A few months ago, among a number of other changes, the provincial government announced that they would be putting "Liquor Mart Express" outlets inside grocery stores around the province.
These outlets would be staffed by separate (Liquor Mart) staff and they would focus on made-in-Manitoba products.
Sounds great -- and they kept saying that Brandon would be in line for at least one of these outlets.
Immediately, of course, there was speculation as to where it would go. The talk of putting them in grocery stores narrows things down, and it was obvious that you wouldn't want to have the new outlets too close to the old outlets.
The west-end Sobeys is a top contender -- far away from other Liquor Marts, and the only grocery store in the west end.
I was also thinking that the small-ish Liquor Mart at the Brandon Shoppers Mall could be complemented by a secondary outlet -- maybe at the Heritage Co-Op on Richmond Avenue, which isn't too close.
Now that I live in the east end, though, it's continually driven home to me how underserved that area of town is. Do you know there's not even a beer vendor east of Fifth Street?
The closest grocery store is Stan's Fine Foods -- which might be a bit too small for an additional Liquor Mart Express outlet, but then I thought of the Shoppers Drug Mart.
It's already got a Canada Post outlet in it, so maybe there isn't room, I thought at first, but then I heard about the Canada Post outlet moving from the Shoppers Mall to the south-end Sobeys, so I guess these things can move.
A Liquor Mart Express at the Shoppers Drug Mart would be right across from the hospital, in case you want to celebrate successful surgery with a bottle of made-in-Manitobahol. It sells a fair bit of a food, and is in fact my go-to "grocery" store if all I need is milk, juice, bread or coffee. So it might fit the bill.
Sadly, though, I learned Monday that the Liquor Mart Express outlets will be placed at least two kilometres away from already-existing Liquor Marts. And, I think the 10th Street location is a tad too close for that.
Two kilometres, eh? I decided to draw a map:
The red dots are the currently-existing Liquor Marts -- one at the Corral Centre, one at the Brandon Shoppers Mall, and one at 10th Street and Victoria Avenue. I've put a two-kilometre-radius "red zone" around each of them
The yellow dots are every beer vendor that I could think of. If I've missed one, let me know.
The green dots are all the city's major grocery stores -- both Sobeys locations (although not the cash-and-carry), both Safeway locations, the Heritage Co-Op and Superstore. Upon reflection, I decided that Stan's -- although a city favourite every holiday evening -- was probably too small to shoehorn in a Liquor Mart Express outlet.
Also, I decided not to map out the Shoppers Drug Mart that I waxed on about earlier, since then I would have had to map out every other drug store.
Anyway, the map above makes it clear that there are few areas of Brandon that aren't within two klometres of a Liquor Mart already:
- The extreme east end isn't covered, but a lot of that area is fairly industrial.
- The extreme north end isn't covered, but this is primarily highway. I wouldn't rule out a Liquor Mart Express along the highway, but that wouldn't be for Brandon residents, it would have to be to capture drive-by traffic. Also, I can't think of a great building to put it in. Maybe it could go in with a hotel, but that's outside of the scope of what the province has said. Although, there is going to be one in Winnipeg's new airport, so you never know.
- The extreme west end. And here is the great big bingo, because it also comes with a convenient west-end Sobeys store. One with plenty of vacant space to expand into, if you wanted, where Zellers used to be.
Of course, there's already a nearby beer vendor, but I don't think that factors into location decisions.
And, although the west end demographics aren't what they used to be, it still has a certain Brandon cachet -- precisely what Winnipeg bureaucrats will be looking for as they set up a shop that will feature local (read: sorta premium) booze.
So my prediction is that Brandon will get a Liquor Mart Express outlet at the west-end Sobeys. It's the only place that makes sense. Unless IGA goes and opens up in the Value Village again.
But after this -- man, I'd like to see something in the east. Maybe put it in the water tower?