Booze-Free Bottle Shops Are Making Dry January Easier Than Ever

Whitaker, for one, said she wasn’t really interested in non-alcoholic options at the beginning of her own sobriety journey because she “didn’t want to just do the same thing and switch out what was in my hand.” There weren’t many good non-alcoholic options on the market back then anyway, she said, particularly in bars.

“We only had Diet Coke and shitty coffee,” Whitaker said. “I would have loved to have something nicer back then—maybe?”

In “Quit Like a Woman,” Whitaker writes about the idea of a “toolbox”—a kit that women can draw from to help shrink the outsized role that alcohol often plays in our lives. Those tools—physical and practical—include meditation, music and aromatherapy. Non-alcoholic drinks might ultimately fit nicely in that toolbox, too, she said. “It’s really nice to have something presented as an alternative that will lessen the amount of alcohol we drink in a week,” Whitaker said. “We consume way too much across the board.”

Spirited Away was the first store of its kind to open in New York, but others have emerged since, in New York and beyond. Businesswoman Emily Heintz recently quit her job in sales and launched a Charleston-based company called Sechey earlier this year, which distributes many of the same brands that Spirited Away stocks in New York. Sechey is among the first retailers in the Southeast to stock these products.  

Emily Heintz at her shop Sechey, in Charleston.

Photo: Courtesy of Sechey

The name Sechey is based on the French word “secher,” which means “to dry,” she explained, and while Heintz embraces the sober community, “it’s less about that than introducing women to alternatives they didn’t know existed.”

“We’re open to everyone,” she said. “You could just be taking the day off. You could be doing a 30-day cleanse.”

To that end, Heintz and Watters both are anticipating a busy new year, when millions of American adults are expected to take part in “Dry January.”

“It’s tied to overall health and wellness,” Heintz said. “And I think for women, as you age, your metabolism slows down, your tolerance for alcohol is lower and you feel the effects more. Women love to socialize and connect but you don’t want to have a headache. Working women have to wake up in the morning.”

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