A Yorkton hotel owner, who opened a liquor shop last year, says he’s not selling his Retail Store Permit (RSP) anytime soon.
Ray Sharp owns the Yorkton Hotel, a historic 115-year-old building with a tavern permit — including an offsale endorsement — that was grandfathered in when the province switched to the new model of RSPs.
“Anybody who had that offsale endorsement automatically was able to open a retail store, if (they) wanted to,” he told 980 CJME Thursday.
When Sharp learned a two-year moratorium on the sale of RSPs would end Oct. 8, he seized the opportunity to move from a pub to a liquor retail storefront.
“It was more feasible to do it before this moratorium was up because (after Oct. 8) it’s open to anybody and everybody who can come in,” Sharp said.
“Obviously, the competition will be a lot higher. It made a lot more sense to be established before that happened to try to weather the storm.”
While the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) doesn’t have immediate plans to add any new permits within municipalities, the end of the moratorium opens the market to bigger players.
Retail giant Loblaws, which owns Real Canadian Superstore, has already started building its liquor space in Yorkton, along with three others in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.
It’s implied the permits for those stores have been negotiated with current RSP holders in those municipalities, with the transfers only taking effect Oct. 8.
Sharp said after all the work it took to setup Rayzr’s Cellar, it would need to be an “awfully high” price for him to sell the RSP.
As it stands, the hotel owner could name his own price for potential buyers.
According to the SLGA, government involvement in the process amounts to background checks into potential buyers, and assessing security at any new retail locations where licences are transferred.
But Sharp — who formerly operated Rayzr’s Pub — noted a decline in the amount of people who actually go out to a bar for drinks, especially after the introduction of a lower blood-alcohol threshold in Saskatchewan.
“The laws have caused people to just rather pick up their alcohol and take it home, than to sit and drink in an establishment,” he said.
“For us to sell that licence is kind of almost writing our own death warrant for the future because the opportunity to sell a pub or bar is getting less and less all the time.”
Despite the impending move of a larger liquor player into the city of over 16,300 people, Sharp is optimistic his business will remain competitive.
“(Loblaws liquor) is going to be a big hit here for everybody just for the convenience of having it right inside the grocery store,” Sharp said.
“We’re hoping, because we’re operating a more personalized service … it’s not going to affect us as much.”
Rayzr’s Cellar supplies, delivers and sets up alcohol for events, such as weddings and reunions.
Currently, there are more than 700 RSP holders in Saskatchewan.