Yes it's true. Lovers of fine crafted beer who live in the Regal Heights area of St. Clair will no longer have a short walk to "bag back" their wine bottles, or replenish their fridges with their favourite brews. The Beer Store closed its location at 1083 St Clair (near Dufferin) at the end of 2006, despite having completely renovated the store earlier in the year.
Why the sudden change of business plan after such an investment? Catherine Turchyn, District Manager, GTA West, stated in an e-mail that, "...our reason for closing this store is strictly due to this location no longer meeting the operational needs of the business, which means that we have difficulty meeting the needs of our customers."
She goes on to state: "Over the last several years we have conducted an extensive search for a new location in this general area, but nothing providing the space we need, or the parking we want to provide to our customers has been found."
This jives with a rumour a Beer Store employee passed on to me only last week. When I asked him if the requirement to bag back wine bottles was what killed the St. Clair Beer Store he replied, "No, it's that street car thing. They're going to lose some parking." He declined to give his name for this article since it is, after all, just a Beer Store employee rumour.
The Beer Store, a corporation owned by Molsons, Labatts and Sleemans, prefers the model of big central locations that they expect their customers to travel to in cars. Maybe it's time for a new model, one that ends the Beer Store's near monopoly on beer distribution. Pehaps it's time for the provincial government to change the law and allow small brewers to open up storefront outlets that we can walk to.
After all, if Kittling Ridge can sell wine from a kiosk in Sobeys on Dupont, why shouldn't Steam Whistle be allowed to sell their brew from a small shop on St. Clair? It's the only way we'll get ANY beer store back on St. Clair.
Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are not those of MyStClair.com or NaberNet.