Raise a glass Market selling non-alcoholic drinks opens in Exchange District
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Pop the non-alcoholic Champagne.
Or, if you’re Jessie Halliburton, the zero per cent spumante, which mimics prosecco. It was her celebratory drink of choice Thursday as The Søbr Market opened its brick-and-mortar outlet in the Exchange District.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Jessie said.
She eyed rows of bright cans and bottles: to the left, booze-free beer and mojitos; on the right, non-alcoholic wine.
Shane Halliburton, her husband and business partner, trucked boxes of non-alcoholic Irish whiskey into the shop, past GoodLocal’s wares.
“We’re still bringing in a lot of stuff today, but that’s OK,” Jessie said. “It feels good. It feels right.”
About a year ago, they contemplated creating a non-alcoholic beverage business. In July, they launched The Søbr Market online site, which touted brands from across the globe.
Early last month, they “jumped’ at a shared space with GoodLocal, a retailer that sells Manitoba products from its outlet on McDermot Avenue.
“The great thing is none of this stuff contains alcohol,” Jessie said, looking to the faux wines and spirits. “It’s nothing to come in and grab a nice beverage and then continue on walking around in the Exchange.
“We’re hoping to see more of that, to be a quick stop in.”
The Exchange District was a constant conversation topic at The Søbr Market pop-ups, Jessie said.
Customers would ask about a storefront. Jessie would reply with a question: where?
“The biggest (requests) were the Exchange and South Osborne,” she said.
Opportunity knocked when she found out GoodLocal wanted to split its roughly 700-square-foot space with another business. The two entities began talks in January.
“(This) brings possibly more people down to our place (and)… a larger variety of products,” said Quentin Ferguson, GoodLocal’s operations manager.
GoodLocal, which was co-founded by Obby Khan before he became a Tory MLA, opened its shop in late 2021.
It will keep much of the store’s right side, upon entrance, while The Søbr Market is in the back left corner.
Jessie envisions hosting sampling events and hiring a staff member. She plans to continue with pop-ups — after all, there’s the Wonderful Wedding Show to attend.
The Halliburtons will rotate drinks on the shelves: rosé on display for Valentine’s Day, but something else in March. There’s Little Brown Jug, Good Neighbour Brewing and other products from Manitoba companies to promote.
“I think (this is) really positive news,” said Natassia Brazeau, co-owner of Northlore, a nearby shop. “The more, the merrier down here.”
The Exchange District BIZ did not have recent data about shop openings and closures during the pandemic on Thursday. From March of 2020 to last December, 104 downtown businesses closed, while 70 opened.
“Midweek tends to be the busiest. I think a lot of people work from home on Fridays. Even the weekends too, I’ve noticed the traffic pick up, which is so positive.”–Natassia Brazeau
Brazeau has noticed an uptick in the number of office workers who are returning.
“Midweek tends to be the busiest. I think a lot of people work from home on Fridays,” Brazeau said. “Even the weekends too, I’ve noticed the traffic pick up, which is so positive.”
Sobriety seems to be on the rise, and so, The Søbr Market might draw new faces to the Exchange, Brazeau said.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction considers three to six drinks a week a moderate risk for men and women, according to recently released guidelines. It warned that any amount of alcohol is unsafe.
Global Market Insights estimated the non-alcoholic beer market to be worth more than US$22 billion in 2022. The industry might double its worth in a decade, the market research firm predicted.
Jessie believes the new guidelines could prompt some people to reduce or quit alcohol consumption.
“I feel like it’s given people an out,” she said. “We’re hoping the conversation changes. We’re hoping the stigma changes and that this just becomes more mainstream.”
The 223 McDermot Ave. hub could be a springboard for a shop of The Søbr Market’s own down the line, Jessie said.
“(This is) really ideal,” Shane added. “It’s right in the heart of the city. It’s not too far for anyone to come.”
Parking is “actually pretty good,” he said. There are spots along the street and a loading zone is just outside.
“We’re hoping the stigma changes and that this just becomes more mainstream.”–Jessie Halliburton
Exchange District shop owners have lamented the lack of close parking, and year-round protected bike lanes that block their storefronts.
Shane will continue to run warehouse operations for The Søbr Market’s online store, which has more options than the brick-and-mortar location.
The Søbr Market will be open Tuesday till Saturday. The hours are still being determined, but 11 a.m. will likely be the start time, with closing hours varying.
The Halliburtons plan to stay open until 6 p.m. or later on Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.
Updated on Friday, February 3, 2023 1:41 PM CST: Updates copy to reflect the The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction established the new guidlines, not Health Canada