Our Albany, NY club is off to a strong start -- founded in May 2012 and we already have more than 20 attendees at the monthly meetings. We have a "free" tier of membership where you can attend meetings and participate in tastings, etc., but cannot get any of the benefits of group buys, club brew sessions, etc. We're trying to entice more members to sign up for a full membership ($35 a year, prorated), and want to really start pushing the benefits of a paid membership, which will allow us to do more cool stuff.
Initially we will be approaching a few homebrew shops in the region to see if we can work out a discount program with their shop. I'm curious as to how other clubs have navigated their relationship with homebrew shops in their region. I know that this can be a beneficial relationship for all parties: we get people stoked to brew and show at our meetings, the discount keeps club members brewing money local, and the local shops benefit from increased sales. Is there a step here that I am missing? If we are collecting $35 for dues, should a portion of that money go to shops as a kickback for the discount?
Another question: We are fortunate enough to have three shops within a 45 mile radius. Should we work with a single shop, or try to work a discount with all three?
Finally, what are some of the other "relationships" that your club has with local businesses? (Do you get a discount at any pubs or bars with your membership? Discounts on co2 fills? Carpool lane privileges when on official club business?)
Although I can brew some pretty good beer, and have been in active in a few clubs over the years, I'm new at this leadership business! Thanks for the replies.