Most residents in the Richmond area can now get booze delivered directly to their home through an expanded pilot program launched this week by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.
That’s right, whole bottles of booze, delivered right to your door — in Virginia.
Virginia ABC launched the expanded program Wednesday at five stores in the state as part of its COVID-19 response efforts. Residents within 25 miles of the participating stores — which in Richmond is the 2610 Buford Road location — are eligible for delivery.
“This initiative is a priority for Virginia ABC not only as a way of meeting our customers’ needs and expectations for delivery options but also to provide an additional contactless way to receive our products in light of the pandemic,” said Taylor Thornberg, a spokeswoman for ABC.
An initial pilot program to test ABC’s capacity started May 28 in Suffolk. Four stores were added this week to “gather additional insight into capability and demand,” Thornberg said.
It works like this: Select one of the five stores through online ordering at abc.virginia.gov, shop and select “ship to my home” at checkout. Booze, wine and mixers can be ordered and shipped — and someone 21 or older with a valid ID must be home to sign for the delivery.
Virginia ABC has partnered with UPS for the delivery. There is a $10 flat fee per delivery, plus $2.50 per bottle to cover protective packaging (so it would cost $20 to have four bottles delivered). There is a $10 minimum per order and a 12-bottle maximum. For now, shipping is limited to residential homes and apartments, so no business addresses.
Orders placed Monday-Thursday by 2 p.m. will be delivered the next day. Friday-Sunday or holiday orders may take an extra day or two.
The five participating stores in the state are 2610 Buford Road (Store No. 86) in Chesterfield County; No. 99 in Herndon (15-mile range); No. 136 in Leesburg; No. 349 in Chesapeake; and No. 377 in Suffolk. The stores were selected based on high population density in the area, ability to meet demand, staffing levels and previous online sales levels, Thornberg said.
“We hope to expand this new service to additional stores across the state in the upcoming months,” Thornberg said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Virginia ABC has offered several new services and, with state approval, loosened some regulations to better serve consumers, including offering curbside pickup at stores, allowing Virginia distillers to ship directly to in-state consumers, and giving restaurants the temporary OK to offer cocktails to-go.
These are all striking additions in a state that didn’t allow “liquor by the drink” — cocktails and spirits — to be served in restaurants until 1968, 35 years after the end of Prohibition. And the changes come as Virginia gears up to consider the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana.
In recent years, the 86-year-old Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has functioned more as a modern business as opposed to a government bureaucracy following legislation adopted in 2015 to turn it into a semi-independent authority, governed like a corporation with a CEO and a part-time board of directors.
Virginia ABC’s retail sales were $1.2 billion in fiscal 2020 — a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year and the second year in a row the liquor monopoly surpassed $1 billion in sales.
The business news you need
With a weekly newsletter looking back at local history.