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New shop offers booze without the hangover

A new store on Academy Road selling beer, wine, and the hard stuff is creating a buzz, but it’s not coming from the products on the shelves.

Shane Halliburton and his wife opened The Sobr Market a couple of months ago, following a pop-up version earlier this year in the Exchange District. He says it's the first bottle shop of its kind in Winnipeg, maybe even Canada, to sell non-alcoholic drinks exclusively.

Halliburton said he stopped drinking alcohol two years ago, but couldn't find another beverage he liked. That’s when he started ordering non-alcoholic booze from around the world, a case at a time, but it was costly.

"My wife and I kind of thought there are other people in the same boat like looking for these same drinks and why not just start bringing them in for everyone to enjoy,” said Halliburton.

Halliburton says the faux-booze cans and bottles look no different than their alcohol-based cousins for a reason.

"A lot of the people drinking these drinks want to look like they're just at the event, at the party, at the game, enjoying a drink just like everybody else," Halliburton said.

Dionne Potapinski is one of those consumers. “We just started really trying them this summer, have a pool, watch games, camp,” she said.

A competitive power lifter, Potapinski wants to cut out the calories and sugar while still fitting in.

"When I train, I just cannot have that much alcohol in my body when I want to recoup,” she said.

Research shows there could be a market for The Sobr Market. New proposed guidelines recommend no more than two alcoholic drinks per week for health reasons.

Recent studies show that people, in particular under 30, are drinking less, especially when non-alcoholic brands are available.

"The younger generation really seems more conscious of alcohol and limiting their amount or just completely avoiding alcohol," Halliburton said.

The Sobr Market has been busy so far, with customers even coming from out of province and south of the border. Halliburton said expanding to an alcohol-free bar or lounge could be next on tap.

“I will tell you that the seed has already been planted,” he said. Top Stories

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