Offered at a competitive price and made by surprisingly distinguished manufacturers, Costo's exclusive Kirkland-branded alcoholic beverages are one of the many benefits of a Costco membership. However, anyone living in a state with more tightly controlled alcohol laws will know that not every Costco is able to have its full selection of wines and liquors — what you might not know is that there's actually a chain of standalone Costco liquor stores made exclusively to operate around regional alcohol sale restrictions.
With its own website independent of Costco's Canadian or American sites, Costco Liquor is a unique phenomenon that only exists in Alberta, one of Canada's prairie provinces. While it doesn't have the strictest alcohol regulations in the country, it does prohibit liquor from being sold outside of dedicated liquor stores — i.e., regular retailers like Costco aren't allowed to sell alcohol as part of its large stock of items. The province-exclusive Costco Liquor stores seem to be Costco Canada's solution to offer its liquor selection to customers while complying with regulations instead of simply keeping its alcohol products off its shelves in Alberta locations.
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A Simple Compromise
Scattered across the province, each of the handful of Costco Liquor locations are attached to a larger Costco Wholesale warehouse, but operate like a separate store. They can only be entered through an exterior entrance entirely separate from the main warehouse itself and may or may not have different operating hours. In addition, you don't need a Costco membership to shop there — in some ways, the liquor sale restrictions of Alberta actually make the Costco-exclusive liquor more accessible to the average consumer than in other provinces. It seems Costco Liquor stores truly are independent liquor stores that are attached to Costco warehouses.
So far, Alberta remains the only province to have this small extra chain of stores. While there was some news of Costco's plans to expand Costco Liquor into Saskatchewan — which had similar liquor sale restrictions — in 2019, it seems Costco has since been able to obtain the requisite permits to establish a liquor section inside its Saskatchewan locations instead of operating an entirely separate store. All the locations in other provinces are either able to also contain a liquor section inside the main store or aren't able to stock liquor at all per the provincial regulations, as places like British Columbia only allow the sale of alcohol from government-owned stores.
Exterior Costco Liquor Stores In The U.S.
There is an important distinction to make when it comes to alcohol availability at Costco: While Costco Canada Liquor as a chain and corporate entity is exclusive to Canada, many Costco locations across the U.S. also have external and separate liquor sections in order to comply with state laws. With different kinds of regulations across the country, every state is a veritable mix and match of whether Costco can sell only beer, wine, or include hard liquor, or whether you need a Costco membership to buy, and etcetera. Places like Georgia and Florida feature Costco locations with external liquor sections much like Costco Canada Liquor, while some locations in places such as Texas will partner with local businesses to establish an independent alcohol store in the same lot.
However, it seems that such external stores in the U.S. will more often be labeled as "Liquor Sales" or "Liquor" in lieu of an independent brand like Costco Canada Liquor. For now, it seems that the odd phenomenon of Costco Liquor as a standalone chain will be limited to the specific legal restrictions of Alberta alone.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.