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Sep 29, 2013 03:27 PM

Moving sideways from privatization of the LCBO

That was an excellent thread.

However, I'm disappointed that "The Beer Store" got a free pass.

There is one total disaster. If you're unaware, all beer sales were controlled by various Ontario brewers which slowly devolved into control by U.S., Belgian and Japanese interests. (Brewers can still sell on-site at their brewery.)

The offerings don't vary much wherever you are and Mom and Pop could offer a full selection.

Once you get out of any city of any size you will see firsthand where privatization gets you. This past season saw a mandated cutback of staff hours in my store. One person is most often the only one taking returns and orders.

In my municipality pickups outnumber cars by a couple of magnitudes. Most of our pickups have never seen a farm yard or construction site. They sit on the driveway and once every few months, Lady says to Bubba, "Get those empties out of the garage!" and I end up in line behind several truckloads of bottles.

The service model is abhorrent.

What prevents total collapse is the wonderful staff serving me who have to deal with this - we are a small and cohesive community.

TBS can leave my life at any time. It's an impostion we don't need.

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  1. So privatize it and sell beer at corner stores and super markets... then when you are going to pick up that bag of milk... you got buddy with his pickup full of empties lugging them into your corner store... but wait.. where do they store them? well guess they will have to cut back on the brands that they offer so the have more storage for beer..

    Or keep beer stores just for returns.. then watch the return rate move for like 98% down to 50%.. because no one wants to make a special trip to a different location..

    If you have returns and hicks with pickups your issue will not go away.. guess you could get rid of the returns.. and just toss the empties away... and ruin the environment..

    2 Replies
    1. re: pourboi

      Recycling/Returns under a privatized system wouldn't be that much of an issue.

      For every one Beer Store or LCBO you take out - which serves hundred if not thousands of people on it's own, you have a number of mom and pop shops serving those same people. You dilute both the volume that each small retailer sells as well as the subsequent amount of returns. And most likely this cuts your wait time down substantially.

      In the city, many people put their bottles/cans out with the recycling and they're snatched up by collectors within minutes. Taking them back to a convenience store (like I said earlier) is probably going to be more convenient than it was taking them to the beer store (closest one to me is a 10 minute drive if there's no traffic) anyway.

      In the sticks, you could also have the option of taking them to the dump and having the total removed from your bill.

      There are no problems with regards to recycling at all, it works all over the world quite well. The real problem in Ontario is that we're being robbed through liquor taxes and duped into thinking that the current system is the best one for us.

      1. re: pourboi

        Toronto is falling apart from overpopulation and overdevelopment that has created staggering noise, pollution, congestion, trash, energy consumption etc etc and you're ranting about people returning their beer bottles? Unbelievable.

      2. Depanneurs in Quebec seem to be able to deal with the empties and the milk.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hal2010

          convenience stores in quebec are also stocked with less knick knacks and junk that nobody buys

          1. re: fatpersonpersony

            You know what I like? It is how you can go to my local corner store and get a wider assortment of high end food items at lower prices then you can get at those large grocery stores.. All the best cheeses and pates from all over the world on every corner.

            So I am sure if these same corner stores get the chance they will sell an amazing assortment of Beer & Liquor more variety and at a much lower cost just like they do now with gourmet foods.. There is no way that they would just sell the most popular at a higher price than we are paying now..

            1. re: pourboi

              man, i've been having a hard time finding decent cheese in toronto since my move from toronto. i must have been going to the wrong 711 ;)

        2. Amazing what a beating this and the LCBO dead horse can endure from the privateers. Same issues, same splenetic rants. ZZZzzzz.

          1. Looks like privatization is never going to happen, not under the Liberals anyway.

            At least empty wine and liquor bottles should be also be accepted at the LCBO. I mainly drink wine so why should I have to travel to two locations to dispose of my empties and then go to another one to buy more wine? Most of the time there is not a beer store beside an LCBO.

            As for foreign interests owning and having a virtual monopoly on beer sales in Ontario through The Beer Store, I am shocked that the government lets this continue.

            16 Replies
            1. re: Flexitarian

              While this is not the place for political discussions, I have to protest the 'not under the Liberals' comment.
              The Conservatives (TWICE in consecutive elections) under Mike Harris promised to privatize and did nothing!

              The Liberals DID (at least) bring in BYOW and 'take the unfinished bottle home' options.

              The current economy won't support the costs of Privatization (the LCBO/AGCO have sold off most of the stores that were owned - a deliberate strategy), as most stores are leased, so the cancellation costs would be huge.

              1. re: estufarian

                Oh I didn't know that re the Conny's

                Inviting private companies to tender on taking over the leases would solve the problem. Or close them as the leases expire once privatization starts happening.

              2. re: Flexitarian

                10 years ago, the McGuinty government invited LCBO and The Beer Store to bid on bottle returns. The Beer Store won, and ramped up staffing to handle the demand. It's worth noting that they paid employees more than LCBO did at that time. (Ironic, because the Beer Store employees never knew their product, and offered less variety of beer than the LCBO).

                The LCBO employees certainly earn enough to take returns, but that won't happen. They also earn enough to know all of their products, but rarely deliver on that.

                Privatized stores would at least allow a few knowledgeable stores similar to Sherry Lehmann or Astor, to compete for our business.

                Here is a browse-worthy link,

                1. re: jayt90

                  I always love that the privatization hawks always float the scenario that every privatized liquor store would be like the best liquor store in a market 4+ times the size of Toronto. Guess what, we might, if we are lucky get one store that good, and the rest? Visit a Real Canadian Liquor Store (run by Lobalws) in Alberta sometime and tell me how you like it, because that's closer to reality.

                  1. re: bytepusher

                    The largest wine merchant in the U.S. is Costco. Imagine how they could upset the market with discounted quality wines in small cities such as Peterborough or Kingston, when it comes to pass.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      BTW have you seen the wine selection in Kingston?

                    2. re: bytepusher

                      Assuming it will be the same as Alberta is faulty logic

                      1. re: Flexitarian

                        Assuming it will all be the same as top top tier stores in larger markets like NYC and London is also faulty logic.

                        1. re: bytepusher

                          Exactly. So, one need not narrow ones thinking by assuming that what has happened in other markets, good or bad, will dictate what happens here.

                          1. re: Flexitarian

                            Sure. However, we are letting the bureaucrats, politicians and bean counters handle our marketing.

                          2. re: bytepusher

                            We have top tier stores such as Summerhill, but with no competition they have very high prices, a cattle car rush on release dates, harried staff, and high rent / fancy decor subsidized by all taxpayers from Windsor to Moosonee.

                            I prefer the Astor Place /Costco model, but there is no choice other than LCBO.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              And the Toronto taxpayers subsidise the price of shipping booze to remote areas so that they get the same price as we do in Toronto. And can get any of the same products that are avialable in major centers.

                              1. re: jayt90

                                Partly based on the fasle premise that Ontario liquor prices are what they are because of the LCBO and not because of Federal and Provincial excise taxation.

                                This is the second big exaggeration promoted by privatization hawks, that prices would go down.

                                1. re: bytepusher

                                  even if they didn't go down, it is insane that beer and wine isn't sold at grocery and convenience stores.

                                  1. re: bytepusher

                                    While I agree that prices may not go down, the premise you refer to is NOT false.
                                    The 'taxes' (generically) are mostly Provincial; Federal taxes (duties and excise) are very small compared to Provinciall 'levies' (this was covered in the original thread). The federal charges are volume/alcohol level based and essentially identical for each product category (e.g. may be $2 per bottle regardless of F.O.B. cost) whereas the Provincial levies are percentage of costs - and can easily be over 100% of the cost - which includes the Federal taxes i.e. almost certainly exceed the Fed 'take'.

                                    Plus the Province controls the entire listing process, so entry of 'new' competition is limited.

                            2. re: bytepusher

                              Privatization in Alberta led to immediate treks to BC for purchases due to many reasons such as pricing, lack of product choice, etc., and that was ok only for the few near the border!

                        2. i now love the beer store having discovered a few american brands that i've never seen in canada before at the dufferin mall location.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: frogsteak

                            That could happen if Canadian companies owned The Beer Store too.