Drive Sober Toronto should be commended for its strong work on reducing impaired driving.
But its claim that convenience stores can’t deal with the challenges of selling an age-restricted product like alcohol just aren’t true. Here are some facts: Convenience stores are responsible community retailers that already sell alcohol at over 200 locations in Ontario. The streets are just as safe in those communities as anywhere else.
In fact, there are four convenience stores within 25 kilometres of Barrie – Thornton, Hawkestone, Craighurst, Minesing – that already sell beer, wine and spirits with the utmost responsibility. Convenience stores sell more age-restricted products than any other retailer – it’s a job we take very seriously. For tobacco alone, making two mistakes within five years means we lose our licence and the store closes. The same can’t be said for other retailers of age restricted products.
As a local parent and as someone in the convenience store industry, I can assure you that no one wants to sell an age-restricted product to a minor. It’s not right, and we train our people and have systems in place to prevent it from happening. Convenience stores are also regularly mystery-shopped by local boards of health, and scrutinized by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario; The Beer Store is subject to neither.
Our dedication to identification checks has produced strong results. Data from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit shows that in 2013, 91% of convenience store retailers passed checks from officials.
However, data on how well other retailers, like The Beer Store, perform isn’t available because they either do not do independent tests or they don’t release the results. Is there more work to do to eliminate errors in selling to minors? Yes, absolutely.
But when we’re looking at how well convenience stores do, it’s important to compare them to the other organizations in Ontario that have a similar responsibility. The facts are that convenience stores are setting the standard when it comes to checking for age.
Hasty Market vice-president, general manager