Toronto Mike

How To Sell Alcohol From Your Ontario Convenience Store Legally

As Ontario moves forward with its plan to expand alcohol sales, convenience store owners in Toronto, the GTA and Ontario at large have a new opportunity to sell alcohol legally. This development provides a significant boost for local businesses, but it also introduces a host of regulatory requirements. Here’s a comprehensive guide to navigating the legal landscape and ensuring your store complies with all necessary regulations.

Overview of Changes

Ontario is set to significantly expand where alcohol can be sold. By August 2024, up to 450 grocery stores will also be able to sell ready-to-drink beverages and larger pack sizes. Following this, eligible convenience stores will start selling beer, cider, wine, and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages from September 5, 2024. By October 31, 2024, all eligible grocery and big-box stores will offer a full range of alcoholic beverages​ (Global News)​​ (The Seeker)​.

This expansion is touted as the largest increase in consumer choice and convenience in Ontario’s alcohol market since the end of prohibition nearly 100 years ago. Premier Doug Ford emphasized that Ontario consumers deserve the same convenience as those in other provinces, allowing them to purchase alcohol from their local convenience stores easily.

Steps to Obtain an AGCO Liquor Sales Licence

  1. Determine Eligibility: Ensure your store meets the eligibility criteria set by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). This includes complying with zoning laws and community standards.
  2. Application Preparation: The application process involves detailed paperwork, including a floor plan of your store, evidence of your store’s compliance with zoning laws, and proof of your good character. Comprehensive documentation is critical to avoid delays.
  3. Submission: Submit your application via the iAGCO online portal. Ensure all required documents are included.
  4. Inspection and Approval: Once submitted, your store may undergo an inspection to ensure compliance with AGCO regulations.
  5. Staff Training: Staff must be trained in responsible alcohol sales, typically through the Smart Serve program. This training ensures that all employees understand how to sell alcohol responsibly and comply with legal requirements.
  6. Ongoing Compliance: Once you have your licence, maintaining compliance is crucial. This includes adhering to set hours of sale, preventing sales to minors and intoxicated individuals, and keeping accurate sales records. Regular audits and checks by the AGCO will ensure ongoing adherence to these regulations.

Challenges and How Substance Law Can Help

Navigating the AGCO liquor licence application process can be complex. Substance Law specializes in helping convenience store owners obtain their liquor licences. They provide expert guidance to ensure your application meets all regulatory requirements, increasing your chances of approval.

Substance Law offers services such as:

  • Eligibility Assessments: Determine if your store qualifies to sell alcohol.
  • Application Assistance: Help with preparing and submitting the necessary documents.
  • Compliance Checks: Ensure your store meets all AGCO standards before inspection.
  • Training Support: Guidance on required staff training programs.

For personalized assistance, call Substance Law at 647-371-0032 or visit

Detailed Responsibilities and Compliance

Adhering to Set Hours of Sale: The AGCO stipulates specific hours during which alcohol can be sold. It’s vital to adhere to these hours to avoid penalties.

Preventing Sales to Minors and Intoxicated Individuals: Strict measures must be in place to ensure alcohol is not sold to minors or visibly intoxicated individuals. This includes verifying the age of all customers who appear to be under the legal drinking age.

Maintaining Accurate Sales Records: Keeping thorough and accurate records of all alcohol sales is essential for compliance. These records may be audited by the AGCO to ensure adherence to legal standards.

Ongoing Staff Training: Continuous training for staff is necessary to stay updated on best practices and legal requirements for selling alcohol. Programs like Smart Serve provide essential training for responsible alcohol sales.

Benefits of the Expansion

The expansion of alcohol sales to convenience stores is expected to have several benefits:

  • Increased Consumer Convenience: Customers will have more options to purchase alcohol at convenient locations, similar to other provinces.
  • Economic Opportunities: This change opens new revenue streams for convenience stores, potentially increasing profitability.
  • Support for Local Producers: The new regulations will allow more local craft brewers and distillers to sell their products in a broader range of retail outlets, supporting local businesses.


Selling alcohol from your Toronto convenience store presents a valuable opportunity, but it requires careful adherence to legal requirements. By following the AGCO’s application process and seeking expert help from Substance Law, you can ensure your store becomes a compliant and profitable alcohol retailer.

For more information or assistance with your AGCO liquor licence application, visit or call 647-371-0032. Additionally, for more detailed guidance on obtaining a licence to sell liquor in a convenience store, visit the Substance Law website.

By staying informed and following the proper steps, you can successfully navigate the complexities of alcohol sales regulations and take advantage of this new business opportunity.

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