Have you ever wanted to buy gin endorsed by Ryan Reynolds? Or a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc curated by Sarah Jessica Parker? Now’s your chance. GrapeStars, the online marketplace for celebrity-endorsed brands of booze, is live to make sure you never have to go without a glass of wine supported by a famous person, even in the time of COVID-19.
Based in Miami, GrapeStars had its soft launch this week. Initially they’ll ship to 45 states in the U.S. The company has plans for a formal launch in mid-May 2020 with a portfolio of 1,495 products from 203 celebrities.
Here’s how it works: consumers can either purchase directly through the GrapeStars app, which currently works on iPhones or Google Play, or they can click on links embedded on celebrity’s social media profiles to be redirected to their GrapeStars store. From there they select their star-supported booze of choice, which is shipped to their door. Cost depends on weight, distance, and timing (e.g. overnight, 2 day, etc), and GrapeStars pockets 15 percent of each sale.
According to an email conversation with a GrapeStars rep, the startup recently closed a seed round, raising $3.7 million with a mix of convertible debentures and equities. The company will launch a Republic Crowdfunding Campaign to raise an additional $1 million sometime in the next few weeks.
This concept is obviously on the sillier side, but GrapeStars may actually hitting the market at an ideal time. Since everything is stressful right now and meditation apps can only do so much, sales of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. rose 55 percent in the week ending March 21, according to Nielsen data. Since bars are no longer to sell you the good stuff, people are turning to grocery stores and e-commerce to get their booze fix. Consequently, online alcohol delivery services like Drizly and Minibar are seeing a huge spike in sales. Wine subscription services, like Winc and Vivino, are also seeing rapid increases in sales and higher ticket sizes.
Plus, since everyone is turning to social media to feel connected amidst social distancing, celebrities may find themselves with a captive audience that’s bored enough to, say, order specialty booze endorsed by their favorite movie star.
Is GrapeStars going to solve any of the very significant challenges that COVID-19 is imposing on the food system? Absolutely not. But is it fun, entertaining, and a relevant service in our new Netflix-fueled normal? You bet.