Charleswood residents now have more options, and convenience, for buying alcohol.
The Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MLLC) opened a Liquor Mart Express (LME) in the Park West Shopping Centre, 6640 Roblin Blvd., on April 29.
According to MLLC spokeswoman Susan Harrison, customers visiting the store in its opening days have been telling employees it’s about time.
"We do look at the needs of any area that we’re going into, and I know that area has seen a lot of growth," Harrison said of the decision to open a store in the area.
Paul Winslow, a 44-year resident of the area, tried out the new store for the first time on Wednesday. Usually he travels 20 blocks to the Liquor Mart at Charleswood Centre.
"It’s fantastic," Winslow said, adding he’s happy to see another storefront occupying part of the strip mall.
Dave and Sandra Anderson, also trying out the store for the first time on Wednesday, said the lone employee was very friendly.
"It’s just more convenient," Sandra said, explaining that in the past they travelled over the West Perimeter Bridge to the Liquor Mart at Portage Avenue and Cavalier Drive.
Sandra echoed Winslow’s happiness to see a new tenant in the strip mall, noting that even with the addition of the LME and a Pizza Hotline opening last week, the mall still has several empty storefronts.
The new 4,560 square-foot LME offers 1,000 unique products, making it by far the largest of the four LMEs now open in Manitoba and the only one with doors that open onto a parking lot.
The first such store opened inside Richardson International Airport in November of 2011. That was followed by one inside the Pembina Village Safeway in December 2012, and one in a Brandon Sobeys last March.
Harrison said the express stores are part of the province’s "hospitality strategy" announced in 2011, and the main purpose is to provide convenience.
The "express" designation is purely due to the size, she said.
"They’re smaller (and) they carry fewer listings than our regular liquor stores."
By comparison, the non-express Grant Park Liquor Mart is over 15,000 square feet and more than 3,300 unique products.
The original plan was to open five LMEs inside grocery stores and five as stand-alone stores, she said, but that may not happen until the "pilot project" has been evaluated.
No more LMEs are being built at this time, she said, though a new liquor mart being built in Winkler is slated to open in Dec. 2014.
Stacking up the LMEs:
Brandon West Sobeys:
1,000 square feet
Pembina Village Safeway:
755 square feet
Richardson International Airport:
600 square feet
Park West Shopping Centre:
4,560 square feet