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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: cpatak on February 09, 2010, 05:30:31 AM

Title: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: cpatak on February 09, 2010, 05:30:31 AM
I am considering opening a homebrew shop...I am curious to know what do you like/dislike about your local homebrew shop or online ingredients/materials supplier? Thanks.   ???
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: BrewArk on February 09, 2010, 07:28:24 AM
Likes:
Supplies that are on hand, so I brew today rather than waiting for the mail.
Someone to bounce ideas off of/get advice from.
No shipping charges!

Dislikes:
When business is slow and supplies get older than they should (bugs in grain, old slow yeast, etc.).
Smaller inventory, not stocking some things I might want.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: babalu87 on February 09, 2010, 12:36:12 PM
Trying to get rich on whole sacks of grain.

Isnt $5 or $10 bucks enough?

One LHBS can get me a sack of Weyermann Rauchmalt for $55 + tax
Another guy is $80

Guess who gets my business?
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: ndcube on February 09, 2010, 12:40:26 PM
Having a variety of ingredients and keeping it fresh would be the biggest obstacle depending on how good business gets.  That's been my problem with the few LHBS that I've visisted.

Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: tubercle on February 09, 2010, 01:05:47 PM
#1 rule of economics: The economy runs on price.

#2 rule of economics: If you can't gain a competitive advantage with price you must increase the customer's perceived value with service.

   I can get any brewing supplies from multiple sources and most are within a reasonable price range of each other. The little things, like going out of their way if there is a problem is what brings me back. No business has ever survived on one-time sales.    The repeat customers make it a success.

  Since a LHBS is a buy/resale operation you will have a little control over quality and price but will have 100% control over service.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: Hokerer on February 09, 2010, 01:46:27 PM
Like they say about real estate... location, location, location

Our LHBS is about 20 miles away which is about an hour with the stupid traffic around here.  Way too much easier to have stuff shipped to my door.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: tygo on February 09, 2010, 03:34:31 PM
Like they say about real estate... location, location, location

Our LHBS is about 20 miles away which is about an hour with the stupid traffic around here.  Way too much easier to have stuff shipped to my door.

Are you talking about myLHBS?  I just recently noticed that it existed and haven't had a chance to get down there yet.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: Hokerer on February 09, 2010, 03:50:18 PM
Are you talking about myLHBS?  I just recently noticed that it existed and haven't had a chance to get down there yet.

Yep, that's the one.  Nice enough place, just not exactly easy for me to get to.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: darkerpower on February 09, 2010, 03:55:01 PM
I have two homebrew shops nearby I'll break it down for each one:

shop 1:
+
close to work, i can run there during lunch

-
very expensive, they charge more than double what NB/B3 charges for grain and most other items.
The owners are knowledgeable, but the staff has given me very bad information on several occasions, i stick to forums now for info.
Staff is often less than helpful, and never seem pleased.  
the clonebrew kit i tried was nothing like it was advertised and it was missing a hop addition.  
hours are odd, they change every day and aren't open most evenings.
website is beyond out of date, prices listed there are drastically different, when holding the printout from the website they basically told me tough s*** the price is what its listed on the store not the website.

shop 2:
+
less than a mile from my house
service is excellent, owner always greets me with a smile, almost always gives me a discount just for being a loyal customer.
price is comparable to online for wine kits.
open evenings
-
knows almost nothing about beer brewing/mead/fermentables other than wine kits
continually tries to sell me on premade wort kits/extract kits (i'm an ag brewer and see no reason to go back to extract)
does not stock grain, hops and only carries US-05
very small shop

Online shops:
+
often easier
wealth of knowledge in the forums
I've been pleased with every purchase i've ever made from them
lots of information included with their kits
excellent customer service
stock everything i need

-
waiting for shipping, living in ct i generally order from nb which isn't bad, b3 takes longer as they are in CA.  
i worry about the yeast health in transit during extreme temperatures

I'm all for supporting local business, especially those related to brewing but i have a hard time shopping at either.  Shop 1 i vow to never go back to every time i walk out of there and get gouged on price.  Shop 2 just doesn't stock most of the items I need.  I'll go to shop 2 for all my wine making (i brew way more beer than wine) and for general equipment (carboys, siphons, brushes).  He has mentioned that he will hopefully eventually stock grain, but I don't think that he has enough room.

Good luck
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: tygo on February 09, 2010, 04:10:37 PM
Are you talking about myLHBS?  I just recently noticed that it existed and haven't had a chance to get down there yet.

Yep, that's the one.  Nice enough place, just not exactly easy for me to get to.

Yeah, not coming from Manassas.  I occasionally visit an office of ours down on Skyline Drive on Rt 7 which will take me right past it so I'll probably try to stop in next time I'm down there.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on February 09, 2010, 05:02:40 PM
I will also break it down this way.

LHBS wants to sell me 1lb of Marris Otter for $2.75  ??? so I started to buy in bulk.
I drive 1 to 1.5 hour one way to NB or Midwest Supply.
One bag of MO is still $60.
If I need fresh yeast I check with LHBS but most likely I have to drive to NB or Midwest Supply.

So I buy hops from HopsDirrect http://www.hopsdirect.com/hops/pellethops.html
Organize Grain Club Buy from Mid County Malt Supply http://www.countrymaltgroup.com/
and culture my own yeast www.myhouse.yeast.com  ;D.

So bottom line is:
I would support my LHBS if they support me.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: roffenburger on February 10, 2010, 02:36:52 AM
I think something to seriously think about is online sales. I really like one of the LHBS here. They are alway helpful, and pleasant to deal with. Prices are higher though. They have a really really good selection of grain, and they have never been out of stock on anything that I have needed. Everything has alway been fresh too.

The convenience of having the place close and a fantastic selection of ingredients somewhat makes up for the higher prices.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: cpatak on February 10, 2010, 06:35:18 AM
Thanks so far for all your responses.

I think I already knew what I have heard but needed some confirmation of this...I suspect it is hard to make a living only running a homebrew shop so I started to consider subsidizing that business with an adjacent craft beer store/distributor. :-\
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: edward on February 10, 2010, 11:57:45 AM
You may also want to start off with a co-op.  Contact all the local homebrew clubs and start off with bulk orders and then work your way into an actual storefront.  You can operate the co-op out of your house until you get set up.

There is no LHBS within 90 miles of me and even that one is crap.  I order everything online except for bulk grain, which is where the co-op comes in.  I guess technically the guy running the operation is sort of like a store (he does carry yeast, sanitizer, and a few specialty grains), but he doesn't order grain until the bulk order hits 500lbs.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: akr71 on February 10, 2010, 12:50:47 PM
You may also want to start off with a co-op.  Contact all the local homebrew clubs and start off with bulk orders and then work your way into an actual storefront.  You can operate the co-op out of your house until you get set up.
+1 as long as you make a little something for the time and effort you put into setting up the bulk orders and delivery (& maybe storage).  If you want to keep it weekends and evenings and have the room for a home business, I see this as the way to go.

BTW my LHBS is friendly and prices are reasonable, but they don't stock grain, hops or liquid yeast.  I order from a shop 2.5 hours away and have them ship to me or schedule my grain purchases around when I can make it to the city.  For that reason, a grain mill is my next purchase.
Title: Re: Homebrew Shops Plus and Minus
Post by: makemehoppy on February 10, 2010, 12:51:19 PM
That is a great idea, be the bulk grain and hops distributor. You can probably even buy bulk specialty grains and sell them off in 1 or 5 lb increments.
I like my local shop because of all the great advice I get there. Now that I've been brewing for 3 years I'm more interested in price. My local also has an internet site and wil ship out orders, but I don't know what percent of their business that represents.
The idea of combining with another beer related retail shop is good as long as you still have time to answer questions that homebrewer will have.