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Save-on-Foods in South Surrey first grocery store to sell B.C. wines

Sweeping changes to B.C.’s liquor laws came into effect Wednesday, with a grocery store in South Surrey becoming the first in the province to stock and sell wine.

Save-on-Foods on 152nd Street in Surrey opened its “locally crafted wines” section on Wednesday, making it the first and only grocery store in the province currently selling liquor.

“This really is a milestone event for British Columbia’s progress in modernizing our liquor laws,” Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said at a news conference where the wine shelves were unveiled. “Today marks the first day we have opened up the market to change.”

The Save-on-Foods location takes advantage of the provincial government’s new “B.C. wine-on-shelves model.” While she couldn’t offer a timeline of when more are expected to open, Anton said she expects it will be soon.

“There certainly appears to be some very significant customer demand for that to happen,” she told reporters.

Under the model, the grocery store can sell wine at any of the tills, but they must be staffed by a cashier who is over the age of 19 and trained in Serving it Right.

Save-on-Foods partnered with the B.C. Wine Institute, which holds the wine licence, to be able to sell wine in its South Surrey location.

“There are almost 100 B.C. wineries represented on the grocery store shelves here today, and there are about 500 different wines to choose from,” Anton said.

A series of other liquor law changes came into effect Wednesday, including a “store within a store” model, which will allow the sale of other alcoholic products, like spirits. None are operating yet in B.C.

Under the new regulations, all liquor retailers, including BC Liquor Stores, will also purchase their alcohol at the same price under a new wholesale model.

Despite fears that this would result in a jump in prices, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch said most product prices at BC liquor stores stayed more or less the same Wednesday.

“Customers won’t be seeing much, if any, change on their receipts today,” a spokesperson for the distribution branch wrote in an email.

BC Liquor Stores will also begin rolling out extended operating hours and Sunday openings, as well as refrigeration. Previously, chilled beer and wine was limited to private liquor stores and BC Liquor signature stores.

Surrey resident Barry Orr was shopping for coffee at Save-on-Foods on Wednesday when he came across the wine aisles.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s convenient coming here, getting the groceries and buying a bottle of wine at the same time. I think it’s a great idea. It’s long past due.”

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