the bottles are back

Yes! I’ve done it. After a day of going to work, working, coming home, making dinner, then going to the Victoria Sketch Club’s 100 year anniversary Art Show, and writing a paper on investment strategy in the PC aggregate market, I actually have time for talking about this.
The Pop Shoppe is a company that has made pop for a long time. I think their deal was that you could buy a crate of pop in glass bottle form, take it home, drink it, and then bring the bottle back to be re-used. Ahead of their time maybe. My uncle always used to have a crate in the basement and he’d always let us raid it at family get-togethers while the grown ups would drink Adult Drinks. About 20 years has passed since I had seen these bottles around regularly and I hadn’t thought much of them, until I recently noticed them at the Market on Yates. I did do a double-take.
I don’t drink or crave pop at all, not the way I did when I was a kid. Tonight, I bought this pop as a reward for myself for doing some work I needed to do. Simple pleasure really, but it kept me motivated this evening. I wouldn’t have bought just any old pop though – this is a kick-back to some great memories and the brand is just so damn cool in a retro way. Yes there is an emotional attachment there.
The pop itself is actually flatter than I remember it. Maybe they’ve changed their formulas, maybe I’ve got a flat bottle, maybe some things are best left to memory. But let me have another sip – no, not best left to memory. Mmm this is good cream soda.
The bottles are different now than they used to be – taller, more normal. They used to be short and stout, at least in my memory. Also new: a URL on the back, Made in Burlington, Ontario.
Maybe they realized they had some brand equity but the refilling/crate business model wasn’t working out for them, or wasn’t profitable. Or maybe this was the only way to relaunch their brand, I don’t know. I did find them also in Wellburns at Pandora and Cook.
Aha, found it in their history:

After a few years of slow sales, The Pop Shoppe shares stop being traded on February 3rd. It’s a sad day. Although head office is no longer, some Pop Shoppes stay around, but close over the next few years.
An entrepreneur named Brian Alger resurrects The Pop Shoppe. Brian had grown up on The Pop Shoppe and was very keen on bringing it back, and getting into mainstream stores. Work began on formulating the same great tasting pop that the brand was known for.

Anyone else remember this pop?

Join the Conversation


  1. Yes! I remember it well.
    As I treat, I enjoy the Blue Sky Cola at Market on Yates. It’s on sale right now for 50 cents a can. It’s real cane sugar, and regardless of if that’s actually better for you (it’s still refined sugar, right?) it tastes great.
    Certainly not for every day though.

  2. Each month my Dad would give my brother and I 5$ that we were allowed to spend on pop from the Pop Shoppe. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was enough for about four 750ml bottles back then, and it was great.

  3. Interesting, I’ve never had that pop before. My mom was always a Coca-Cola head so I guess we always had that. I like trying different and uncommon sodas from Market on Yates though, they have a decent selection.

  4. I’ve heard of that pop before but never tried it. I have a couple favourites such as Jones’ Cola and Blue Sky Cola. Delicious! Both cane sugar.
    It’s always sad to hear about companies like this from our childhood that are never quite the same! Hopefully they keep on truckin’.

  5. Indeed I remember the Pop Shoppe, the return and reuse policy, etc. The bottling plant was by Shelbourne and Church, near McDonald’s as I recall.
    I saw some of these at Zeller’s a few months back and had to pick up a few bottles for nostalgia’s sake, just like you say. Lime and Cola — unimpressive. But it was nice to be reminded of those old pop stubbies. Give me a Dad’s Root Beer!

  6. Graham, I bet you had a good time typing Coke head and then deciding that probably wasn’t what you were going for… 🙂
    I don’t know that pop. But then I’m not a native Islander. My thrill from the past is and always has been Coke in glass bottles, which as far as I’ve found, can only be bought in Thrifty’s (at least a couple years ago) and Mexico.

  7. THE POP SHOPPE! Yes! All-caps worthy! =)
    Every Saturday, two friends and I would hop on our bikes and ride to the arcade on Shelbourne, right by The Pop Shoppe. I think Root Beer was my fave at the time.
    My wife, in her childhood, remembers getting some from the Station Road location. Her grandparents always kept some at their place for her and her brother, too.
    Wonderful, wonderful. Going to seek some out tomorrow. Black Cherry FTW! Thanks, Davin!

  8. When I was kid we had Pick-a-Pop. Similar concept. My Grandpa had his flat in the basement as well, and we raided just like you – when the grown-ups had their drinks.
    The beauty of it was that you got to choose lots of different flavours – not a flat full of Coke.
    Ah, the good ol’ days.

  9. My friend and I used to drive up to the Chow Bros corner store in Duncan (from Victoria) just the get Pop Shoppe. We did all through the 90’s and even into 2000, until Chow Bros closed down. They used to have punk shows in the back room too, against stacked crates of Pop Shoppe Pop.
    I know the attachment well.
    There was also a weird Pop Shoppe outlet in Langford that only sold the big bottles, and they were running into the late 90’s as well.
    Glad to know where to get some Black Cherry locally now though!

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