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Eat & Drink

The LCBO launches urban concept store

Posted by Derek Flack / July 11, 2014

New LCBO designThe LCBO is trying out a new look for some of its high density urban locations, the first of which has recently opened in the Beaches at 1986 Queen St. East. The new "urban concept store" is a bit like the Beer Store's Boutique location, where greater attention is paid to the design and layout of the store. It won't make the wine taste any better, but it might make wandering aimlessly reading labels a bit more enjoyable of an experience.

Key to these stores is the Vintages section, which is designed predominantly as a runway rather than the shelving systems used at most current LCBOs. Aside from the layout being prettier, this new design gives the section greater prominence. I suspect for more than a few wine buyers, the fact that the Vintages section is often tucked away at the back of the store is just a reason used to avoid it altogether. The beer section at this particular location is also larger, but what should be of more interest is the fact these stores carry a larger percentage of premium products, so the craft beer selection is better.

LCBO concept storeLCBO concept storeLCBO concept storeLCBO concept storelcbo concept storeLCBO concept storeWhat do you think? Is this a better design for the LCBO?

Store design by II BY IV DESIGN / Photos by David Whittaker Photography



Ravi / July 11, 2014 at 10:25 am
One thing I liked about this new setup is there is a dedicated fridge for Ciders that is separate from the beer.

One thing I didn't like is that some of my favourite cheap wines ($7-$9 range) were not available.
Earl replying to a comment from herman menderchuck / July 11, 2014 at 10:37 am
You can only pull so many feathers off a chicken before it starts to squawk.
Shannon / July 11, 2014 at 10:37 am
I'll have to visit this location!
Jamie / July 11, 2014 at 10:39 am
It looks like the cosmetic section in shopper drugmart.
EC / July 11, 2014 at 10:42 am
I like the B in the spruced up logo.
Rennie / July 11, 2014 at 10:44 am
I don't get why some dislike the LCBO. Its clean, fair priced, safe, totally unsketchy.
Kevin replying to a comment from Rick / July 11, 2014 at 10:46 am
Clearly, you looked at the pictures and jumped straight to the comments section...

Marc replying to a comment from herman menderchuck / July 11, 2014 at 10:48 am
Oh please, the LCBO is not a turd.

Most provinces with cornerstore wine/beer have shit wine/beer for sale.

Take it easy.
1 replying to a comment from Rennie / July 11, 2014 at 10:48 am
I dislike it because it has a poor beer selection compared to what I'm used to.
905-er / July 11, 2014 at 10:50 am
People have nothing nice to say anymore, I think it looks great!
Clay / July 11, 2014 at 10:55 am
Nice Re-Brand of the store.
BevMo / July 11, 2014 at 10:57 am
Here's a concept. Let other stores sell liquor and spirits. What an idea.
steve replying to a comment from BevMo / July 11, 2014 at 10:59 am
Josh / July 11, 2014 at 11:04 am
I'd like to know how much more this store costs compared to a regular LCBO - and how much more we're going to have to pay for liquor in order to pay for stores like this.
KevinN replying to a comment from Rick / July 11, 2014 at 11:26 am
Rick maybe you should read:

"The beer section at this particular location is also LARGER, but what should be of more interest is the fact these stores carry a larger percentage of PREMIUM PRODUCTS, so the craft beer selection is better."

"Key to these stores is the Vintages section, which is designed predominantly as a runway rather than the shelving systems used at most current LCBOs."

Moving things around for the purpose of gaining more traffic and attention is obviously something they wanted to target. It is not just a paint job as you describe.

Before replying and spouting off names LOL maybe you should think first.

Hazel / July 11, 2014 at 11:55 am
What's wrong with wandering aimlessly. Quality of life people, quality of life.
1 / July 11, 2014 at 11:57 am
The beer selection may be larger and have a better craft beer selection than the store it replaced, but it isn't better than the larger stores like Summerhill, Queens Quay, Wilson & Dufferin or Eglinton & Laird.
The Shakes / July 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm
I love the LCBO, but seriously could they not organize the wine more logically and stick with one friggin' system? Say a customer wants a bottle of red wine, should he have to walk through the shelves of each friggin wine region and then go to Vintages section and do the same thing in order to see what's available? And is it so hard to have a logical system for the shelves? Just look at the second last picture - you have reds, beside whites, beside pinks, beside some orange shit. How about arranging by varietal, dryness, robustness or price or something that makes some sense?
Brad / July 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Beautiful design - a definite step up for the LCBO!
Ben replying to a comment from Bite Mark / July 11, 2014 at 12:32 pm
No the Beer Store does not have to sell their beer at the same price. Beer is cheaper at the Beer Store because they can sell it in package sizes larger than six. You'll pay the same price for singles, but if you buy in "bulk" you pay less per can at the Beer Store.

The price across LCBOs would for sure be consistent though.
W. K. Lis / July 11, 2014 at 01:20 pm
The LCBO is an alcohol cartel and price-fixer. Any other commercial endeavour would be investigated and charged accordingly.
frigid-air / July 11, 2014 at 01:34 pm
......and still no doors keeping in the cold for the cold beer shelves.

How much energy is wasted as that cool air blows out and into the store and misses any opportunity to chill the beer slightly below tepid.
iSkyscraper / July 11, 2014 at 01:55 pm
Top notch design, looks like a high-end wine store in Chicago, New York or SF. That's not the issue.

The issue is the fact that there are only a few locations and you are dependent on non-market forces to determine those locations and what they look like because it is a government monopoly. And therefore there is no way of knowing if the pricing is, in fact, fair because there is no competition.

To use the extremely popular Yellow Tail as an example:

LCBO - $10.95

That's at the high end of the spectrum, as the same bottle seems to run $6 to $11 in the US.

The LCBO makes much of their ability to buy in volume and keep down prices, but they also make much of their social mission to price alcohol high enough to avoid abuse and of their revenue mission to generate profits for the government.

More should be done to see how their pricing really compares.

McRib replying to a comment from The Shakes / July 11, 2014 at 02:31 pm
I dunno, I kind of like that it is separated by country of origin. Then if I want a Cotes du Rhone I can head straight to France, as opposed to having to scan every single red wine in the place.
sw replying to a comment from The Shakes / July 11, 2014 at 02:56 pm
Totally agree! I was recently at a wine & liquor store in upstate NY where all the wine was organized and displayed by type.. All the pinot noirs were together, as were the sauvignon blancs, and so on... Makes for far easier browsing!! I thought that was a great idea.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Monopoly / July 11, 2014 at 04:00 pm
It'll still be a monopoly if they privatize the LCBO. The government still keeps price controls on booze, and at a high price on it. Just open it up to all, and end the price controls.
ZE_RATIONALIST / July 11, 2014 at 04:01 pm
A provincial monopoly has no competition. They could get by with a bare-bones layout and we'd still have to shop there. The province could use the money being sunk into these to fix up public schools in urgent need of repair, or purchase a new CT/MRI machine for an under-served region, etc, for every store they retrofit.
The Shakes replying to a comment from McRib / July 11, 2014 at 04:06 pm
I get that their trying to stress the terroir and appellation, but it's just not efficient. And frankly very confusing for those of us who just want a nice bottle to bring to dinner. I think if they made it more accessible to novices and not just the cognoscenti, they could probably sell more and have much smaller stores.

Compare it to grocery shopping, if you go to any grocery store in the free world, you can find an avocado in less than 10 seconds, it'll be in the fruit section - easy peasy. You don't have to know if the avocado is a new world fruit or an old world fruit. You don't have to check the Asian food aisle avocados and then cross check against the Mexican food aisle avocados to see which ones are riper and cheaper. You don't have to have a degree in avocado origins to know they won't be found in the European food aisle. And then there isn't a whole separate parallel supermarket within the supermarket, similar to Vintages.
Rob / July 11, 2014 at 05:06 pm
Pricing complaints aside, my biggest gripe with the LCBO is selection. The selection in most stores (not including their large "flagship" locations like Summerhill or Laird & Eglinton) is usually somewhat limited. This is fine if all you want is a couple bottles of Yellowtail and a 12 pack of Keiths, but if you are looking for something more specific (even locally-produced products), you are more often than not SOL.

The great thing about liquor stores in less-regulated states and provinces (other than pricing) is that you get specialty stores. One store may cater to wine, one to whiskys, one to craft beers, etc. Even stores that have a varied selection may have certain specializations based on the tastes of the owners/staff. You aren't forced to accept "one-size-fits-all".

After having shopped at Total Wine in the states, shopping at the smaller LCBO's can be depressing.
Rose / July 11, 2014 at 06:12 pm
What's the inspiration coming from? Combining the recent World Cup, the store design looks a little bit like Germany flag and players' shirts.
WilliamOfNormandy / July 11, 2014 at 06:25 pm
I am sick of these big box suburban stores plunked down in our neighbourhoods. I dont have a car. I live in the Upper Beach and it is a 25 minute walk for me to get to the closest LCBO. if they are going to keep their North Korean monopoly at least have more and smaller stores to service the urban market. Of course this is not in the cards, as is not beer and wine at the corner store. And how about those incessant propaganda duo language announcements about being 25! The drinking age is 19 you pricks. This is all orchestrated to make us believe that booze is safest in their hands with the implication that the private sector would be remiss and give out liquor to anyone walking into a convenience or supermarket. The condescending tone is sickening.
K / July 11, 2014 at 06:29 pm
This new urban LCBO is a test pilot to see how it works out. This is the only LCBO of it's kind. I think it's great, as other LCBO's are uniform, and starting to look drab. (If store aesthetic matter to you). I was at a grand opening this week of another LCBO on the west end of the city (Runnymede/Bloor) and I felt like they should have remodeled the store like this one also.

PS-this new store also has the same feel as the NEW LCBO website as well...anyone agree here?
Geoff / July 11, 2014 at 09:58 pm
Shocking waste of taxpayer's money. In what other inelastic monopoly is so much spent on design/renovations? Oh ya, one run by the government! Pathetic how we seem to tolerate this nonsense.
Yyzgirl replying to a comment from ZE_RATIONALIST / July 11, 2014 at 10:05 pm
I completely agree - same with the money spent on the LCBO's glossy magazine!
Rick VanSickle / July 11, 2014 at 10:29 pm
Here's a thought, LCBO. Let free enterprise build and run these stores. It's time to emerge from the Dark Ages. Government has no business in running retail stores. That isn't their job.
Brian / July 11, 2014 at 11:48 pm
Government building on a busy street with public transit should include rental accommodation above it. Irresponsible use of excellent urban space.
Johnny Canuck replying to a comment from Geoff / July 13, 2014 at 03:17 am
Have you gone to a new Beer Store.... Ah no.
Johnny Canuck replying to a comment from Ben / July 13, 2014 at 03:24 am
That's exactly what Ben was saying. The price for 1 beer or a pack of 6 is EXACTLY the same at the beer store and the LCBO. Only buying at the beer store puts your money in some fat cat's pocket, (American's pocket because Molson's was bought by an American company, Anheiser Busch and Sapparo are all American owned now) Buying at the LCBO lowers your taxes because it's a non profit. ALL profits go back to the province. Profits to the beer store go to shareholders. The Beer store also pays shit! FYI
Johnny Canuck replying to a comment from Rick VanSickle / July 13, 2014 at 03:28 am
The LCBO is a government cash cow. Privatize and pay $125 extra in taxes per man, woman, and child in Ontario. How much does that effect your family buddy? Privatise and watch selection dwindle to the best sellers, and Ontario craft breweries and wineries suffer. Not to mention social responsiblity...
Steve / July 14, 2014 at 02:05 am
So when are we going to be able to buy liquor in convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations like everyone else in the world?
Wine&Whine / July 14, 2014 at 08:49 am
Wow. Lots of negativity. I don't know ... I will hold back judgement until I experienceit. All I know is that LCBO changed the face of retailing several years back, creating demand by having us eagerly awaiting the next 'release' ... moving consumers from a 1 bottle purchase to buying bottles (or cases!)for cellering ... they've increased share of wallet (people now spend on wine in ways they never did before). I don't know ... LCBO seems to know retail ... this is simply a new twist on their experience continuum. Two best practices I'd love to see added:
1. Interactive Digital in the Vintages section where I can enter what I'm serving for dinner and your system pairs it with the best wine to match my meal.
2. A section dedicated to "Best of the 90's" (Wines scoring over 90) so I can more easily pick up a nice bottle without too much research
i hate the LCBO replying to a comment from Johnny Canuck / July 15, 2014 at 01:00 pm
they raise the same amount of tax revenue from a bottle of wine whether it's sold by the LCBO or in a corner store.. the difference with privatization would be convenience, the absence of useless glossy magazines (guess who pays for them) that must cost a fortune and cashiers making $30/hr+

take a look at premier wines in Buffalo and see how we're getting hosed
seanm replying to a comment from i hate the LCBO / July 15, 2014 at 11:16 pm
The industry pays for those Food & Drink magazines, not taxpayers, as beer/wine/liquor companies pay for ad space to fund the magazines and promotional inserts. It's kind of a "voluntold" situation for the industry, since repeatedly declining to buy ad space may negatively affect a company's listings.
James replying to a comment from Wine&Whine / July 16, 2014 at 10:48 am
Not sure if serious or trolling...

"LCBO seems to know retail"

Quite easy to know retail when you are pretty much the only supplier.

"All I know is that LCBO changed the face of retailing several years back"


"moving consumers from a 1 bottle purchase to buying bottles"

Yes, this concept is unheard of in other parts of the world, where the LCBO does not exist.

Oh well, the LCBO provides some massive savings sometimes. Just recently, I saved 20 cents on a 18 dollar bottle of wine. A concept unheard of until the LCBO introduced it.
justalinguist / July 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm
Lucy / July 31, 2014 at 03:20 pm
This site definitely has all the information and facts I needed about this subject and didn't know who to ask.
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