Ceremonial opening with staff.
Staff of the new Renfrew LCBO store gather during Monday’s ceremonial opening. From left are store manager Tom Bissonnette, Theresa Visinski, Margaret Dubeau, Tara McCabe, Bob Blimkie, Claire Norlock, Lindsay Miller, Sherry Steeves, assistant store manager Erin McGonigal-Dey and Tony Falcon.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
The longest-standing employee for the Renfrew LCBO store is exuberant about her new workplace home.
After working more than 30 years for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, she beams about the new premises at 910 O’Brien Road, next door to Payless Shoe Source, First Choice Haircutters and Mark’s Work Wearhouse.
“It’s a nicer atmosphere,” said Claire Norlock, referring to the lighter, brighter and more spacious quarters.
The new store opened Monday, following the closing last Saturday of the store at 114 Argyle Street. Officials say the older store, which had more than one downtown location, opened in 1959.
Store manager Tom Bissonnette, who has worked for the LCBO since he was 18, has been the Renfrew LCBO store manager for almost a decade.
At the ceremonial opening, he applauded the work of his staff and construction manager Pavlo Tourko, for getting the store up and running.
Modernization is the first word that comes to mind when Bissonnette describes the new store.
“It changes the whole attitude of the staff. It’s the pride factor,” said Bissonnette. “You can just see the difference.”
Also, he added: “It’s nice to see the stores that have been refurbished, or that are new, in Ottawa. But it’s also nice to see that it has happened in the Valley.”
The opening allows the number of full-time staff to increase from four to five, while casual staff doubles from seven to 14.
That’s partly because the Renfrew LCBO has expanded its hours. The schedule remains 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. for Sunday. But Monday through Wednesday hours have been extended past 6 p.m., to run 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The store itself is different in many more ways.
The store has nearly doubled to about 5,000 square feet of floor space. This provides space for 1,400 spirits, beers, coolers and other beverages, up from the previous 1,000. Including storage space, the store is about 8,000 square feet.
The Vintages section has also expanded, from 36 to 125 products, while a prominent Ontario VQA display showcases some of the province’s best wine.
“It’s an exciting day for Renfrew,” said LCBO president and CEO Bob Peter, adding a reminder that Pembroke will open its own new store in the New Year.
“This is the seventh store we’ve opened in the last month in the LCBO,” said Peter, referring to such sites as Hamilton, Markham and Brockville, with four more to be opened before Christmas and another 14 early in the New Year.
In Renfrew, an expected drawing card is the walk-in cold room for wine, beer and coolers. The floor space measures about 40 feet by 20 feet.
The cold room also uses outside air, rather than refrigerated air, for several months of the year, to cut electricity bills by about 10 per cent.
The new store also has increased parking, from 29 to 39 spaces, and four checkouts instead of three.
There is also a new customer service counter and continued wheelchair accessibility.
LCBO officials on hand for Monday’s ceremonial opening included CEO Bob Peter, district manager Marie Desmarais, retail operations senior vice-president Bob Clevely and eastern region director Paul Mancini.
Desmarais said the LCBO is conservatively anticipating increased product sales by 30 per cent in Renfrew.
If the number is higher, she says the store is ready to accommodate customer demand, with a fourth level of shelving readily available for installation.
The LCBO will also continue to support community events, said CEO Peter, noting that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has raised $6.2 million in the past year for various charities, including hospitals, the United Way, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada.
The pride is what really counted on opening day, added the CEO.
“You’ll always remember opening this store. Any time you open a new store, it’s for the people who do it. It’s their baby for a long time …You have a beautiful store.”
The new store also features a tasting bar, to accommodate the periodic promotion of certain products, and a gift section.
At least one thing isn’t new, though. The Renfrew LCBO phone number remains 613-432-2383.