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Beer Importing – Putting the Order Together

May 8th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Once all the agent paperwork was finished, it was time to get down to business.  Working with Brian Titus, the president of Garrison, we decided the best first step to bring Garrison to Ontario was a private order.

Basically there are three ways beer can be distributed in Ontario.  The first is to have a listing at the LCBO or Beer Store.  In the case of a listing, beers must be submitted to the LCBO for consideration and they choose what goes on the shelf.  A brewery can also list at The Beer Store, which although does not involve a selection process, does require the payment of listing fees and a minimum level of sales to be met in order to be maintained.  Coupled with the poor retail experience The Beer Store isn’t always a ideal choice.

The second way is through consignment, which is where beers are kept at the LCBO warehouse for sale, but not put on the shelf.  Unfortunately since the LCBO is the only entity authorized to store beer, they have a limited amount of warehouse space – agents cannot store the beer themselves and re-sell.  And since I am a new agent, from what I understand the LCBO would not grant me consignment space until I have more experience and a proven track record.  So that’s a consideration down the road.

The third way – and really the only way that eliminates the LCBO from the decision-making process – is a private order.  A private order is just like it sounds – a private order of beer that is arranged between the agent, brewery and private consumers.  With the right paperwork, a private order is the best way for agents and breweries to bring the beer to consumers that they wish.

Once Brian and I decided on doing a private order, we chose the brands to offer.  For cost efficiencies (namely shipping), a full pallet of cases was the best bet.  This would be about 80 cases of various brands of Garrison’s: their award-winning Imperial Pale Ale, the new seasonal Sugar Moon Maple Ale, and a mix-6 pack featuring different beers.  This would offer consumers a wide variety of Garrison beers to choose from.

Next up came pricing.  Here’s where things started getting interesting.  In order to estimate what consumers would actually pay for cases of beer from Garrison, I needed to understand how the pricing model worked.  After asking around, I received from the LCBO a Microsoft Access database that was to allow me to key in the base price and find out an approximation of the end price.  Unfortunately the Access DB that I was provided was not compatible with the most recent version of Access.  I went back-and-forth with some IT folks at the LCBO to no avail – although helpful I never got a DB that worked with the latest version of Access.

Getting frustrated with having to troubleshoot an incompatible Access DB, I asked if there was an Excel spreadsheet that would do the job.  There was, and it was provided to me.  But it was something else to figure out.  That’s for the next chapter, coming up.

Beer Importing is an ongoing series documenting the process of importing beer through the LCBO.  This particular series documents a private order of Garrison beers from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Tags: Importing

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ruserious // May 11, 2009 at 2:27 pm


    Is this private order only for selling beer directly to the consumer or does it apply as well to bars and restaurants ordering beer that wish to re-sell to consumers as well?

  • 2 admin // May 11, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    This particular order is only private consumers, no bars or restaurants.

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