By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary-based online wine retailer Virtual Vino has expanded its network of free pick-up locations across Alberta.
Products, ordered online, can now be picked up in 19 locations across the province, including 18 Sobeys and Safeway Liquor stores in Edmonton, Calgary, Leduc, Sherwood Park, Red Deer, Chestermere and Airdrie, and at the Rocky Mountain Wine, Spirits & Beer store in Calgary.
Michael MacDougall, owner of Virtual Vino, said the expansion comes just five months after launching in November 2017 with nine pick-up locations.
“We’ll probably be adding more in the very near future too,” he said.
“Presently it’s just wine but there may be expansion into other products in the near future.”
MacDougall said Sobeys has more than 70 liquor stores in the province. So there is potential for growth in other locations.
“We kind of feel that Sobeys has some of the best distribution points in the province closest to residential neighbourhoods,” he said. “We like our working relationship with Sobeys. We feel they’re a very strong partner in the industry and they’re good people. And we like working with good people.”
MacDougall said the company’s goal is to bring its favourite wines to the masses at an incredible value and delivering wines people might not often find at their neighbourhood liquor store.
The business was up and running as of June 2017 with a store at Rocky Mountain Wine, Spirits & Beer.
“Having a retail store building was a requirement and we wanted to be in the online business. So we were fully aware that we had to get one to build the other,” said MacDougall.
“It’s worked extremely well in that four months that we’ve been operating . . . Part of the success we believe in the online business is that the consumer can order and pick up at their own convenience. There are times that delivering direct works but I think the most amount of success comes from when the consumer can just pick up at a destination location closest to their home or their work and do it at their own leisure.”
Virtual Vino also offers shipping across Canada with Canada Post to customers’ doors.
Virtual Vino curates Mix Six packs of wine in a variety of themes that are always on sale. In addition to Mix Six packs, its Six of the Same (half cases of wine) are available for those who have fallen in love with a particular bottle. For people who like to invest in wine, Virtual Vino also carries a selection of Splurge Worthy Gems, rounding out its product offering to appeal to all wine-lovers.
“The thing we try to focus on is what the consumer is asking for. It seems to us that these Mix Sixes are very positive with our consumer feedback. They’re able to try a breadth of products that they might not ordinarily choose themselves in the store,” said MacDougall.
Here is a full list of Virtual Vino pick-up locations:
Safeway Wine & Spirits Thorncliffe, 5611 4th St. NW;
Safeway Wine & Spirits South Trail, #200, 4915 130th Ave. SE;
Sobeys Liquor Bridlewood, #803, 2335 162 Ave. SW;
Sobeys Liquor Mahogany, 1550 - 7 Mahogany Plaza SE;
Sobeys Liquor Royal Oak, 303, 888 Country Hills Blvd, NW;
Sobeys Liquor Silverado, #422, 19369 Sheriff King St. SW;
Sobeys Liquor Strathcona Square, 410-555 Strathcona Blvd. SW;
Rocky Mountain Wine, Spirits & Beer, 225 – 58 Ave. SE.
Sobeys Liquor Chestermere,156 Chestermere Station Way.
Sobeys Liquor Kingsview, 1100 Market Street SE.
Sobeys Liquor Terwillegar, 14272 – 23 Ave.;
Sobeys Liquor Kingsway, 11436 – 106 Street NW;
Sobeys Liquor Newcastle, 16831 - 127th Street NW;
Sobeys Liquor Tamarack, 2425 - 17 Street NW;
Sobeys Liquor Hollick Kenyon, 5215-167 Ave NW;
Sobeys Liquor Lewis Estates, 1026 Webber Greens Drive.
Sobeys Liquor – Red Deer Gaetz South, 5111 22 St.
Safeway Wine & Spirits Leduc Towne Square, 6106 – 50 Street.
Sobeys Liquor Lakeland, 120 Lakeland Ridge Shopping Centre, 590 Baseline Road.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: email@example.com.