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Liquor can be sold at barbershops, salons across P.E.I. as of Saturday

Sean Aylward, left, owner of the Humble Barber, with Finance Minister Heath MacDonald. Aylward was recently informed that changes to the P.E.I. Liquor Control Act he’s been fighting for will soon be implemented.
Sean Aylward, left, owner of the Humble Barber, with Finance Minister Heath MacDonald. ©JOURNAL PIONEER - Colin MacLean

As of Feb. 17, barbershops on P.E.I. will be able to apply for liquor licences.

Finance Minister Heath MacDonald was in Summerside Monday to hand-deliver a letter containing the news to local businessman Sean Aylward, owner of the Humble Barber.

Aylward had tried to get a liquor licence for his Summerside barbershop in 2015 but was turned down because the Liquor Control Act did not specifically mention shops like his as suitable venues. He’s been pushing for changes to the act ever since. He even started selling non-alcoholic beer as something of a protest.

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It was a relief, he said, when he was informed recently that changes were in the works, and he would soon be able to offer this new service to his customers.

“It’s about time,” he said.

“It feels good, it feels proper – I just can’t believe it took so long.”

Aylward added that he’s not looking to open a bar, he’s just hoping to be able to offer something extra for his customers who come in looking for a certain kind of atmosphere.

“To provide a better value, a better experience,” he said.

MacDonald, who recently moved to finance from the economic development portfolio, said efforts are underway to update the act as a whole, but in the meantime, making this relatively small change was a priority for him.

“I know it’s been a long fight for you, wanting to provide this service to your clientele, which I think is important to help grow your business,” MacDonald said to Aylward.

“You are presenting here an experience, and I think this is going to be an inclusive experience along with a liquor licence – which I know you’ve been very passionate about over the last two years.”

There are two Humble Barber shops, one in Summerside and one in Charlottetown.

Aylward said he has already made a lot of the necessary preparations for Feb. 17, and expects to have beer taps installed in the coming days.

He’s already expecting to have to hire at least one new barber to help keep up with the new business a liquor licence will bring in, and he suspects he might have to hire more help in the future.

It’s a good move, not only for his business, but for all those like it, as well as local suppliers who will have a new venue to sell their product, he said.

Monday’s announcement brings the total number of Canadian provinces that allow liquor sales in barbershops and salons up to nine.

P.E.I.’s executive council also recently approved changes to the liquor act to allow the sale of kombucha, a locally produced fermented tea that had been red flagged because it contains trace amounts of alcohol.

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