Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The top 10 subscription & delivery services in Toronto
Delivery services and subscription clubs, I've recently discovered, can be a cheerful addition to the mail, as well as a convenient way to cross off mundane errands from my to-do list. I signed up for organic produce deliveries on a bi-weekly basis a year ago, and recently my partner has tried out an online subscription for cheap razor refills. This made me wonder what other essentials (or not) busy Torontonians can put on autopilot?
Here's a round-up, in no particular order, of delivery services and subscription clubs that ship to Toronto.
Coming home to a bin full of organic vegetables has become one of the highlights of my routine. In the GTA the main players are Front Door Organics and Mama Earth. Both services start at about $35ish per order, which is easy for me to rationalize if I consider what a take-out dinner costs when I don't feel like going to the store. Plus, the regular deliveries keep my fridge stocked with exceedingly fresh seasonal veggies that are locally sourced (as much as possible). See a more comprehensive round-up of organic delivery options here.
To make meal planning a little easier there's Fresh Canteen, a Toronto-based service that offers a choice of six entrees each week and then delivers all the fresh ingredients necessary to cook the recipes at home (some pantry items might be required). The service isn't totally on autopilot since meal selections must be made weekly in advance, but it's not like Columbia House: you'll only get charged when you place the week's order.
Chef Butler, another Toronto-based subscription service aims to appeal to those who like to experiment in the kitchen. Each order supplies recipe cards, dry pantry ingredients and spice mixes (plus shopping list for extra proteins or produce) needed to whip up an internationally-themed, three course menu for four.
Snackbox is a Vancouver based company that assembles care packages spotlighting 10-12 varieties of all-natural, gluten-free snacks for monthly shipments. Subscriptions are available in one to three month plans ranging from $24 to $33 and are geared to be a thoughtful gift or a cheery, healthy infusion to order for yourself at the office.
Carnivore Club, the monthly club for charcute-lovers that we wrote about last month is now operational and accepting members for regular deliveries for $50 per month. Each order features 4-6 selections of internationally-sourced cured and smoked meats.
Local roasters like Birds & Beans and Detour Coffee Roasters do subscriptions geared at introducing coffee lovers to new beans for home brewing. Bags by weight can be ordered to the desired grind but are usually left to the purveyors selection so that it doesn't just replenish the home or office supply but also offers something new.
Wine clubs are a fun and easy way to try new bottles offered directly from local vineyards like Beamsville's Thirty Bench and Niagara' Peller Estates, or from online clubs like Savvy Selections (whose sommeliers select exclusively from Ontario) and Wine Collective that deals in international bottles. For a longer list of wine clubs and delivery services, check out our roundup post.
The CBC (that's Canadian Beer Club) was one of the first to offer subscriptions to suds, but sadly the club isn't currently accepting new members. Picking up the extra demand, monthlyclubs.ca and amazingclubs.ca do 6-packs or 12-packs for roughly $40 to $50 per month. The services are more discovery-oriented rather than value-packed, but I can see this perking up any beer lover's routine. Failing that, you could get Steam Whistle delivered with your groceries.
The Period Store delivers lady products in time with subscribers' monthly cycles. Starting at $24, these packages certainly aren't a cheaper alternative, but they come complete with feminine products, over the counter pain killers, sweets, teas and limited edition art prints. Bonus points for offering a broader selection than local drugstores; along with big brand names, there's a selection of international and eco-friendly products available too.
Dollar Shave Club is an alternative to expensive drugstore brand razor blades that are usually sold from behind alarmed plastic dispensers. For Canadians, the club isn't a dollar a month like the name suggests, but there's a choice of three tiers of blades, delivered four cartridges at a time for $3.50 to $9.50 each month (or every two months). Shipping is included. Quality-wise they seem pretty decent. No word if they'll pause the subscriptions over Movember.
Man Packs offers guys customizable quarterly deliveries to replenish grooming products, refresh supplies of socks and undies, and even condoms. Costs for razors are higher than just going to the drugstore (an 8-pack of Gillette razors will run $25-$34) but, the selection of boutique grooming products and Hanes undies are priced on par with brick and mortar retailers.
For $12, Socking Behaviour, the online men's accessories store, will send gents a fun new pair of colourful patterned socks each month. It's not exactly an essential, but it'll spice up the mail as much as it'll spice up a boring wardrobe. Shipping to Canada is free.
BarkBox is geared towards dog owners looking to treat their best friends. Each order is shipped on the 15th of each month and includes a sampling of toys, goodies and hygiene products. Subscriptions are offered in one, three and six-month plans starting at $19 each month (plus $5 shipping). Ten percent of each order goes towards animal rescue groups.
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