You can hear the giggles in the accounts receivable department management meetings at Ontario's dynamically named "Beer Store," can't you. Imagine having someone pay you to make a profit off of their product. As Josh Rubin explains in the Toronto Star that is how things work when craft brewers want to put something into system:
The current User Agreement, unveiled in Nov. 2009, included several changes small brewers say makes it harder to compete. Among them are a rise in listing fees, and having The Beer Store pay breweries for their products monthly rather than weekly. It costs $77,000 to list one product across the 438-store chain, up from roughly $50,000 under the old agreement.
Listing fee? The massive ones charge $77,000 to stock smaller competitor's beer? Not that I needed another reason to buy my beer in New York, Quebec and even at the LCBO but the government's complete abdication of the mass beer market by handing mass brewers the key to a retail monopoly is waaay up there. And how do you know that you are powerless before the gaping maw of a monopoly backed by government regulation? Well, as Josh notes, one hint is when you are negotiating with them they state haven't been negotiating with you. Amazing.
Fortunately, even though the top three private brewers control 85% to 90% of Ontario's retail sales in this way, there is little of interest to find there. Maybe a six of Unibroue once a year but for the most part the selection is a sea of dull macro gak sameness, the prices offer the consumer no greater break than craft brewers and even the inability to touch or even see the thing you are buying until after you have paid is only fun if you are a temperance era re-enactor.
Yet they do make money. Gotta give them that.