BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL – The long-anticipated LCBO store in Listowel held its grand opening last week, offering a new expanded space and increased selection.
Dignitaries gathered on Thursday, Feb 13, at the Listowel Carriage Shopping Centre to celebrate the opening of the newest LCBO in the province. Bob Peter, LCBO president and CEO, said Listowel’s was the third store opened this month, including a Toronto opening in the middle of a blizzard.
“We’re delighted there’s no blizzard today to drive up here,” he said. “It was great to see all the kids on the horses and buggies going to school on the way up.”
North Perth Mayor Julie Behrns was also on hand for the opening, indicating the amount of anticipation for the new LCBO.
“We’ve been looking forward to this opening for a little bit now,” she said. “We know this store will serve us and the community long into the future.”
New store manager Margaret Harbinson said staff has been busy preparing for the opening, and it’s exciting now that it’s here. The over 6,100 square foot store boasts an increased selection of about 500 additional products, including a range of Ontario VQA wines.
“The Ontario brands have become very popular, as have the Ontario craft beers,” Harbinson said. “We have a very large selection.”
Another attraction in the new store is a walk-in beer cooler that Harbinson said is about the same size as the previous store’s main shelving area and is refrigerated with outside air for nine months of the year.
“The selection and the large walk-in beer fridge is the thing that most people are excited about,” Harbinson said.
Harbinson was hired at the original LCBO on Main Street back in 1987, and said that the amount of business had outgrown the small store.
“The highway has become so much busier,” she said. “We really have a lot more customers from outside the community.”
The new store along Highway 23 also brings increased parking and double the number of cashier tills over the old store, and Harbinson said she is looking at adding staff to meet the demand of customers.
“How far we go with that hiring is yet to be seen,” Harbinson said. “It will depend on the traffic we have through the store.”
The money put back into the province from the LCBO was also mentioned, with staff across Ontario raising $3.2 million for United Way, and over $4 million for Sick Children’s Hospitals of Ontario last year. Children’s Hospital spokesperson Jennifer Baxter said the money would go towards purchasing giraffe omnibeds for the neonatal intensive care unit.
“You have helped teeny little babies that have to use the giraffe omnibeds every day,” she said. “Thank you to the customers, staff and LCBO for making miracles happen at Children’s Hospital every day.”
The store was officially opened with a christening from the guests of honour.
“We don’t cut ribbons here at the LCBO, we pop corks,” Peter said.