#14 – The worst beer store in Ontario.

I have stopped complaining. Many who know me will be amazed at that statement. This is a specific complaint on which I have relented and abandoned. It is my campaign to have the Anne Street Beer Store in Babel labelled as the Worst Beer Store in Ontario. I decided I might as well give up.

The Beer Store bosses do not care. Provincial politicians are not interested. Babel city councillors only drink VSOP Ontario wines. Why would they give a hoot about a beer store? My campaign of polite letters and e-mails to the headquarters of The Beer Store down in the big smoke has ended. It is a waste of time.

And they were sincere letters. The only thing that might have been slightly tongue-in-cheek was the suggestion that all Ontarions who shop at the more than 400 local beer stores be given a vote. I asked that ballots be distributed at every store and patrons could vote for the store they considered the worst. Of course, I should have realized that anything smacking of democracy would scare The Beer Store bureaucrats.

The Beer Store chain and its owner, Brewers Warehousing Limited, were created by the Ontario government to save us all from the evils of demon rum and other alcoholic beverages such as beer. Along with the monopolistic Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Brewers Warehousing has been controlling the distribution of suds to the province’s beer drinkers since 1927.

What started out as a puritanical effort to control sales of alcoholic beverages has become the biggest slush fund in the province. (Even more than the $2 billion it gets from lotteries and gaming.) We are not talking just a few millions here. The Ontario government, by keeping a stranglehold on beer and liquor sales in Ontario, is reaping billions of dollars in excessive profits. Not everywhere though. The smart Ottawa area resident who drives across a bridge to buy his beer in Quebec can save 25 per cent on a case of beer. Ontario consumers buying a two-four of Labatt Blue at regular price in the Beer Store are paying more than $10 to Queen’s Park just for the privilege.

So, with all that money, you would think that we would have some fairly nice beer stores. No we do not. We can deal with Anne Street in Babel first. That store is dirty, messy, badly run and the part-time staff is ill-trained, slovenly, slow and generally useless. Sometimes when you go in there, you are afraid your boots are going to be permanently stuck to the filthy floor. Customers are often greeted by the sight of the entire incoming rails for empties full of bottles and the floor around it loaded. The staff is often so busy they take your word for what bottles you have added to the piles of returns.

You would think that Babel beer drinkers would know better than to go to the Anne Street store. The problem is that it is the only beer store near to downtown and the waterfront. Sometimes we go to the newer, larger beer stores in the shopping areas in Babel’s north and south ends. These stores are open concept and you get to go find your preferred brand yourself. In summer, you can catch pneumonia in those stores. The problem is that you get lost trying to find a preferred brand. The people who designed those particular stores certainly had no sympathy for the poor Ontario consumer. They saved staff and left the consumer confused and in the cold.

Returning liquor bottles to the Beer Store was also one of the dumbest ideas ever perpetrated by politicians trying to be righteous recyclers. Let’s leave the recycling business to people who are not trying to sell us suds at the same time.

To be fair to our provincial politicians, they have a tiger by the tail with Brewers Warehousing and the LCBO. They can hardly forego all that revenue. There is no question that beer should properly be sold through convenience store and grocery stores. It would be cheaper. And we would certainly get better deals from competitive liquor stores. We would also have to pay billions more in provincial taxes. As the poor maiden was told back in 1927, if you succumb to the temptations of the demon drink, some Lothario is going to have his way with you.

I already know I am getting screwed, I just want it done with a little more class.

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