by Matthew Uhrig
Press staff

WINCHESTER – The village’s Foodland outlet has been included in the provincial government’s latest rollout of beer and cider sales in grocery stores throughout Ontario.

While the official announcement came last week, store manager Dan Pettigrew told the Winchester Press a day after the Tues., May 9 unveiling that the application process began nearly a year ago.

Winchester’s Foodland was one of the 76 selected from a competitive bidding process overseen by the Liquour Control Board of Ontario.

“This is an astronomically huge announcement for us,” Pettigrew said.

The latest batch of stores approved includes 11 independent shops, and 65 chain stores. They join the nearly 130 locations provincewide already selling beer and cider, with about 70 of those outlets also selling wine.

Foodland’s deadline to start selling is Fri., June 30, which will lead the store into the Canada Day long weekend.

This means architectural changes are required at the Main Street store that opened in November 2016. By law, grocers selling beer and cider must have designated sales areas, operate within standard hours of sale, abide by limitations on package size and alcohol content, and train staff to sell the products.

What this really means is the store will be limited to selling six packs of beer and cider only. As well, while Foodland’s 24-hour schedule will remain, alcohol sales will only take place between 9 am and 11 pm Monday to Saturday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Sundays.

Pettigrew said designs are currently being drawn up that will see a change to the store’s interior footprint in order to add up to 16 more coolers.

“We can fit this within the current footprint of the store… We’re able to relocate all products, and we won’t be losing any items. I know that will be a huge concern for some people,” he said.

As well, a minimum of 25 per cent of the alcohol products sold at the store must be craft beer, which is a burgeoning market throughout Ontario.

Though wine isn’t part of the current rollout, Pettigrew noted that an application has been submitted, and he’s hopeful that within a year it will be approved.

No matter, the ability to sell beer and cider is a big “get” for the store, he added.

“This means completing our overall plan to have a complete shopping experience in one location,” Pettigrew said.

Vankleek Hill’s Foodland store has also been approved for alcohol sales, while Russell’s Foodland recently reopened with its licence greenlit.