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Lakeview Alcohol Delivery: Qwiker Liquor Aims to Be GrubHub for Booze

By Serena Dai | March 20, 2014 6:44am
 Qwiker Liquor is aiming to be a GrubHub for alcohol delivery.
Qwiker Liquor is aiming to be a GrubHub for alcohol delivery.
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File: Getty/Tim Boyle

LAKEVIEW — A New York-based start-up wants to help Chicagoans get their booze delivered — and fast.

Qwiker Liquor launched in Chicago this week in hopes of becoming the GrubHub for wine, beer and liquor, founder Aniket Shah said.

Like GrubHub, Qwiker acts as one-stop shop for people looking to receive deliveries in less than an hour, except Qwiker focuses only on booze.

The shops featured on the site already have delivery capabilities, Shah said. Qwiker provides the platform, where shoppers can filter choices by price, style and origin.

This week, Lakeview's Milk and More, 702 W. Diversey Parkway, became the first store in Chicago to sign up to use Qwiker, Shah said. It will deliver to neighborhoods beyond Lakeview, including Lincoln Park and Wicker Park.

Eventually, Shah wants to enroll shops across the city.

"We’re trying to bring the convenience of online ordering with delivery and alcohol," he said.

Shah thought of the idea after being overwhelmed with choices at his local liquor stores. He didn't know the difference between the $30 and $40 cabernets, or the distinction between grapes grown in various parts of the world.

He craved more time to do research.

"All these questions could be answered online if you compare bottles," he said. "It's more difficult in the store. You're pressed for time."

And with current online wine sales, the bottles can take a while to get shipped, or shipping costs can run high, he said.

Qwiker takes a "small cut" of the sales local liquor stores make from the orders, Shah said.

The shop itself takes care of everything else — including checking IDs.

Booze delivery folks check IDs at the door, and if the orderer isn't 21, the alcohol gets sent back to the store. Qwiker then automatically charges $20 as a service fee, Shah said.

Same goes for people who are ordering alcohol when they're inebriated. If the delivery person sees that the party's already gotten too hearty, the alcohol will be sent back to the business, and the orderer will be charged $20.

"We want to promote the convenience of it," Shah said. "We don’t promote excessive drinking."

In New York, where Qwiker launched in July, 10,000 people and 13 stores are signed up, Shah said. There, one of the most popular uses of Qwiker is actually to send last-minute gifts, he said.

People who've forgotten about a birthday or celebration can get a bottle of wine delivered to a friend in under an hour, including a personalized note.