New Haven residents looking to have alcohol delivered to their homes can now have that convenience in 60 minutes or fewer through the new online startup Porter 21.
After starting the business in November in Hartford, Ankit Harpaldas brought the service to New Haven this month. Harpaldas said the delivery service is convenient for both local retail store owners and consumers.
“We are moving from a regular retail model to one that is on demand, where people can get what they want when they want it,” said Harpaldas. “We are applying technology to retail like Uber and other businesses [do] to promote convenience.”
The service, which involves no extra delivery or sales tax for consumers, is expected to expand beyond its two primary locations to other Connecticut suburbs in the future, said Harpaldas.
The online website of Porter 21, which prompts users to enter their zip code, links customers to local liquor store menus and subsequently allows customers to order online. Although users do not select to order from any particular liquor store, the menus presented vary for each zip code, based on the liquor sold by participating businesses in that area. Each order requires a $25 minimum for delivery.
Though some have expressed concerns that such quick and easy access to alcohol could increase rates of underage drinking or alcoholism, Harpaldas said that the checks in place should prevent minors from purchasing his products. In order to purchase and acquire any alcohol through the service, a customer must present and scan a valid ID upon delivery and sign an online form to validate their age. In addition, the employee who delivers the order can refuse to carry out the order if the customer is sufficiently intoxicated or suspicious.
New Haven liquor store employees interviewed said they fear the new service could prove to be a significant competitor in the local market.
“It could affect small businesses everywhere,” said Mahendra Rao, an employee at College Wine in New Haven, a store that is not participating.
However, Peter Ramchandani, owner of Valley Wines in Farmington and a partner of Porter 21, said he does not think the startup will be a detriment to local businesses that are not partnered with the website.
He added that local stores who partner with the website have an opportunity to gain increased exposure and widen their customer base. He said business has increased for him so much that he had to increase the staff at his store.
“My experience has been great,” said Ramchandani, who asked to partner with Porter 21 after hearing about the website. “It has expanded our store from four walls, out to people who can’t get to the store.”
Although some local stores like College Wine already offer delivery, Adelaide Goodyear ’17 said her friends who have used the delivery service have found it slow and inconvenient.
“The problem with College Wine is that they don’t give you a specific time period when they say they will deliver,” she said.
She added that the online service might appeal to a wide array of students, and that she plans to use it herself.
According to state law, liquor stores can operate between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. These same hours also apply to the delivery service.
Correction: March 27
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the service would involve no sales tax for consumers. In fact, the service does not involve extra delivery tax, but it does include sales tax.