Liquor store outlet, pot shop say they’re seeing a boost amid LCBO strike | CBC News

An LCBO outlet that remains open in Stoney Point and a Windsor cannabis shop say they are seeing an uptick in business due to the ongoing LCBO strike, which has shuttered most major liquor storefronts.

Jayss Patel and Viran Patel both work at the Stoney Point Mini Mart, which has an LCBO and a Beer Store outlet.

While the Beer Store, Wine Rack and local producers remain open, the mini mart is one of the few places in the Windsor-Essex area still selling spirits after LCBO employees at hundreds of locations walked off the job on July 5.

Both Jayss and Viran say they’ve seen customers come to the mini mart from as far as Windsor and Sarnia in search of their favourite drinks.

“It’s crazy,” Jayss said of the uptick in business. Before the strike, the mini mart saw about 200 or 300 customers a day. That number has jumped to about 500, according to Jayss and Viran.

“It’s good for us, but we hope for negotiation between the LCBO union and the government to solve the problem,” said Jayss.

The strike has also meant less product is coming in with each shipment, however. When trying to order more booze for the store, Jayss said only 100 different products were available to get from the supplier, as opposed to the usual 800 or so.

Two men stand behind the desk of a convenience store. On a white piece of printer paper is a printed sign that says "Open for selling liquor and beer during the strike. Regular hours."
Both Jayss Patel (right) and Viran Patel (left) say they’ve seen customers come to the Stoney Point Mini Mart where they work from as far as Windsor and Sarnia in search of their favourite drinks. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Viran isn’t sure how long supplies will last — especially as ready-to-drink coolers have been in particularly high demand.

“If the supply is enough, we will supply to the community,” said Viran.

Joe Taranto stopped by the mini mart on his way home from work. He says he’s not particular about which LCBO location he stops in as his job takes him all around the area, but he was glad the Stoney Point location was open to stop at.

“The one benefit about doing this is the fact that I do live in Windsor, so everywhere around me it is closed. This does give me the opportunity to go and [get] it.”

Some customers have turned to beverages of a different kind, too. Peter Maxwell, manager of The We Store Cannabis in Walkerville, says the store has seen a 10 to 15 per cent increase in the number of cannabis beverages sold.

“We were already one of the leading stores for beverage sales in Ontario, so that is actually a substantial increase,” said Maxwell.

A picket sign leaned against the fence that surrounds the LCBO's London Logistics Facility on Monday, just metres away from striking workers.
The union representing workers believes Premier Doug Ford’s plan to allow alcohol sales in corner stores poses an existential threat to the LCBO that will lead to major job losses. (Alessio Donnini/CBC News)

While Maxwell acknowledges that drinking and consuming cannabis are different experiences, he says the strike could still be a good opportunity for people to give weed a try.

“I think it is a good opportunity for people to come in, I think they will be looking for alternatives, especially the longer the strike goes on,” said Maxwell.

Some 9,000 LCBO employees remain off the job, and with no talks planned, no end to the strike is in sight.

The introduction of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages at corner stores was a major sticking point in conversations between the Ford government and the union representing LCBO workers.

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