6 more B.C. grocery stores will be able to sell wine

Wine bottles on store shelves/Shutterstock

There will soon be six more licences up for grabs for lucky B.C. grocery stores to sell wine.

The B.C. government announced Thursday that they will be holding a round of six auctions for the licences in April. The auctions are open to eligible stores who meet the province’s strict criteria for selling wine at a supermarket.


SEE ALSO: Lottery will determine which B.C. grocery stores can sell liquor

In order to enter the auction pool, grocery stores will be pre-screened to ensure they meet the qualifications, which are that they:

• Be primarily engaged in retailing a general line of foods, including canned, dry and frozen food, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and prepared meats, fish and poultry, dairy products, baked products and snack foods, and non-liquor juices, carbonated beverages and flavoured beverages.
• Have an area of at least 929 square metres (approximately 10,000 square feet), including storage space.
• Not already be the site of an existing or proposed licensee retail store, wine store or BCLiquor Store (i.e. Liquor Distribution Branch store).

All stores who wish to enter the auctions must put in a $25,000 deposit; those who do not “win” the auctions will be refunded.

Sorry, convenience stores and “multipurpose” stores…you don’t qualify, period.

BC Liquor Store Liquor Laws Grocery Stores

SEE ALSO: Only 2 of 53 grocery stores in Vancouver eligible to sell liquor

What doesn’t factor for these “Special Wine Store” licences is geography:

Your proposed grocery store site may be located anywhere in the province. There are no geographic restrictions on the locations of Special Wine Stores, and there are no other provincial restrictions on the proximity of your proposed site to other liquor retailers, public or private, whether they are standalone or are located in grocery stores.

Once a store gets the licence, they can sell 100% B.C. wine, cider, and sake right off their shelves…sort of. Those shelves have to be segregated into their own area that can be shut down during the hours liquor cannot be sold, and excess stock stored securely. Any in-store tastings have to be done in an area within or adjacent to the liquor sales area, and can only involve product for sale at the store.

To stay eligible, the stores can’t sell too much wine, though. Food and non-liquor beverage sales revenue must account for “at least 70% of the total non-liquor sales revenue each year” and “over 50% of the total sales revenue each year.”

While B.C. will have these six licences up for auction this spring, they ultimately hope to have 12 additional licences auctioned off to eligible stores in the following months or years, (“at a later date,” the news release adds vaguely). If a store “loses” in an auction round, they have to re-apply for subsequent rounds.

Save-on-Foods’ South Surrey store was the first grocery store in B.C. to make wine available on their shelves. There are now a few other stores in the Metro Vancouver area that allow the sales, however in December 2015, the City of Vancouver voted against allowing grocery store liquor sales. Proponents of the “no” vote believe there is adequate access to liquor in Vancouver, and, of course, we don’t need alcohol to have a good time.

And so the B.C. government continues to slowly chip away at the recommendations outlined in the B.C. Liquor Policy Review Final Report.


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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com

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