Mac's 'Convenience Store of the Future'

New Thamesford, Ontario, store to serve as model for alcohol sales

THAMESFORD, Ontario -- Calling it the "convenience store of the future," the Mac's Convenience Store in Thamesford in southwestern Ontario represents a $3 million investment that the company said is attracting customers from as far as 50 kilometers (more than 30 miles) away, and registering "impressive" sales.

"We're immensely proud of our Thamesford location," said Tom Moher, vice president of operations at Mac's Convenience Stores Inc. "It's the convenience store of the future."

Moher would know. He oversees all 547 Mac's stores in Ontario, and each year speaks with hundreds of store owners, and thousands of customers.

"The customers who visit our Thamesford store are especially enthusiastic about the fact they can purchase beer, wine and spirits here," said Moher. "They love the ease and convenience of one-stop shopping--they can gas up the car, pick up their food items, and buy their beer, wine and spirits for the weekend, all in one visit. For today's time-pressed shoppers, it's a big advantage."

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The Thamesford location is one of two Mac's "agency" stores in Ontario, which means they are permitted to sell beer, wine and spirits under the province's Liquor Control Act. Mac's has operated an agency store in Craigleith since 2002.

Moher said he foresees the day when alcoholic products are sold at Mac's stores throughout the province.

"Certainly, the people of Ontario want it," he said. "A recent survey conducted by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA), indicates that 67% of Ontarians want to be able to purchase alcohol products at their local convenience store."

More than 115,000 Ontarians have signed a "Free Our Beer" petition, accessible at c-stores throughout the province and online, requesting that the government of Ontario permit beer, wine and liquor sales at convenience stores throughout the province.

The highly successful "Free Our Beer" campaign, organized by the OCSA, is generating a great deal of attention.

"The people of Ontario are telling their politicians that it's time to modernize alcohol retailing in this province," said Moher. "Mac's is fully supportive of that change; we want to be part of an expanded system that generates additional revenue for the Ontario government. And the benefits go beyond additional revenue - they include the money the government can save by letting the private sector build facilities for the sale of beer, wine and liquor."

Moher said that Mac's is keen to build convenience stores like Thamesford throughout Ontario.

Currently, the company's CT division operates 665 corporate stores in Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, which can sell beer.

The company also sells beer at 3,000 stores in the United States, and 1,400 in Europe.

Mac's Convenience Stores is part of Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which currently operates a network of 5,906 convenience stores, 4,128 of which dispense motor fuel, located in 11 large geographic markets, including eight in the United States covering 43 states (under the Circle K banner), and three in Canada covering all 10 provinces (under the Mac's and Couche-Tard banners).