Booze Super Store a good idea until ...
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 7, 2009)
The latest Molotov cocktail thrown at the Ontario public was the threat of an LCBO strike a couple of weeks ago that thankfully ended with a new collective agreement. However, not before Joe and Jane Drinker was made to stand in line for 30 minutes during a New Year's Eve-style rush to get booze before a threatened strike, thus affording the LCBO a record for the biggest one-day sales in its history.
The LCBO workers said they were not happy 60 per cent of employees were part time and only 40 per cent full time. Their radio commercial that aired on News/Talk 900 CHML featured a clip of Premier Dalton McGuinty saying he was going to create "good jobs." "Then why isn't he creating good jobs at the LCBO?" they asked.
I'm guessing because taking what would normally be minimum-wage retail jobs in the private sector and increasing the cost to the taxpayer by making them full time, isn't creating a "good job." It's bad money management. It's an inefficient use of taxpayers' dollars as the 60/40 part-time/full-time split is common in private-sector retail.
I had Tom Cooper (freelance writer for The Spec) on the Scott Thompson Show, and we debated this issue. Tom took the side of the part-time employees and said, "Everyone deserves benefits, especially medical." It was then I started to see his point.
So how can we give the LCBO employee a better shake? Truth is we can't as it would cost too much, and I would rather see the mountain of money we pay in booze tax go to education, health and infrastructure, not to part-time employees. I'm not sure privatization is the way to go either.
So I came up with a brilliant idea that would solve the employee issue, make life easier for the customer (remember the customer?) and even help the environment.
The answer to all of this is to combine the liquor and beer stores into one outlet, as in cottage country, except make them one large booze super store. Beer in one isle, then spirits, wine, coolers and so on. It would be like going into a Home Depot of Hooch or a Wal-Mart of Wine. The Beer Store, a monopoly too, is not even Canadian owned anymore since Molson, Labatt and Sleeman (majority owners) were bought by foreign companies. Why keep it? Sell all beer product from the new LCBO!
This provides one efficient system, saving infrastructure costs, instead of having two outlets that are usually a few blocks apart. No more, "just far enough you can't walk, but close enough to waste more gas," not to mention the time and inconvenience.
As well as reducing drinkers' carbon footprint with one-stop shopping, we could streamline the bottle-return-recycling system which sees all bottles go The Beer Store, even those bought at the liquor store a drive away.
The only sad part is we won't need as many employees with this efficient system, but those who do stay will get the treatment they ask for. Not sure the union is going to like this since it survives on continually trying to increase its membership and incoming dues to pay its bills, not shrinking the rank and file.
Whoops. What am I thinking? If we combine the two stores and they go on strike we get nothing!
The liquor store already sells beer. So what's the purpose of The Beer Store? I guess in case the LCBO goes on strike!
Never mind. Let's just continue paying through the nose into two monopolies ... It's not worth the chance!
The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays 4 to 7 p.m. on News/Talk 900 CHML. Visit his website at ScottThompsonTalk.com.