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Liquor delivery apps doing brisk business amid the coronavirus pandemic

Amid the shelter-in-place order instituted by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago shoppers flooded local delivery apps to get their booze.

Customers at A&S Beverages Wine & Spirits stock up amid Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order. | Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times
Customers at A&S Beverages Wine & Spirits stock up amid Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order.
Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times

When a factory shuts down, so does the spending habits of their employees who traditionally shop at nearby businesses that rely on the steady stream of revenue.

Some of those businesses are starting to feel the pinch.

“We’ve witnessed a lot in the past week alone,” said Tanya Elkhatib, a manager at A&S Beverages Wine & Spirits’ Back of the Yards location. “We’re understanding where everyone’s coming from. You just want to probably just go and sit at home not knowing if they’re going to get a call to when their business opens up or to when they’re going to be called back to work or laid off. They are more concerned about their family. … It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for many, many, many of our loyal customers.”

A&S Beverages Wine & Spirits’ Back of the Yards location is near an industrial area, where some of those employees who are regular customers, have not shown up to buy liquor due to losing their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. | Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times

After the shelter-in-place order was instituted by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week due to the coronavirus pandemic, some liquor stores, delivery apps and distilleries continue to see an increase in sales, while of some of them have seen their sales head in the other direction.

Binny’s Beverage Depot, which continues to take delivery orders online, is also making deliveries through food delivery app Instacart. They have cut brick-and-mortar hours and are letting a controlled number of customers into their stores.

Binny’s Beverage Depot’s Hyde Park location received a rush of customers last week ahead of Gov. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order. | Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times
Binny’s Beverage Depot’s Hyde Park location received a rush of customers last week ahead of Gov. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order. | Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission has issued temporary permits to craft breweries so they can conduct residential deliveries.

“This authorization, effective immediately, is a critical step toward ensuring the sustainability and success of Illinois breweries in the coming weeks,” Julie Thorson, a spokesperson for the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild said in a statement. “ … Once we have weathered the storm, we look forward to raising a glass of Illinois beer and toasting to our members, our loyal craft beer fans, and to the strength and resilience that defines our industry.”

Spirit Hub, a beverage delivery service than specializes in spirits from independent distilleries, says they’ve seen a “spike” in sales amid the pandemic.

Also, they’ve instituted a “Limited Contact Delivery” policy for all delivery orders.

“In an effort to help them [local independent distilleries] boost revenue, we are providing our partners with customized offers and regularly replenishing inventory with follow up purchase orders,” Michael Weiss, Spirit Hub’s CEO and founder said in a statement. “Beyond this, customers can continue to find uncommon craft spirits and delicious cocktail recipes on our platform, and know that their order will arrive to the doorstep within two days of purchase. … We see as a testament to our current customer base who is committed to supporting small businesses and doing their part to adhere to quarantine suggestions during this time.”

Elkhatib says customers have come into the store to buy whatever they can get, along with the spirits they would normally purchase.

She says she had to change the store’s hours and lay off employees.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster, hearing from a lot of our loyal customers we’ve known for a long time and [new] customers that we’re just seeing, ” Elkhatib said. “What is going on? Why is this [store] so busy? Oh well, then we might be shut down, so we don’t know.”