Beer, spirits stop flowing at LCC stores
A computer error forced P.E.I.’s liquor stores to close temporarily on Saturday and created concern for drinkers throughout the province. The error, which was caused by a third-party security software update, forced all the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission (LCC) stores to close for the afternoon and led to a massive demand at the province’s agency stores as Islanders struggled to find a case of beer or bottle of wine for the night. Because the agency stores were not affected by the shutdown, vehicles lined up along St. Peter’s Road throughout the afternoon to get into Mel’s. It was also reported that Cooper’s Red and White in Eldon saw customers driving out from Charlottetown to stock up. Joy Larsen, manager of the Kinkora Irving agency store, said it was one of the store’s busiest days ever and even required calling in extra staff.
“It was extremely busy, it was non-stop,” said Larsen. “Storm days can be crazy, but that’s usually only for a few hours.” Larsen also noted a bit of irony because just last week she decided to switch her liquor orders from weekly to biweekly, leading to a larger-than-usual amount in the store.
“So I thought I’d have enough beer and liquor in here for two weeks,” said Larsen. “I don’t think we actually ran completely out of anything… but it definitely won’t last the full two weeks now.”
Larsen also thanked her staff as well as customers for their patience throughout the afternoon.
It wasn’t just the agency stores that saw a bump in business.
Several craft breweries in the province also sell bottles of beer on site.
Bruce McGaw, taproom manager at Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown, said the Allen Street brewery had a steady line-up throughout the day of both loyal and new customers.
“It was definitely great to get some people in that may not have already been exposed to craft beer,” said McGaw. “There were lots of people that came in today who were regulars, but a lot of people were new and they were very happy to still be able to buy their beer.”
Carl Adams, chief financial officer for the LCC, said the shutdown started around noon and was caused by a third-party software update.
Adams said the LCC computers reacted to the update like it would with a cyber attack and shut down to the outside world.
“It reacted the way it should have because it noticed an anomaly in the system we were running. So it shut off access to the outside world, which in turn shut down all of our lanes,” said Adams, noting it was the first closure of its kind for P.E.I. liquor stores. “This is the first time that’s ever happened and its good to see all the protocols worked and we had the proper treatment lined up... It’s surprising, we’re so computer dependent in this world today that even a small little glitch affects everything.”
Adams said IT staff worked to resolve the issue throughout the afternoon. Once the cause was identified, LCC computers had to download a new update before going back online.
Liquor stores began re-opening shortly after 6 p.m.