Tag Archives: heritage preservation

Ramble #8 – Where Liquor Meets Heritage Preservation

5 Apr

summerhillI dropped in to the Summerhill LCBO (picture) this week with a couple of friends, one of them a neophyte to this Holy Grail of booze. After about way too long a time spent looking at wine (everyone understanding and nodding their heads), the neophyte said, “Why don’t they make more of these stores? You know. Stores that have this great re-purposing of an historical building feel and are filled to the brim with stuff you can’t get elsewhere. And seeing as it’s in Toronto, this building probably would have ended up a condo tower.” OK, I’m paraphrasing and taking creative license.

So, let’s think  about it. This company has a monopoly on almost all selling of alcohol in a province of over 15 million people. I repeat – a monopoly for selling alcohol, Mr. Capone. Every time someone dare mention that some part of the sale of wine, liquor and beer be privatized, we hear that citizens are the beneficiaries of several kazillion dollars applied against an ever burgeoning public debt that, sniff, sniff, my grandchildren will have to pay off. Pause to blow my nose. I agree that’s a great argument. In addition to that, should we dare consider the sale of wine from untrained and money grabbing, look-the-other-way, private sector wine merchants and convenience store cartels, we would end up with wine addicted 10 year olds (with fake ID) standing on street corners accosting older white guys, like me for a toonie to purchase a bottle of Tignanello. What can I tell you? They’re spoiled, addicted 10 year olds with great taste in wine and the mistaken impression that old(er) white guys care about them.

I get it; there is some common benefit from the concentration, control and distribution of booze, I guess. I’ll concede that folks in Wawa really do get better selection than a privatized system would provide. And, maybe there’s a stricter vigilance to age barriers to purchase beverage alcohol. And, I believe that they’re doing the best they can cause my therapist told me that’s the best way to look at people. You just get too angry otherwise.  But they’ve come so far – why not go further?

Does an absolute monopoly have to mean that the only place I can get wine has to be in a store that looks like a GAP factory outlet? Does this monopoly have to follow the unsustainable mantra that you build stores that all look exactly alike with parking enough for the 45 minute period of each year when you’ll actually need it? The Growth Secretariat loves it, I’m sure but. Why not instead, just once in a while, take the opportunity that guaranteed profitability presents and take historical buildings slated for municipal wrangling and eventual demolition and make them Summerhill? Re-purpose the former home of Mooney Gibson in London Ont. (Google him, non-baseball fanatics) for a lovely wine store. Oh, wait, that home was torn down. Come on, don’t change the world one building at a time. Just change one building at a time – the world will look after itself. Don’t regret Summerhill – franchise it! Become the beacon of heritage preservation! We’re the LCBO – come in here, buy stuff to get a buzz, get off on the building you’re in and learn that old doesn’t mean “tear it down”. I think there could be a slogan there. Pared down a bit but catchy.

And, then, the madness begins. Stock that store with lots of selection and then add an order desk that isn’t just a, “Let me see what’s in the warehouse, sir”, but an “I’ll see if we can order that in from Monsieur Le Vin, mon ami de Gigondas, Mr. Duffswines.”  Wow! Awesome! It would stop me from smuggling at least. I know everyone is doing the best they can. But, wouldn’t this be better? And, isn’t better, always always better?

I’ll forego the privatization argument for another ramble. Wait, I’ve already won that one, haven’t I?

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