Day in the Life of a Liquor Retailer: Ron Cheeke

By: Danielle Leroux

Liquor retailer and businessman Ron Cheeke has ‘been at this a long time.’

Based on Vancouver Island, Cheeke started his successful and storied career in real estate in 1990. During his first month, he sold 10 houses. “I had $45,000 in my pocket after all expenses and that got me excited. It showed me that money would be an important factor in my life.”

In 2000, he entered the hospitality industry when he bought The Loghouse Pub. He remained the sole owner until selling it in 2018.

In 2006, Cheeke added on the Loghouse Liquor Store, which was attached to the pub, and he ran the store until 2013. In 2013, he built Liquor Planet, the biggest private store in the province at 13,280 sq. ft. The store continues to be run by Cheeke and his family today.

Cheeke also opened the Axe + Barrel Brewing Company; it was sold prior to COVID and now operates as the Millstream Beverage Company under new ownership.

Cheeke is also involved in the cannabis industry. In 2018, he got a cannabis license in Langford and built a separate building onto Liquor Planet to open Honeycomb Cannabis with Mike Forbes. The cannabis retail store is now solely owned by Forbes and Cheeke is the landlord.

“I pick strategic locations for my businesses.”

His background in real estate, business acumen, and mindset have all contributed to his success. “I pick strategic locations for my businesses where growth is going to be imminent and go up and up,” Cheeke says. “I do all of my own projections for the bank and assist in appraisals.”

However, the success hasn’t come without hard work. “I’ve had to crawl and scrape for every dime I have made,” Cheeke explains. “I have also learned there is really no failure, only feedback. I have been lucky enough to understand that, through the good times and bad.”

“There is really no failure, only feedback.”

When he built Liquor Planet, Cheeke had many doubters. “Everybody told me I was building too big a store. I was told it wouldn’t work with all the dinosaurs. I believe it is better to step out of the box.” Liquor Planet has over 60 dinosaurs inside (many animatronic), including a head that sticks out 15 feet on the front of the store, plus a custom-made, 7-foot aquarium.

Cheeke wanted to create a space where kids would feel comfortable. “I believe that if a parent wants to come in the store and get a case of a beer, they should feel OK bringing their kid in. It is great to see kids faces light up—there is not just alcohol in here, but other things to look at. Low and behold, it has really worked.”

Despite these multiple ventures, Cheeke says he is now 90% retired and proud to see his children and staff working in the businesses. “I am confident they can keep the ball rolling. I only spend 2-3 hours in the office every week to make sure everything is OK.”

Cheeke splits his time between his waterfront property on the Malahat and Mesa, Arizona, where he plays baseball, pickleball, and golf, fishes, and ‘wheels and deals’ cars for fun. “I have been very fortunate to have my health,” he says. “I believe in working on the other side of my ‘historical tree’ now. There were things that I missed out on and couldn’t do when I was building my businesses. These are things I want to do now. I consider it not being retired but being able to kick back with the means to do whatever I want to do over the next 40 years of my life. Yes, 102 is my goal!”