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LCBO strike: Ottawa craft breweries, distilleries see sales surge as strike enters fourth day

LCBO strike: Ottawa craft breweries, distilleries see sales surge as strike enters fourth day
LCBO strike: Ottawa craft breweries, distilleries see sales surge as strike enters fourth day

As the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) strike continues for four days, establishments across Ontario remain closed. As a result, the province has launched a new interactive map to help people find alcoholic beverages.

On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford posted a video on the social media site X introducing a new map that aims to connect consumers with beer, wine, cider and spirits outlets.

“Even though we’ve been around for 11 years, people still don’t know we exist. A lot of people think LCBO is the only place to go for spirits,” said Greg Lipin, owner of North of 7 Distillery.

“We’re one of the few alternatives if you’re looking for spirits, since the LCBO is closed. And then there’s Ottawa, which has only a handful of distilleries. Out of the 50 craft distilleries in Ontario, I think there’s only six that make rum and maybe three that make whisky.”

Lipin says his distillery has seen significant sales growth since the LCBO closed and the new menu will help expand their customer base and discover their range of locally produced products, including vodka, gin, whiskey and rum.

Paul Meek, owner of Kichesippi Beer Co. in Bells Corners, says his sales are up as well.

The store and restaurant offer beer, coolers, and even international wines. While Meek knows that Ottawa residents can simply travel to Quebec to make their alcohol purchases, he encourages residents to support their local businesses.

“When you buy from the LCBO, that money stays in the Ontario economy. But because you can’t go to the LCBO, we hope you’ll go to your local brewery, cider house or distillery and help keep that money in our community and province,” he said.

We have our own beer, some local ciders, local seltzers and some fantastic Ontario produce.”

On Friday, all 669 stores in Ontario were closed due to stalled contract negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the provincial government.

LCBO stores are expected to remain closed for at least 14 days. However, grocery stores in smaller communities will remain open and online ordering will be available, but product limits will apply.

With so many buying options, the question is whether the voices of the striking LCBO workers will be heard.

“A lot of the little grocery stores outside of town have beer,” said Beer Store customer Mike Patterson.

“I don’t disagree with the workers striking. I think they have reasons to do it, just the way it’s run. Whether it will work or not, I don’t know.”