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New liquor laws could slow border beer-runs

As the new law allowing grocery stores in British Columbia to sell liquor gets closer and closer to reality, there is no point in wasting time complaining about it. We can however, focus on how this could help the economy of the local stores in our community and in our province.

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By Jeremy Hannaford (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: February 19, 2014

(Image:  Waqcku/ wikipedia)

(Image: Waqcku/ wikipedia)

As the new law allowing grocery stores in British Columbia to sell liquor gets closer and closer to reality, there is no point in wasting time complaining about it. We can however, focus on how this could help the economy of the local stores in our community and in our province.

We are all aware many Canadians go to the U.S. for cheaper items: food, online purchase package pick-up, clothing, and of course — liquor. A bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey is 40 bucks up here, while it costs just over 20 across the line. Even with the currency exchange rates factored in, American liquor is a lot cheaper. So what will change when B.C. grocery stores start selling liquor? I’d say a lot if it works out properly.

Many people value convenience over savings, so the ability to purchase beer and liquor at the same location as their regular groceries will be a welcome change for them.

I work at Safeway in Aldergrove and have seen almost everything imaginable. Hysterical complainaners, drunk customers, and shoplifters for example. So naturally my first thought about the new laws was: great — now teenagers are going to start stealing the booze.

However, I have looked into it a little further since then. Firstly, grocery stores will be required to apply for a liquor license and adhere to specific guidelines to make these sales work. They will not be allowed to interfere with nearby government liquor stores, and they will need to make adjustments in their stores for the new product. A new section in stores will be created to suit liquor sales, including a separate cash register and attendee. They may also follow the protocol of other grocery stores, such as Safeway in Seattle, who, for security purposes, lock up their liquor.

I also spoke with several undercover security guards who admitted there may be more attention generated towards this new section in stores, so due to the increased need for protection and security for staff and customers throughout the regular workday, security jobs will be in high demand.

The only negative side-effect I foresee is the impact it may have on privately owned liquor stores such as The Fox & Hound in Aldergrove, or the liquor store on Mount Lehman road. These places might run out of business much like many of the liquor stores from Lynden to Seattle, which were closed within a year of the same laws passing in the USA.

If this bill is handled correctly, it could give a small boost to the local economy and maybe stop some Canadians from going over the border for beer.

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