The inner harbor beer shop will close at the end of the month

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Customers who frequent the Cataraqui Street Beer Store were greeted with a sign earlier this month informing them that the store, which has been a fixture of the Inner Harbor neighborhood for more than 60 years, is closing.

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“To our loyal customers, this store will be permanently closed effective January 31, 2020,” the sign reads.

The sign also included a map showing other Beer Store locations in Kingston, with the nearest store being at 500 Princess Street on University Avenue, two kilometers away.

“We are always looking to relocate and build new stores where possible and that makes sense, including in Kingston,” MidtownPR’s Bill Walker wrote in an email on behalf of Beer Store headquarters.

No local employees will be made redundant, he said.

“We also met with every employee at this store to talk about the closure. All employees will either transfer or be offered employment at another store in Kingston,” Walker said.

Walker did not reveal what the rationale for closing the store was and did not respond to a follow-up email from the Whig-Standard.

The store, which opened in the 1950s, is a destination for people who live in the neighborhood and may not have a vehicle to travel to other beer stores in Kingston.

John Poulin lives near the Beer Store and shops there a few times a week.

“It’s unfortunate. I don’t know where the empties are going to go,” he said Tuesday morning. “We’re going to have to lug around empties a few miles to University and Princess streets.

“It’s a busy store and there are more things closing. We lost the downtown Tim Hortons. What am I going to do now, drink some tea?

Poulin’s roommate has a car he can use, but he said he prefers to drive around the neighborhood to get his beer.

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“It’s mostly for people who walk. It’s a very residential area,” he said. “It’s a shame, but apparently they know what they’re doing.”

Neighborhood residents can still get their foam at the Barrack Street LCBO, which sells limited brands of beer. But the LCBO does not accept empties.

The Cataraqui Street store has made headlines a few times over the years.

In December 2000, Razor the police dog and his handler, Darren Keuhl, found a suspect hiding in the store’s warehouse after breaking into a house on nearby Rideau Street. In 2011, area residents complained to the city that tractor-trailers were making too much noise when delivering stock beyond hours permitted by a city by-law.

Customer John Seymour has a vehicle and can drive to the Beer Store.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s a business,” said Seymour, who has been a “lifelong” customer.

He said the closure would bother him a bit.

“But you just owe.”

Guy Lagace frequently buys beer and returns empties to the Cataraqui Street branch.

Tuesday afternoon, he was carrying a large plastic bag containing cans to return to the store.

Lagace, who has lived in Kingston for about 10 years, is originally from St. Boniface, Manitoba. He was injured when he was attacked last year while walking along Montreal Street and now uses a walker to get around the neighborhood.

“Most of the time in the summer I walk here. I take the magic path and (the walk is) short,” he said. “Now I have to go downtown and take a bus to go to the university (Avenue location) or the other.”

Lagace, who is on a fixed income, said the $3.25 cost for a bus ticket each way is a factor for him.

“It’s embarrassing like that.”

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The Beer Store at the corner of Cataraqui and Bagot streets will be closed at the end of January. (Ian MacAlpine/The Whig-Standard) Ian MacAlpine/Kingston Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network