It’s been a month and a half since new liquor laws kicked in in B.C., and independent wine stores are hurting.
John Clerides with Marquis Wine Sellers in Vancouver’s West End says government stores now being allowed to open on Sundays is taking a toll.
“The first Sunday (that) liquor stores were open, we were down 20% and it’s been pretty consistent ever since.”
He says that could mean layoffs.
While the province has told private wine sellers they can apply to sell beer and spirits in order to stay competitive with government stores, it would mean moving to another location, so they’re not within a kilometre of an existing liquor store.
Clerides says that’s not viable, and despite claims by Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, adds there’s nothing level about this new playing field.
There’s also a growing concern about a new, massive black market for specialty wines.
Clerides says prices have gone up for certain products in B.C., and that means people are bringing things in themselves from Alberta.
“Some collectors and the average consumer. What it is, is death by a thousand cuts. It’s not two people bringing in 20 containers. It’s a thousand people bringing in cases and cases of wine.”
Clerides says he has raised the issue with the ministry, which he says was surprised to hear about his concerns.