Local beverage delivery companies fill gap for consumer drink demands

Hoai-Tran Bui, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Heavy refill water jugs are a common sight on the doorsteps of many D.C. area homes and apartments. But some local businesses are taking drink deliveries a step further, catering to specialized tastes and customized requests.

Soda Y.O.D.A., an online store that delivers bubbly beverages to homes and offices in the D.C. area, was founded by Brandon Raffensperger in March 2013. The idea for Raffensperger’s business was inspired by his trip to Costco for sodas. He became exasperated with the cumbersome process by which he had to transport the drinks home.

“I found myself wishing someone would deliver drinks because of how physically difficult they are to lift and transport,” Raffensperger told WTOP in an email. “Getting drinks home in a metropolitan area is truly an imposition.”

Raffensperger immediately jumped on the idea of providing a soda delivery service. Soda Y.O.D.A. — which received its name for rhyming with the word “soda” — offers free next-day delivery, as well as same-day service for a fee for last- minute drink orders.

“In a densely populated area, where parking is at a premium and traffic is unrelenting, it can be very time-consuming to have to make a stop while you are travelling to and from work or school, especially during rush hour,” Raffensperger says. “For those without vehicles, the hassle of shopping for beverages is acutely worse. Their options are few and far between, and the prices for beverages at convenience stores and downtown grocery stores are exorbitant.”

Soda Y.O.D.A. delivers its beverage orders with a Sprinter van, which features the company’s grinning soda can mascot. The van has the ability to haul about two tons of drinks. While Raffensperger delivers primarily to the D.C. and Northern Virginia areas, he hopes to expand to other metropolitan cities on the East Coast, such as Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Alex Clifford, a D.C. resident, had a similar plan. In 2012, he founded Grape Crate, a company that customizes wine orders to the customer’s tastes and ships deliveries of wine to homes across the country. His service echoes Soda Y.O.D.A.’s online ordering and delivery program.

Clifford says even though his customers do not come into a brick and mortar store for his services, he thinks his business model is still very personal.

“I think the personal interaction that I’ve seen with (local) delivery companies makes it more compelling than anything you buy on Amazon or through the mail,” Clifford says.

Raffensperger hopes to build of the personal relationship he establishes with his customers. He hopes they one day associate SODA Y.O.D.A. as the the beverage delivery business.

“We are a brand-new, family-owned business, but we hope to change the consumer behavior of beverage buying,” Raffensperger says. “We would like to be the first and only name people think of with beverage delivery, and would love to be as commonplace as ordering a pizza is today.”

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