Wine now sold alongside beer at Kuujjuaq’s co-op store
Sales continue to be strong
KUUJJUAQ — As of last week, people in Kuujjuaq can now buy wine as well as beer at their local co-op store.
For $60 — or $55 for co-op members — customers can buy a 12-pack of either Budweiser, Labatt Blue, Molson Dry and Coors Light.
And now they can also buy one-litre tetrapacks of Bistro Mundo wine for $25 each.
Local retail sales of beer, which started last month, continue to be brisk: 572 cases of beer were sold from May 31 to June 1, with supplies of Budweiser and Molson Dry running out by the afternoon of June 1.
Nearly 200 one-litre cartons of wine were sold this past week as well, with white wine selling out by June 1.
Among the other top popular item now on sale at the store, which stocks a variety of grocery and snack items as well as hunting and fishing gear, gifts and home furnishings: seaweed wrappings to make sushi.
You can buy beer and wine — one 12-pack or one-litre of wine at a time — at the co-op store Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Sometimes the line stretches from the counter in the back of the store, where two cashiers often work, to the front of the store.
On June 1, a steady stream of customers came in to buy beer and wine while kids crowded around the front cash to buy candy — a scene that you might see anywhere in southern Quebec corner stores where beer and wine are also sold along with other items.
The only difference is that there’s a separate cash system for the alcohol purchases, which involves first paying a cashier and then going with a slip to a clerk who fetches the beer or wine.
The Kuujjuaq customers who spoke to Nunatsiaq News cited the convenience — and reasonable cost — of the new retail sales’ system as a plus.
And they expect bootleggers to be hard hit by the legally-available source of beer and wine in town.
At the same time, membership in the co-op association is growing by as many as 10 members a day — a $10 membership will get you a $5 discount on a pack of beer.
The store has also hired on a half a dozen local workers.
The restoration of retail beer (and now wine) sales in Kuujjuaq follows a July 2011 referendum in which eligible voters in the town of 2,200 voted 75 per cent in favour of allowing the Fort Chimo Co-op Association to sell beer from its local store.
The co-op association didn’t need to re-apply for a license to sell alcohol since they had never relinquished their previous one.
In 1979, Kuujjuaq’s co-operative association started selling beer two days a week but stopped in 1996. That year, residents voted to stop sales following a series of alcohol-fueled deaths.
It’s unclear whether beer and wine sales will result in an increase of alcohol-related incidents in Kuujjuaq (where most crime is already linked to alcohol) — but a young man from a neighbouring community, who was intoxicated and driving an all-terrain-vehicle, hit a truck this past week and suffered severe head trauma.