Thompson Liquor Mart sells nearly 800 bottles of Westminster sherry in less than five business days

Over 1,300 bottles on hand at 5 p.m. Jan 7, 800 more than any other Manitoba store that carries it

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries (MBLL) was criticized in a recent CBC article for its sales of low-priced sherry at an Ellice Avenue Liquor Mart in Winnipeg, but it’s possible the store in Thompson may sell even more of the $10 booze.

From 2015 to 2017, the Liquor Mart at Ellice Avenue and Hargrave Street in Winnipeg sold 103,533 bottles of London Westminster Canadian Apera– priced at $9.64 (after going up from a price of $9.37 the previous week) for 750 millilitres, with 20 per cent alcohol. It is kept just steps from the till there, CBC said. But on Jan. 3, a product search on the Liquor Mart website showed that the Thompson store had more than 2,000 bottles, and they are kept behind the till here, so buyers have to ask for them. By Jan. 7 at 5 p.m., there were only 1,373, with 121 bottles having been sold in seven hours of business that day. The Ellice Avenue store had the second-highest number of bottles in stock in the province as of 5 p.m. Jan 7, with 523 bottles.

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An inquiry to MBLL regarding how many bottles of London Westminster are sold per year at the Thompson Liquor Mart has not been answered yet, but Thompson Recycling Centre manager Billie-Joe Thompson said the facility processed 13,500 bottles from April 1, 2017 to March 31 of last year, and 8,700 from April 1 of last year until now. MBLL provides $2,000 annually towards the bottle return program, which pays out 10 cents for each bottle, which are accepted in bags of 100.

Thompson community safety officers disposed of nearly 2,200 bottles of liquor and picked up more than 2,000 bottles through the first 11 months of 2018, down 52.2 per cent and 45.4 per cent, respectively, from the previous year, when they disposed of or picked up a total of about 6,500 bottles.

The Thompson Liquor Mart may also refuse more customers for being intoxicated than the Ellice Avenue store – 5,500 in 2015 compared to 4,000 at the Ellice Avenue store in 2017. The Thompson Citizen has asked MBLL for the number from more recent years.

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba spokesperson Jennifer Faulder told the Citizen in an email Jan. 4 that accessibility is only one factor in the addictions puzzle.

“Making one substance more difficult to obtain will not necessarily lead to reduced addiction or problematic substance use,” she said. “Effectively addressing addiction and problematic substance use requires a comprehensive, collaborative, multi-sectoral approach. That is why any strategy to reduce addiction and problematic substance use needs to be part of a broader systemic approach.”

Examples of that approach, said Faulderinclude an Alcohol Strategy developed by the province in 2015 and the more recent Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.

MBLL pulled Kingsgate Reserve Canadian Apera off the shelves of the Thompson Liquor Mart in 2010 – and subsequently out of the store completely – after then-mayor Tim Johnston raised concerns about it being sold. Kingsgate Reserve is also 20 per cent alcohol and sells for $9.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

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