Instant IKEA assembly, quickie booze delivery and seven other ways to streamline your life

Instant IKEA assembly, quickie booze delivery and seven other ways to streamline your life

(Image: Giftagram)

In Toronto, it’s suddenly possible to complete any mind-numbing chore with the swipe or tap of a finger. Whether the party has run out of booze, the babysitter has cancelled last minute or the Ikea dresser is just too darn difficult to assemble, the city’s best new services harness the power of the sharing economy to provide ultra-efficient solutions to life’s little annoyances (searching for a plumber on Google is so 2015). Here, nine exceptionally helpful apps and websites.

For prompt home repairs: Jiffy on Demand

Founded by three Torontonians, this app connects homeowners to a huge network of local electricians, plumbers, exterminators and other specialists. Whatever the crisis (yes, putting together IKEA furniture counts), a highly rated handyperson can be there within three hours to solve it. Rates are pre-set according to industry averages, so there are no surprise bills.
Fine print: Materials cost extra, and users are fined a $25 penalty if they cancel after the worker is already en route. If the work isn’t up to snuff, users can apply for a refund or have it re-done for free.
Sample services: $75 for snow removal; $299 for duct cleaning; $90 for a tire change; $100 for 1.3 hours of furniture assembly.

For easy giving: Giftagram

This Toronto-based app lets users choose and send thoughtful gifts with the touch of a button. Shoppers pick from a curated selection of local products and services. The recipient accepts the gift via phone or e-mail and provides their preferred shipping address. Delivery takes three to five days.
Fine print: There’s a small markup on most gifts, plus an incremental delivery fee on items under $50.
Sample gifts: $95 for a Jenny Bird cuff bracelet; $72 for a jam, tea and honey gift box from Kitten and the Bear; $58 for Aesop’s Jet Set kit.

For booze delivery: Thirstie

When there’s no time for an LCBO run, this NYC-based app delivers wine, beer and spirits in under an hour. It’s perfect for busy hosts: in addition to supplying booze, the app also provides serving tips and cocktail recipes.
Fine print: The service is only available between 9:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., so anyone looking for post-bar libations is out of luck. The delivery fee is approximately $10, and ID is required at the door.
Sample orders: $12 for a 750ml bottle of Flying Monkeys craft beer; $17 for a bottle of Villa Maria sauvignon blanc; $60 for a bottle of 12-year-old Aberlour whiskey.

For house cleaning: Cleanify

This year-old start-up is like Open Table for cleaning companies. Users input their address, the number of rooms they want cleaned and the preferred cleaning date, and they’re automatically connected to dozens of top-rated local options, all sorted by price. Each service is pre-tested for quality, and users can submit reviews after the job is complete.
Fine print: If they’re not satisfied with the work, users can ask for their money back or get a free clean.
Sample booking: $114 for four hours of cleaning by CNR Cleaning Services, a Brampton-based company.

For child minders: DateNight

When the neighbour’s kid suddenly cancels, this Toronto app connects parents to a huge roster of trusted babysitters, including established nannies, high-schoolers and U of T students looking to earn some extra cash. The app provides bios, references and rates for each sitter, sets up screening interviews in person or via Skype, and even sends notifications when specific sitters are free (e.g., “Your sitter Rachel is free tonight; would you like a date night?”). Memberships range from $3—$11.25 per month, with up to a $5 booking charge per use depending on the membership level.
Fine print: An additional $7 cab fee is charged for babysitters under 17 (and anytime a job ends after 11 p.m.). Parents can use the service without a membership, but they’ll be charged a one-time service fee of $20.
Sample booking: $15 per hour for a Ryerson student with some experience working as a full-time nanny.

For fresh flowers: Tonic Blooms

This local site delivers made-to-order flower arrangements in under two hours—perfect for those “Oh crap, it’s our anniversary” moments. Rather than scrolling through dozens of options, users choose from a rotating selection of three to five seasonal bouquets, each neatly wrapped in denim. Prices are clearly laid out, and there are no delivery fees.
Fine print: The two-hour delivery guarantee only applies to orders inside the specified delivery zone.
Sample order: $44 for The Winter, a bouquet of cold-weather greens (skimmia, ruscus) and crisp white garden mondial.

For parking spots: Rover

Basically the Airbnb of parking spaces, Rover lets locals register spare spots and share them with nearby drivers searching for affordable parking. Hosts create a schedule for when their spot is free, and post a photo of the space so the drivers know exactly where to park. Prices are capped at $2 per hour (a pretty great deal for downtown Toronto).
Fine print: Rover takes a 15 per cent cut from both the owner and the parker. There’s currently no way to book a spot in advance—they’re only available in real time. If parkers overstay their purchased time, they run the risk of being towed.
Sample booking: $1.21 per hour for a spot in a residential driveway off of Queen Street West.

For no-fuss groceries: Instabuggy

This website and app delivers fresh food to the GTA from a variety of grocery stores, including gourmet, mid-range and budget options. Shoppers can mix-and-match items from multiple stores in a single order, and the entire haul can be delivered in under an hour.
Fine print: There’s a minimum order of $35. Delivery is $10 for orders between $35–$60, $6 on orders between $60–$80 and free on orders over $80. See here for a coverage map.
Sample shop: $11 for two Atlantic salmon fillets from FreshCo, $2.80 for an organic avocado from Sunlong Natural Market, $5 for a packet of four Pillsbury pizza pockets from Valu-Mart.

For off-site storage: Boxit

This app provides storage solutions for condo-residing Torontonians with too much stuff and not enough space. Users go online and order plastic storage boxes, which are dropped off free of charge. Once packed, the boxes are picked up and stored at Boxit’s secure facility for $7 a month. Users can get their stuff back at any time by making an online request for next-day delivery.
Fine print: There’s a minimum three-month commitment, and Boxit charges a $15 flat rate (plus $2 per box) to return stored boxes.
Sample booking: $126 to store three boxes for six months (plus a $21 return fee).


January 22, 2016

In an earlier version of this article we listed various processing fees associated with using DateNight. In fact, the app has recently switched to a membership-based system, and we have updated the information accordingly.