Wine Rack Store - © Wine Rack

COVID-19 Experience: Booze Delivery From Wine Rack

It’s taken 9 months and the onset of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic for the traditionally puritanical Ontario Alcohol regulation system to loosen up enough to allow booze delivery in a cooperative effort involving Wine Rack stores and the Skip The Dishes food delivery service…

Skip The Dishes - © Vernon Morning StarSkip The Dishes is one of the leading Resto food delivery services…

The Province of Ontario (for American readers: a Canadian province is like a U.S. state) has long had a reputation as a sticky, rule-bound jurisdiction when it comes to the retail sale of Beer, Wine and Spirits. Only since the millennium has the system relaxed enough to allow the sale of Wine and Beer at supermarkets, and some of us were still surprised to see the rules eased earlier during the COVID-19 crisis to allow the delivery of Wine and Beer with food orders.

Now, according to a joint news release, Ontario’s Wine Rack Wine boutique network has partnered with the popular Skip The Dishes food delivery service to deliver – wait for it – just booze.

The source

Wine Rack (WR) is the retail boutique arm of Arterra Wines, which is a cooperative including top, award-winning Canadian brands like Jackson-Triggs, Inniskilin, OPEN, Bodacious, Naked Grape, Growers Cider, Cartier and many more. It’s 160+ boutique locations are now almost entirely located inside large Ontario supermarket outlets, though some remain standalone, in tonier neighbourhoods. You can order Wine, Cider, Craft Beers, Coolers and other associated products.

“Delivery is increasingly becoming an important part of our business at Wine Rack, as our customers’ expectations and purchase habits are shifting,” Jon Purdy, Senior Brand Manager of Arterra Wines Canada, said in a news release. “Efficient and safe delivery is important to us and the expertise and technology that fuels the Skip network makes them the perfect partner to deliver our products.”

The service

‘STD’ used to be almost universally known as the acronym for a collection of conditions that were rarely referred to in polite company by their proper long-form name. Now, though, ‘STD’ simply means – especially to the younger generations, as Skip The Dishes, one of the largest world-wide restaurant food delivery services. STD and Wine Rack are now working together to bring you the best of both gustatory worlds, delivering food from thousands of resto partners, and alcohol directly to customers from 34 WR stores in Toronto, and over 100 locations across Ontario.

According to the news release, “with the Holiday season being one the busiest times of the year, this partnership conveniently helps customers social distance, avoid long line ups and shop their favourite local wines and refreshments from the comfort of home.” It also reminds us that booze – especially a nice bottle of Wine – makes a great gift (especially if you’re buying for someone who already has everything they want or need).

My take

I have some concerns about the expansion of delivery services for Wine, Beer, and associated products (not including Spirits and domestic Beer). I’ve already remarked, in this space, on sales figure reports that show folks have been buying (and, presumably, drinking) more alcohol than previously during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s not a healthy trend, though I suspect nobody has gone from being a cautious social drinker to a day-drinking souse as a result of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, ‘Happy Hour’ is self-reported by drinkers to be starting earlier and earlier in the day and, in some cases, carrying on right through the supper hour and into the evening, when more folks are vegging in front of their TVs bingeing on streaming movie services.

I’m also annoyed that, for the sake of convenience, more people have been and will be paying out considerably more for their home-delivered booze than they would if they went out to the stores and picked it up themselves, due to steep delivery-service fees. And, if the booze delivery service is structured the same as the food delivery schemes, then the Wine Rack operators’ profits are also being hammered by an amount equal to ‘their share’ of the delivery fees. We’ll wait and see how the scheme fares, especially in the longer term, after the novelty wears off…

~ Maggie J.