The pros and cons of local alcohol delivery

Convenience, prestige and accessibility all factor in

Illustration by Justin Ladia

Shrugging Doctor Brewing Company, a new alcohol delivery service which launched Jan. 27, is hoping to reshape the way people in Winnipeg obtain their booze.

The company, owned by Willows Christopher and Zach Isaacs, currently only sells a sugar wine. They are planning to offer more of their originally home-brewed product which includes saskatoon wine, a sweet mead and apple cider. 

“We (were) making really unique and innovative products that really weren’t that popular in a North American marketplace,” Christopher says. “We are working on products marketed to more premium wine drinkers and people who appreciate quality when they’re purchasing liquor.”

Christopher says home delivery liquor is something that is already being enjoyed across America and larger Canadian cities. He hopes to bring Manitoba into the age of similar online purchasing and delivery services like Amazon and Uber. 

“I’ve always been a fan of disrupting and innovating,” Christopher says. “Our little tag for Shrugging Doctor is ‘revolutionizing liquor,’ because that’s what we’re really trying to do in Manitoba – bring the industry into 2017 … when everything is right to your phone.”

The pair are both 20 years old, which gives a bit of insight into their target market. 

“The millennial market is the one I know how to market to. That’s the one I see every day, I live with, I drink with,” Christopher says. 

Christopher hopes to eliminate barriers to purchasing alcohol, especially for those who use public transportation and don’t want to buy expensive drinks at the bar. He hopes Shrugging Doctor will be able to better cater to house parties and larger at-home events.

But when eliminating barriers to regulated substances such as alcohol, Curtis Pankratz, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Winnipeg, cautions against using these services so liberally and motivated by what he coins to be a technology coolness factor.

“Alcohol is a dangerous, dangerous drug, it can … be very harmful to some people,” Pankratz says. “There will always be someone who’s hurt by increased access to an addictive drug, which is really what it ends up being, increased access to an addictive drug.”

Pankratz says just because it can have bad consequences for some, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. It’s just one that shouldn’t be used as colloquially as its ordering service. 

“Really, the coolness is the use of technology, but the uniqueness isn’t the technology. It’s not really delivery either. (It’s) the branding that is unique.”

Pankratz also explains what he says is a contradictory fact – stimulating a social market that is focused on staying at home, connected to the world only by a phone or a computer. 

“I think in that generation, there’s a lot of pride and prestige in showing how you can use your phone,” Pankratz says. 

Pankratz believes that Shrugging Doctor’s branding – which is based on the notion of prestige and ease of ordering – will be the driving factor behind the brand’s success.

Published in Volume 71, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 9, 2017)

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