Some years ago a local controversy brewed as Westville felt it was being relegated to second-class status. It looked like it might not get a cold-beer section in its new liquor store.
Well, as of Jan. 27, Trenton will be reduced to third class – no NSLC at all.
The reason given by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is a slump in sales in recent years – an understandable business decision. Also, the building is in need of substantial renovations.
Considering the nearest alternative is west side New Glasgow, the loss would appear no big deal for someone with a car or doing regular errands in one of the other towns. But what about the senior, or anyone who doesn’t have a vehicle? In fact, what about convenience?
Private retailers generally make decisions based on how they can reach more customers. Government-sanctioned monopolies, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about that, making such decisions a slam-dunk.
Nova Scotians are still awaiting the outcome of a move by the corporation last week to shut down on-premises brewing services at U-Vint operations – yet another example of the propped-up power of this provincial body.
A serious review of this anachronistic approach to alcohol sales is long overdue. This market, like any other, should be about providing good selection and serving customers.
Take a look at how it’s done in Alberta, where liquor stores are run by the private sector. Take a look at Quebec and Newfoundland where beer and wine sales are available in corner stores – a feature that could mean a huge boost for these stores. In addition, people in smaller communities can make a purchase close to home rather than being forced to drive to the next town. Nobody’s second class.
Study these other models, see what works well and what doesn’t.
Keep in mind, too, the province still reaps the revenues – from the huge tax markups on alcohol. But bringing in the private sector would at least spread the benefit of the retail aspect of sales.