IKEA supports malt industry

IKEA cafeterias not only sell their famous meatball dinners—but are also stocked with barley pops. That’s right, the Swedish retail giant offers customers the option of purchasing a bottled brew while chowing down on a 75-cent hotdog.

This week, news sprung from Winnipeg that the local IKEA is applying for a liquor licence. The news got us wondering, is this common practice for IKEA?

IKEA sIKEA-Beerpokesperson Darren McArthur informed us that in fact, Winnipeg is the last and only IKEA store in Canada that currently does not have a liquor licence.

Could liquor licensed retailer-owner restaurants catch on at other big box stores, or is this a Scandinavian specialty? IKEA is unique in its history of having an on-site discounted restaurant. Canadian brand Zellers used to house their own restaurant but was unable to leverage and align efforts in the way IKEA has succeeded.

Liquor legislation varies provincially, but all restaurants are allowed to apply for liquor licences, including IKEA restaurants. IKEAs are not selling whole cases of beer they are selling single bottles in their food units and are therefore permitted.

A related example of varying restrictions can be found in B.C. As of April 1 this year, B.C. grocery stores that exceed 10,000 square feet and maintain 75 per cent of their sales in food products will be able to sell liquor. Though big box retailers like Walmart may sell a lot of groceries, they are not allowed to sell liquor under this grocery store model because by definition in the requirements they are not considered a grocery store.

Your turn to weigh in: Suppose Walmart decides to adopt this strategy and have on-site liquor sales in a designated eating area. Is this okay? Do we want retailers to offer an alcohol option?

Regardless, one thing is for certain, in a store designed like a maze, combined with a beer or two, IKEA can create a whole new kind of shopping experience.

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