Co-op members in Port Alberni will soon be able to enjoy their benefits when purchasing liquor.
In October, Mid Island Consumer Services Co-operative (Mid Island Co-op) purchased the Liquor Depot at the bottom of Johnston Road. The store will now transition to be owned and operated by Alberni District Co-op.
Alberni District Co-op general manager Dave Heinrichs explained that this purchase was part of an agreement with Mid Island Co-op, where the company purchased eight liquor stores across the Island owned by Alcanna Inc. The building is still a leased one, but Co-op has taken over the business.
“Mid-Island Co-op took on other liquor stores throughout the Island,” explained Heinrichs. “This one fell within our service area.”
This is the first time that Alberni District Co-op has expanded to provided services outside of gas bars and convenience stores. While co-ops across the province own and operate a variety of retail options—from food stores to pharmacies to liquor stores—Alberni District Co-op has only been offering fuel up to this point.
“Co-ops have been looking to diversify in other areas all across Canada,” said Heinrichs. “Co-op is very broad in what they offer to local areas. With this purchase, we were able to diversify into liquor.”
This means co-op members will now be able to earn benefits when purchasing liquor at the Liquor Depot. Each time members use their member number, their purchases are recorded. At the end of the year, members are entitled to a share in the company profits based on their purchases with the co-op. These are paid out partially in equity and partially in cash.
Alberni District Co-op officially took over the Liquor Depot as of Oct. 30, but Heinrichs says there will be a bit of a “transitional period” before people will be able to use their co-op membership number to earn equity and cash back.
“It will take until the new year before we can get it re-branded,” said Heinrichs.
Despite the new ownership, Heinrichs said business will remain “largely the same” at the Liquor Depot.
“It’s still a liquor store,” said Heinrichs. “We’ve kept all the staff who were there. Now members will be able to enjoy their patronage benefits with a wider range of products.”
Heinrichs said Alberni District Co-op is also looking for more areas to expand their products and offerings.
“We’re always trying to keep our ears to the ground,” he said. “As opportunities come to our desk, we review them.”