Author Topic: Home Brew Supply Startup  (Read 3675 times)

Offline joe_feist

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2013, 10:00:21 AM »
A big one for me is a well stocked, knowledgeable staff. I shop at Siciliano's in Grand Rapids. Hope the plug helps them out (is that OK? I didn't read the FAQ on this). They have a great selection of homebrewing stuff and it's an awesome liquor store, so the hours are wide open. They're active in the beer scene, sponsor competitions, etc. A real pleasure to do business with them. I think that you're going to be OK on this side of the business simply because you cared to ask. 

Something that's also tremendously important is competitive pricing. The LHBS doesn't ahve to be THE lowest price on EVERY item, but be in the game. There is another store that I'll not visit again. I picked up a bunch of stuff for a party and slid by there home brew stuff. I didn't pay attention and paid about double for some Iodophor. I'll still buy beer there when it's convenient, but maybe I'll never purchase another brew supply item.

Good luck if you go forward with the new business!
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Offline stevep

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2013, 10:17:12 AM »
I am contemplating (rather seriously) about starting a Craft Beer and Home Brew Supply....

Hi Gordonwerks!

The AHA has compiled some resources that may assist you in putting together a business plan for a homebrew supply shop. If you email me (steve@brewersassociation.org), I would be happy to forward your way. Cheers!
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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2013, 11:51:35 AM »
Something I see shops loosing on is high-volume customers that want to buy full sacks of grain and keep stores at their house (ie - those who stock their own closet instead of buying for individual recipes). I think LHBS's should do more grain buys and maybe turn it into a club where you buy full-sacks of base malt to join and get a discount of volume purchases of specialty grains through the year. I see many homebrewers abandoning the LHBS for group buys and online sales to get deals on full bags of grain.
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Offline rjharper

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2013, 12:03:55 PM »
My local LHBS is 30 seconds away, because it's in my workshop. I started running a web based LHBS about 9 months ago. I found I was buying more and more supplies in bulk, and decided I could sell off what I wasn't using. Inventory began to expand beyond what I used regularly, but I still keep stuff turning over. It wasn't really a dedicated business plan as much as I've got some spare time and space and I enjoy it.  It's helps that I'm in a college town, and the nearest LHBS was over 1 hr away.

I have a few regular customers, some of whom haven't been brewing that long, but they'll come by the house / workshop, we'll hammer out a recipe, taste whatever I've been brewing and have on tap, then fill their order. It helps that I can order grains and bulk materials through a local nanobrew run by a friend so I get a few bags at pallet prices. It also helps that we do occasional co-brews for firkins to get my company name out there.  It's not going to pay regular bills anytime soon, but it is starting to cover it's costs. My prices are more about being competitive / fair, than they are about making maximum cash. I have homebrewing friends who shop through me, and I can charge them store price with a clear conscience.

What I lose in time I'm gaining in experience and fun in the culture.

Just my 2 cents.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2013, 12:16:26 PM by rjharper »

Offline djsanta

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2013, 12:42:59 PM »
Top of the list is friendly staff.  The closest HBS to me (10 min drive) doesn't have the most welcoming atmosphere.  Fortunately there are two others in the area (15 min and 30 mins) that are great.  The 30 min drive also gets be me best selection of equipment and ingredients, the best prices, and the most knowledgeable staff.  And did I mention friendly?  Staff should be happy to help you, not look annoyed that you're in their store.

I go to the close store if I need a last-minute item for brew day that I know they'll have.  As much as I like to support local business, I make the drive whenever I can.
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Offline leejoreilly

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2013, 05:47:08 AM »
My LHBS is awesome! First, they do all the right retail stuff; they have a great selection, decent prices, knowledgeable and friendly staff and convenient hours. I only shop there maybe once or twice a month, but they all either know my name or know me by sight. Secondly, they are ardent supporters of brewing in general; they provide fantastic support for our local homebrew club, with 10% discounts to members, hosting meetings and Big Brew days, conducting educational sessions and "meet the brewer" opportunities. They are more than just a store; they are an important part of our brewing community.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2013, 07:06:44 AM »
There are five shops in our metropolitan area. Two shops are fairly close to me. One is the oldest shop in the area. They have limited ingredients and supplies. They have cheap grain prices but expensive everything else. They run sort of a general shop so it's questionable how much anybody in the store knows about brewing. If I just need base grain I go there.

The other closest shop is run by one of the members of my homebrew shop. Good variety and most (or all) of the employees are club members. I don't shop there very often although we get a club discount. The prices are the most expensive in town and with the club discount it's still more expensive. The prices are a big deterrent unless I have an urgent need for something. I also don't shop there often because I can't figure out what grain they have available. They keep all the grains in a back room and only employees can go back there. The website isn't always accurate to what they have. I need to know what brands and particular options are available. I don't want American C80 for an English recipe calling for an English medium crystal, even if it is 75 lovibond. I don't trust the employees enough to know I am getting what I really need. It gets very chaotic when it's busy. I'd rather buy online and pay a few extra dollars to know I am getting what I need.

There is another shop further away that I sometimes place orders to pick up if I know I am already driving out to that area. Otherwise I try to place orders online once or twice a year for all the beer I intend to brew that year.
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Offline Scot (one T)

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2013, 07:42:36 AM »
My "local" hbs is 45 minutes away and I still use them for 95% of my supplies and equipment.  They have a solid selection of all ingredients and a more than solid knowledge base. They offer a discount to our club members and deliver orders to club meetings. Now that's what I call service.  They have supported all of the clubs in our area in every way possible.  What I like most about them is that if they are out of an item, they don't try to talk you into a substitute item they are overstocked with.
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Offline bazowie

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2013, 08:14:49 AM »
I use to go to a place 5 min from my house, actually got my first kit there, now 3 years later and much wiser I maybe go there 3 to 4 times a year. I now travel 20 miles into to Oregon because of the prices, If you belong to the home brew club here you get a 10 perc. discount at the Ore store, and the other place wont budge on prices, example $40 for a 50lb bag of 2 row or $30 big difference, when I questioned this they said "they only make a buck or two on their bags". So I buy elsewhere. The people at the first store are very knowledgable but after a few years in, there isnt anything  I cant find out online or in a book. So that being said the most important aspect to me is price.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 08:32:24 AM by bazowie »
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Offline denny

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #24 on: August 13, 2013, 08:53:49 AM »
They give me a discount every time I go there, because I'm there so much.

Yeah, same here.  Plus I send biz their way.
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Offline BrewingRover

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #25 on: August 13, 2013, 10:12:42 AM »
I have a small bottle shop/LHBS 2 miles from me and a couple of full shops a 45 minute or so drive.

The local shop carries some kits and a random selection of Briess grains. I'll buy sanitizer and caps there, but they aren't consistent in their grain stocks, so I don't count on being able to get anything there.

I go to a shop in the city that has a great selection of everything and they seem to turn things over fast enough that it's all fresh. I combine visits there with other errands. Their prices might be higher than online suppliers, but I haven't really compared. Ease of access is more important to me than price, especially with yeast.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #26 on: August 13, 2013, 11:31:02 AM »
To the OP - don't take this wrong, but one thing to remember, however, is that newbies can be huge time suckers, so make sure when you are busy that you have enough staff to ring up the guy who wants a quick in and out on a brew day!  My LHBS is closed on Sundays during the summer (Memorial to Labor days), so going in there on a Saturday knowing that I am burning brewing time (its almost a half hour there from my house) is a bummer if all of the staff are conducting an impromptu "How to Homebrew" class with one customer, rather than checking out the few others waiting to pay.

That being said, when it isn't busy or staff and time clearly allow, expound all you want and let those customers who want to sit around and do the same join in to answer the startup questions.

Is that sending mixed signals?  I hope not - just try to be perceptive.  Good hours help a lot, too, because most customers work during the week, so nights and weekends are your best times, I think.  Be closed on Mondays and then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings - no one will much care about those times.

I hope this helps and doesn't sound too much like a griper, because all in all, I like my LHBS and try to favor it with most of my business.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 11:32:55 AM by ynotbrusum »
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Online theDarkSide

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2013, 11:38:11 AM »
To the OP - don't take this wrong, but one thing to remember, however, is that newbies can be huge time suckers, so make sure when you are busy that you have enough staff to ring up the guy who wants a quick in and out on a brew day! 

This is a good point.  There's a small shop (actually my first LHBS) that is usually run by 1 guy.  Unfortunately, he runs the cash registers, fills extract orders, and loves to talk (and tell you how things are and how they should be done). 

Luckily my current LHBS knows me well enough to get my own grains, and I don't need to take up their time since I usually know what I'm looking for.   
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2013, 01:38:31 PM »
This!

Not just homebrew shops, really any shop. Nothing worse than standing there with $200 worth in hand, ready to buy and go, and the shop expert is telling everything he knows to a guy who doesn't buy anything and is really just killing time while his wife is getting her hair done across the street.

Offline swampale

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Re: Home Brew Supply Startup
« Reply #29 on: August 15, 2013, 04:50:35 AM »
Have everything that I would need on brewday. I live in a city with a population of around 100,000 with no LHBS. I have to mail order everything, or drive 90 min to Toronto. I would be great to have a HB store around here where I can walk in and grab stuff of the shelf. Please don't store dry yeast on the shelf instead of in the fridge. As soon as I see that I know I am on my own here.