In a month that’s traditionally slow, a Victoria beverage distributor is hopping.
“January is a great month for us because people are looking to make healthier choices,” says Andrea Demers, co-owner of Softer Specialty Drink Co.
The company is an online supplier of non-alcoholic beverages, catering to people who have moved away from alcohol, or who are looking for the occasional alternative.
Demers is quick to point out that alcohol-free doesn’t mean a drink that’s devoid of taste or complexity.
“There’s really an explosion of interesting and delicious drinks on the scene now,” she says. “You’re not even missing out if you choose to not drink alcohol.”
Following years of working in the hospitality industry, Demers started the business with a partner in 2021.
“We’re an online shop and we sell a really interesting mix of non-alcoholic drinks. Anything you could drink in the same type of occasion where you’d be having a bottle of wine or a beer, we’ve got something for people who are maybe not wanting to imbibe,” she says.
Demers says business is brisk due to Dry January, the movement that encourages people to refrain from, or give up drinking entirely for the first month of the year.
The Canadian Cancer Society has also launched an initiative for February called Dry Feb. It’s a Movember-like fundraiser that encourages people to raise money as individuals or as part of a team while going alcohol-free for the month. Money raised goes to support people in Canada affected by cancer.
Bee Crowe and Nigel Bell are visiting Victoria from Nelson, B.C., and they know the benefits of a sober lifestyle.
“Better relationships, better mental health in general, more money,” laughs Crowe, who stopped drinking in October 2022.
As for the price, Demers says you’re not paying much less for alcohol-free products.
“The price on most non-alcoholic drinks is pretty similar to their alcoholic counterparts, which some people are puzzled by, but basically it’s the same process to make most of these drinks,” she says.
The real savings can be had from the peripheral price of a night on the town. You won’t drink a lot, and no cab ride home.