Thirstie, an online and on-demand booze delivery service based out of New York, has announced that it’s expanding into mail delivery as it looks to build a more scalable business model.
Founded in 2013, Thirstie teams up with local liquor stores to offer wine, beer, and spirits for delivery within the hour. It currently operates across New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami, among other U.S. markets, while it went international for the first time back in October when it launched in Canada.
The on-demand alcohol delivery market has gotten somewhat saturated, with a number of players cropping up across the U.S. in recent years. This has also led to a degree of consolidation, with Thirstie acquiring DrinkFly last year and Delivery.com acquiring BrewDrop to boost alcohol orders in Texas. But consolidation, it seems, is only part of the solution to the underlying problem — there just isn’t enough demand for something as niche as short-term alcohol delivery.
“The fact of the matter is that consumers don’t always demand product delivery in 2 hours or less, and many of them just really want to discover something exclusive and new,” explained Thirstie CEO Devaraj Southworth. “They’re looking for a pleasant experience that delivers quality product to their front door, as long as delivery expectations are managed.”
So while Thirstie isn’t ditching its existing offering, it’s now looking to adopt an approach similar to Flaviar, a subscription liquor-sampling service that delivers an assortment of hand-picked spirits to your door every month, and Distiller, which recently expanded beyond recommending whiskies into selling bottles of the good stuff in-app. But Thirstie’s not quite the same as that — it will offer luxury, rare, and premium alcohol brands for sale, in addition to a digital magazine that lets users read alcohol-related articles and purchase products directly from within it.
“Through our experience in on-demand and from hearing customer feedback, we’ve grown to more intimately understand what consumers want from their alcohol buying experience,” added Southworth. “More and more, complementing our on-demand offering seemed like the right path, based on the current landscape and what has been successful for us.”
Thirstie had raised somewhere in the region of $2 million in investors’ cash before now, so it’s understandable that it needs to find scale for growth. Among its competitors are more heavily funded startups such as Drizly, which has raised around $18 million — so Thirstie’s mild pivot could be an indication of what’s to come across the on-demand market.