were old enough to sell the drinks. But it’s her understanding about 50 retailers in Nova Scotia were already allowed to sell booze as a test, and she thinks she would have heard something if the result had been negative for private sales. She said she should be allowed to sell beer and wine too, to level the playing field.

The owner of Highland Market, Roddy Wood, said he wouldn’t stock beer and wine. He expressed the view it might be a draw for burglars and said he’s not currently equipped with coolers for it.

“I’m not interested,” he said.

But he acknowledged some of his fellow shop owners might be.

“A lot of stores could really use it…”

Bob Smith at West Victoria Variety didn’t want to offer an opinion on the subject, but granted he’d favour the idea.

“Yeah, anything to bring income in,” he said.

Customers have opinions, too. Catherine Carmichael is a Joggins resident in her late 20s. She’s a retail supervisor in Amherst, but not at a convenience store. She estimated her household purchases about 24 bottles of beer per week. She favoured the idea of being able to purchase those bottles at corner stores.

“Yeah, I do, it would be more convenient…,” said Carmichael.

A woman making a purchase from Carmichael didn’t want to be quoted for the paper, but voiced her opposition: Corner stores are where children go to buy candy, not beer.

esparling@amherstdaily.com

Twitter: @ADNsparling

Organizations: Progressive Conservatives, Highland Market

Geographic location: AMHERST, Parrsboro, Cumberland South Nova Scotia Joggins

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