Got Beer? Drizly Delivers!



If you live in other, more civilized parts of the country, you may already know about Drizly, but for us Rhode Island Luddites, Drizly is a website/app where you can shop for alcohol online and have it delivered to your home.

I bet I know what you’re thinking. “What an amazing idea! Why didn’t I think of it? This would have been amazing to have last Halloween when Carl drank all the tequila and got sick in a plastic pumpkin, so we were then out of tequila.”

But the slightly more enlightened and mature are probably thinking, “How is this legal?”, “Is this service offered in my area?” and “What kind of outrageous delivery fees are there?”

Drizly works in a pretty slick way that’s totally legal and actually profitable for local liquor stores. It doesn’t bypass distributors, so it’s completely cool with the three-tier system. The way it works is that a liquor store will become a Drizly partner. There’s a minor fee involved, but then that liquor store gets some cool stuff, like an advanced ID checker. Now when someone within the agreed-upon service area orders something on Drizly, they shop the inventory of that store, pay that price and have the alcohol delivered by someone at the store. The liquor store keeps all the money from the transaction, the customer gets the alcohol and everybody’s happy.

So the next question must be, “Is this available in Rhode Island?” Yes-ish. As of now, Drizly is set up to service most of downtown Providence, the East Side, Barrington, Southern Pawtucket and for the summer, Newport. It’s a small area compared to the overall state, but it’s growing. With every liquor store that signs up, their area of coverage will increase.

Delivery times vary, depending on the area, and it may never be as speedy as your local cheap pizza slingers, but the website promises between 20 and 40 minutes. I spoke with Doug Berman, the Northeast Market Manager for Drizly, who said that right now Drizly’s RI delivery time is probably closer to an hour, depending on where and when. After all, they’re still establishing a foot-hold here in little Rhody.

The bonus here is, not only can you get alcohol delivered to you, but you can get it delivered to someone else as a gift since the online transaction takes care of the money. Want to send a bottle of champagne to someone for their anniversary? Drizly can make that happen. A gift bottle of scotch for that cold, glaring father-in-law? Drizly can do that. A case of Natty Lite to the under-aged freshman? Of course not! Drizly drivers check IDs before delivery, and don’t deliver to intoxicated persons.

So where did this wonderful idea come from? Well, two friends, Nick Rellas and Justin Robinson, founded Drizly as a way to use our lovely 21st century technology to legally deliver alcohol. So many other services and products are available online now, it’s almost a wonder it had taken this long for someone to come up with this. So, working within the legalities of alcohol sales, Drizly is technically more of an online transaction handler. They need the help of liquor stores to succeed, and in doing so, help them generate more revenue, boosting business for everyone. It’s actually pretty well-thought-out, and has so far received the blessings of distributors and liquor retailers alike.

So what’s the down side? Well, if you’re a liquor retailer, you’ll probably have to hire someone to make deliveries in addition to paying the monthly Drizly licensing fee. But the website and app encourages tipping the drivers, and let’s face it, someone showing up to your door with beer is someone you’re going to be happy to see. And unlike Uber drivers, or even pizza delivery drivers, there’s actually a low chance of these drivers being robbed. They won’t have big neon signs on their vehicles and they don’t carry much cash, so to the outside world, it just looks like someone dropping by a friend’s house with a bottle of wine. This may change, but at present, it’s sort of protected by anonymity. You certainly wouldn’t want to advertise that you might have a case of Johnny Walker Blue in the trunk. Of course, if you’re a retailer, you probably wouldn’t put such a high-end item up on the delivery list anyway.

So after looking into it, Drizly looks pretty legit. It provides a completely legal service, goes out of its way to comply with the law, works with retailers, and helps cut down on potential drunk driving. It might not be for everybody, and with every new system there’s bound to be flaws, but I’m excited about this. If nothing else, it’s a great experiment. I’m eager to see how it pans out.

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