First non-alcoholic beverage store opens in Winnipeg

The Sobr Market opens in the Exchange District, offering Winnipeggers alternatives to alcoholic drinks. Temi Olatunde reports.

By Temi Olatunde

You don’t need an ID to buy wine or beer at a new downtown shop. Winnipeg’s first non-alcoholic beverage store is now open for business

Jessie and her husband Shane Halliburton are co-founders of the The Sobr Market on McDermot Avenue, offering a variety of liquor alternatives.

“We carry beer, wine, sparkling wine. As for spirits go, we carry rums and gins and vodka and whiskey, bourbon, and tequilas. Almost anything that you think of in the alcohol world. It’s either here or it’s coming,” said Jessie Halliburton.

The store opened just weeks after a report released by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction recommending Canadians consume no more than two drinks per week, down from the previous two drinks per day recommendation.

Halliburton says this has prompted more discussions on sober drinking.

RELATED: Will Canadians really accept two drinks a week?

“Going from what they said, was the daily recommendation to. Now that’s actually your weekly recommendation. So that’s a significant change,” explained Halliburton.

“Even having a conversation or coming out and say, no, I don’t drink alcohol or I’m living a sober life, it had this stigma attached to it and now it just seems so much more open. And even now having the options, it’s and especially with the new health guidelines, it’s opened the conversation and people are okay to now say, yeah, I’m going to try this.

While there’s no restriction for customers under 18, Halliburton says they intend to keep the dialogue open with younger customers.

“Perhaps it’s someone who is just under 18 going to a party they don’t want to consume, and they’re just looking for an option to kind of keep them under the radar, which you know, we’ve all been there. We’ve all kind of gone through that period in our life where there is the pressure to drink.”

With their expansion from an online shop to in-store shopping, Halliburton says the feedback has been positive.

“For those that aren’t consuming alcohol, they are alternatives that some of them look the part, feel the part, some of them don’t mimic alcohol at all, but it still allows them to have an adult sophisticated beverage in hand when they choose, whether it be in a social setting or even at home.”

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