The LCBO rounds up bottles for delivery, but who wants to wait days?
There are few greater joys in life than opening your front door to a hand-picked box of booze. (Okay, I'm unmarried, childless and obsessed with alcohol, so take that statement with a grain of salt.)
When the LCBO launched its online sales and delivery option in late July, Ontarians were ushered into a new realm of convenience – kind of. I mean, if you're okay waiting a few days between ordering and delivery.
Five thousand products are currently available via the LCBO's website, lcbo.com, including consignment wines purchasable by the case but otherwise unavailable at LCBO stores.
While that's dandy for wine geeks cool with committing to a dozen bottles of pricey small-production Pinot Noir, it's not revolutionary – even in Ontario, land of famously restrictive liquor laws.
Similar services have been available for some time via wineries, agents and websites like WineWire.ca and WineOnline.ca. Craft beer can be purchased in Ontario through virtual clubs like thebrewbox.co and savvycompany.ca.
Online access to a wide variety of spirits, though, wasn't a thing in Ontario until now, so the LCBO's new system must be progress proof positive.
An indisputable upside to ordering online is that the LCBO consolidates products into one tidy package, sparing you the agony of chasing bottles across five GTA locations. That alone is worth waiting two to three days for delivery and swallowing a minimum order of $50 plus a $12-plus-tax shipping charge.
You can skirt the Canada Post fee by scooping your order directly from whichever LCBO location suits you best. Personally, that's the feature I'd favour, but it turns out home delivery has proved the most popular option so far.
That's probably because home delivery doesn't drag on for weeks. Orders for pickup can take anywhere from one to four weeks to be filled by the LCBO and up to four to seven if it's coming from a third-party supplier like an agent.
Unless you're the type who starts planning a holiday party before Halloween, grabbing your haul from the nearest liquor store three weeks after you ordered it doesn't qualify as the epitome of convenience.
Fortunately, most online products, with the exception of by-the-case consignment stuff, aren't particularly hard to locate - especially if you've already worked biweekly pilgrimages to Summerhill into your life.
So, yes, it's wonderful to tear open a cardboard treasure chest of adults-only beverages (after being IDed by the postperson, of course). But just like everything associated with our provincial liquor board, the service has limitations.