Canada: Grocers in Kelowna use different models to sell alcohol
More Kelowna grocery stores are getting into selling wine, beer and liquor.
Safeway has opened a private liquor store in Central Park, the same mall where Home Depot is located.
The standalone liquor store is a block-and-a-half from the closest Safeway grocery store in Dilworth Centre.
As well, the Your Independent Grocer in Capri Centre Mall will start selling B.C. wines sometime before Christmas.
These two additions come after the Save-On-Foods stores at Orchard Plaza and in the Mission started selling B.C. wines earlier this year.
The path to grocery stores selling wine hasn’t been easy or straightforward.
After the province revamped liquor laws last year, one of the top priorities was to allow grocery stores to sell wine, beer and liquor.
The first phase of that change was to allow for standalone VQA B.C. wine stores to sell their licences to grocery stores if they wanted to.
If a VQA store sold its licence, it had to close down.
In Kelowna, that meant Discover Wines in Orchard Plaza sold its licence to Overwaitea Food Group, which started selling B.C. wines at its Save-On-Foods location at the other end of the mall.
The wine section is a true department of the grocery store. People can sample wines, put purchases in their cart with other groceries and pay for it all at the regular checkout.
The Kelowna Wine Museum downtown also sold its licence to Overwaitea, so a B.C. wines section could open in the Mission Save-On-Foods.
The recent opening of Safeway Liquor at Central Park is a departure from that model.
Safeway’s liquor store isn’t in, or even beside, the nearest Safeway grocery store in Dilworth Centre.
Safeway took over the location, which had been operating as Liquor Town. Safeway Liquor is simply a private liquor store carrying the name of a grocery store.
Safeway hopes brand recognition will help drive traffic to the new liquor store and shoppers will enjoy collecting Air Miles, just as they do on their grocery purchases.
As a full private store, the new Safeway Liquor isn’t limited to selling only B.C. VQA wines. It’s selling VQA wines, bottled-in-B.C. wines, international wines, and all kinds of beer, cider and hard liquor.
Safeway was prevented from opening a liquor store beside its Dilworth location because provincial law doesn’t allow a new store within a kilometre of an existing store. There’s already a Liquor Depot store in Dilworth Centre.
The Safeway Liquor store is so new that renovations are ongoing as the doors remain open and a temporary Safeway Liquor banner sign is in place before a permanent sign is mounted.
Safeway’s parent company, Sobeys, is getting into the private liquor store business in a big way in Western Canada with 66 Sobeys Liquor locations, 13 Safeway Liquor locations and six Thrifty Foods Liquor locations.
The only other Safeway Liquor in B.C. is in Fort St. John.
There’s also a Sobeys Liquor in Dawson Creek and a Thrifty Foods Liquor in Coquitlam.
After the province allowed B.C. VQA wine stores to sell their licences to grocery stores, it came up with an auction process to allow grocery stores to bid on special wine-store licences.
In the first round, Loblaw secured six licences.
Loblaw is the parent company of Real Canadian Superstore and Your Independent Grocer.
The Your Independent Grocer expects to have B.C. wines on its shelves at the store in Capri Centre Mall by Christmas.
In addition to B.C. wine, the special wine-store licence allows grocery stores to also sell B.C. cider, sake and mead (honey wine).
Loblaw has also applied for another of the special wine licences for the Real Canadian Superstore at Highway 97 and Baron Road.
The timing for that opening hasn’t been set yet.
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