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Tales from Abroad: Nova Scotia

May 18th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Nova Scotia has a provincial liquor commission that operates retail stores similar to Ontario, called the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, or NSLC.  Their stores do a fine job of providing a range of wine, spirits and beer to consumers.  For a province of about 1 million, there isn’t a huge market for specialty products, or so one might think.  But the province has been very forward-thinking to allow for specialty products regardless of the size of their market.

Over five years ago the NSLC implemented the Private Wine and Specialty Store Program, which does just what it says – allow for private stores.  The original objectives of the program was to improve service and selection to consumers and provide an opportunity for small business.  What this program gives residents of Nova Scotia is more choice.  There are still NSLC stores that service the province, but there are also private stores such as Premier Wine and Spirits and Bishop’s Cellar that have opened offering consumers greater selection.  The program has been successful, and the government renewed the program for a second five-year term in 2007.

A recent trip to Premier Wine and Spirits in downtown Halifax demonstrated that no matter how small a market size, when specialty beer selection is permitted niche stores can succeed.  Premier offers a full range of Rogue beers, both their specialty and regular offerings.  North Coast was also available, in both single bottles and six-packs.  Flying Dog was available too, as was a couple of brands of Dieu du Ciel.  With the exception of Rogue Dead Guy Ale, none of these beers are regularly available in Ontario.  I don’t think North Coast has ever seen the insides of the borders of Ontario.

Generally speaking the selection of beer in Ontario does top Nova Scotia, due to the sheer size of this market compared to the Maritimes.  But it is fabulous to see a provincial government allowing private retail along side their own – something that we at Free Our Beer completely support.  The Nova Scotia government still operates all NSLC stores and more importantly, collects taxes on liquor.  But consumers win as they have greater selection, and entrepreneurs win as it is possible to set up specialty stores to satisfy niche markets.  Take note Government of Ontario.

Tags: Government · LCBO · Outside Ontario

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rick Green // May 20, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Do you know how the pricing works?

    In BC we have private & government stores also. Most private stores are allowed to buy liquor at a 16% discount off the government retail price and can mark it up above. However, most private stores are more expensive than government stores, but don’t have better selection, nor service.

    That said, there are some stores that do offer a better selection and the number seems to be slowly growing. Compared to across the border, though, it is quite laughable. Compared to Ontario, I understand it’s better in BC…

  • 2 Bobby O'K. // May 27, 2009 at 9:55 am

    “A recent trip to Premier Wine and Spirits in downtown Halifax demonstrated that no matter how small a market size, when specialty beer selection is permitted niche stores can succeed.”

    Actually I think the reverse is more accurate Cass – when niche stores are permitted, specialty beer selections can succeed.

  • 3 pootz // Jun 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I shopped at Premier when I was in Halifax a few years ago. They were reps for flying dog as well as Rogue, the Euro selection selection was great too but the prices sucked. I put this down to the location, they’re in a pretty upscale DT shopping center….big bucks per Sq.Ft. for the tenants. No doubt a specialty shop in a more cost effective locale could price these beers more reasonably….hey that’s what competition in free markets is all about.

  • 4 bluejay67 // Jun 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Just wondering why we don’t know of any beer that has less sugar in it. Also, that Bud with a lime taste is available in Ontario, wondering when we are getting that in NS. I bet that is a nice beer, like to try it.

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