Author Topic: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers  (Read 11649 times)

Offline narvin

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1376
  • Baltimore
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #45 on: August 24, 2010, 02:00:56 PM »
How is wholesale grain undermining the retail network?  Most consumers don't have the need, the space, or the time to brew enough to buy malt in bulk quantities.  But, for those who do, it's a great alternative.  The point of retail isn't to hold consumers hostage and force them to pay middleman mark-ups; it should provide service, convenience, and smaller quantities for sale.  Consumers who don't need these things have every right to buy in bulk, and as we've seen in other areas of retail, this works very well for both the consumer and the businesses.  If you aren't making money as a specialty shop, maybe you should look at your business model and your attitudes before blaming the customers who (rightly) want to save money.  If your LHBS gives bad advice (as many do, sadly), why not buy online when you can get better prices and advice from the Northern Brewer website?
Please do not reply if your an evil alien!
Thanks
Chris S.

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8195
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2010, 02:27:04 PM »
I don't think anyone is questioning whether or not you have the right to order online and buy in bulk, but whether it is the best long-term strategy for those who want to have a strong and vibrant hobby community, and want to be able to get stuff on the spur of the moment rather than have to wait days for shipping.

Personally I buy as much as possible from my LHBS, and order some stuff online when it makes most sense.  I'm also friends with my LHBS owner, so there's some loyalty there.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline redbeerman

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1803
  • On the banks of the mighty Susquehanna in MD
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2010, 03:58:44 PM »
I buy from my LHBS for most things like specialty malts, yeast, cleaning supplies, etc.  They also do group buys with NCM and their other grain suppliers.  They realize that some of their customers do buy in bulk, so they sponsor the buy, make a few bucks off each sack and the customer still saves over buying in bulk as a single.  Everybody wins.  And this gets more folks in the store to buy other things as well.  Their business seems to be thriving as well.  I've known them for years and their advice is pretty solid too.  I still buy from NCM a couple times a year, but only if I'm in a pinch for base malt.
CH3CH2OH - Without it, life itself would be impossible.

[441, 112.1deg] AR

Jim

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8808
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #48 on: August 24, 2010, 06:21:40 PM »
I buy from my LHBS for most things like specialty malts, yeast, cleaning supplies, etc.  They also do group buys with NCM and their other grain suppliers.  They realize that some of their customers do buy in bulk, so they sponsor the buy, make a few bucks off each sack and the customer still saves over buying in bulk as a single.  Everybody wins.  And this gets more folks in the store to buy other things as well.  Their business seems to be thriving as well.  I've known them for years and their advice is pretty solid too.  I still buy from NCM a couple times a year, but only if I'm in a pinch for base malt.

Jim...this is my sentiment exactly.  ;)
Ron Price

Offline grainpaw

  • Retailers
  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #49 on: August 25, 2010, 11:32:34 AM »
Here's the link for the press release on the Brewcraft purchase:  http://www.graincorp.com.au/media/2010%20Media/Great%20Western%20Malting%20Company%20Purchases%20Brewcraft%20USA.pdf

How is public wholesale grain sales not undermining the retail network? Look at the empty storefronts on Main Street in any small town with a Wal-Mart a few miles away. Same difference.

In fact, I carry a Northern Brewer catalog in my briefcase to check my prices against, and will check prices online sometimes, so that I have realistic and competitive prices, and sales tax is generally less than shipping on a small order under $120 or so. I have been homebrewing and making wine since 1978 and selling supplies since 1991, and have some commercial winery experience. I haven't done it all yet, but I know more than most of the people who walk into the shop, and am able to help the ones who are able to listen.

The club I helped found 15 years ago has essentially divorced me over just the discussion for a bulk malt order. Unfortunately it was done entirely on the club's Yahoo Groups site, I was not able to talk to anyone in person in the couple of weeks it took for everything to fall apart. They said, let's do a bulk order, I said, OK, let's work out details, here's my wholesaler's website so you can see what is available, I guess I could do a 15% discount. They said, oh no, we want more like a 25% discount, and we don't want to pay sales tax (3% on food). 15% is about the limit of my profit margin in a good year, never mind when I am paying off a loan needed to recover from a flood that almost killed the business a year earlier. The guy who spends $600 a pop on wine kits, and the commercial winery that occasionally needs something, are happy with 5% off. Then someone who was trying to be helpful said, hey, look at the North Country Malt website, maybe their prices are better than your wholesaler's (nice selection, but about the same price level as it turned out). Someone else said, hey we could order together and you could take what we don't want of the specialty grains and sell it in the shop. Well, there is no way I could buy maybe 20-25 pounds of something I may only sell 5 or 10 of in a year (less, with the club not needing any), plus a legal-for-trade scale to weigh out pounds with. The club was wanting me to sell at a loss, evade taxes, do most of the work and paperwork,and take on extra expense and inventory that would be stale before it was all sold, all on the off chance that they would buy something else at regular price. Try that in any store and see how far you get. It's not realistic. So I said, all you need now is someone with a credit card and a forklift. The 55 pound bag of pale malt that was on the shelf when all this happened is still there, a year and a half later, until I use it, most likely. Net result, instead of being on the shelf, big bags are now special order, come back next week. I have about 30 different specialty malts, but no more than 5 pounds of each, and 3 to 5 base malts in 10 pound bags. I still relax, don't worry, and have a homebrew, and save money and time by being home and brewing instead of driving 70 miles round trip to a club meeting that was getting less enjoyable every time I went, even before this happened.

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8195
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #50 on: August 25, 2010, 11:36:37 AM »
That's a real bummer.  I hate stories like that.   :(
Tom Schmidlin

Offline narvin

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1376
  • Baltimore
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #51 on: August 25, 2010, 11:43:03 AM »

How is public wholesale grain sales not undermining the retail network? Look at the empty storefronts on Main Street in any small town with a Wal-Mart a few miles away. Same difference.


Or, you could take a look at Costco, a bulk retailer that actually pays its employees a decent wage and has great service.  And then look down the road at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, high end specialty stores that are also thriving.  Two sides of the coin, able to coexist.  The economic distress in small town America has a lot more to do with our economy than the fact that Wal Mart came to town.
Please do not reply if your an evil alien!
Thanks
Chris S.

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 13673
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #52 on: August 25, 2010, 11:44:36 AM »
Personally I buy as much as possible from my LHBS, and order some stuff online when it makes most sense.  I'm also friends with my LHBS owner, so there's some loyalty there.

Exactly my situation, too.  Our club does a group buy once a year throug a local brewery, and the prices are so low that I wouldn't think of asking my LHBS owner ( a good friend) to try to match them.  He probably pays more than that wholesale.  But once my malt from that purchase is used up, I make it a point to buy from him, and always get everything else through him.  As a former small business owner myself, I want to support the local guys as much as I possibly can.  But that doesn't extend as far as paying over double for sack of grain.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7597
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #53 on: August 25, 2010, 11:53:43 AM »
I found that penny-pinching my ingredients made me unhappy. I whined about it (prices) endlessly. Currently, I've got my economy of scale going, and save where I can, mainly with bulk hop purchases.

Otherwise I no longer care if I save a few pennies here or there- especially with grain since bulk-ordering is pretty much out of the question. Trying to be pragmatic and realistic about the whole issue. I support my LHBS and only ask that he keeps stuff consistently in stock, which he usually does if he can get it. I'll drop $120 in there without blinking and I get no discounts.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Be Sure To Vote Jonathan Fuller for Governing Committee!

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8195
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #54 on: August 25, 2010, 11:55:21 AM »
Our club does a group buy once a year throug a local brewery, and the prices are so low that I wouldn't think of asking my LHBS owner ( a good friend) to try to match them.  He probably pays more than that wholesale.
Sounds like you need to hook the LHBS owner up with your bulk buy :)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline redbeerman

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1803
  • On the banks of the mighty Susquehanna in MD
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #55 on: August 25, 2010, 01:16:31 PM »
My LHBS buys multiple 55 lb sacks of base grains and weighs out what the customer needs at the time of purchase.  He buys some specialty malts in bulk as well.  I don't understand how your club buy wouldn't work out for you unless you don't do a very high volume of business in the first place.   Something isn't making sense to me here.  No offense intended.  Unless of course you only sell kits and pre-weighed packages of grain, that would explain the issue.
CH3CH2OH - Without it, life itself would be impossible.

[441, 112.1deg] AR

Jim

Offline MrNate

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 967
  • Bridgewater, NJ
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #56 on: August 25, 2010, 04:14:59 PM »
How is public wholesale grain sales not undermining the retail network? Look at the empty storefronts on Main Street in any small town with a Wal-Mart a few miles away. Same difference.

Wholesale public sales of any item undermines the retail sale of that item (and in this case, only that item). The question is whether or not we as consumers should be concerned. Of course retailers would be concerned, but most of us aren't retailers. Wal-Mart is a discount retailer, not a wholesaler. Big difference, and an all around bad comparison.

Sorry you've had bad experiences, but I'm not about to drive an hour to pay $90 for something that I can get shipped to my door for $60. I know it's tough to run this kind of business, but I don't feel bad enough to let myself be willingly gouged unless there's some good and compelling reason. For most other items, a competitive LHBS within 10 miles or so would get my business. For what it's worth, though, I would have told that club to pound sand as well. You're not in Princeton, are you?
“If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception.”

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8195
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #57 on: August 25, 2010, 09:20:38 PM »
Sorry you've had bad experiences, but I'm not about to drive an hour to pay $90 for something that I can get shipped to my door for $60.
Here's part of the problem when we're talking on-line from all over the place.

Your LHBS is an hour away?  That's not local as far as I'm concerned.  I have no less than 6 homebrew shops within an hour of my house.  There's 2 shops within 5 minutes of my daily commute if there's no traffic.  And for the record, even as close as they are I might not pay $90 for something I can get shipped to me for $60 either.  But would I pay $65?  Sure.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline drf255

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #58 on: August 26, 2010, 02:05:39 AM »
I'm definitely in the minority on this one.

My LHBS has awesome prices on sacks of grain.  I pay less than $50 for a sack of american 2 row, and around $50 for Munton's MO and Weyermann Pils.  Belgians are around $60-65. 

I but most of my specialty malts, hops and yeast on-line. It doesnt have alot of variety of these, especially in the summer.  My LHBS gets alot of business from it's bulk grain. 

I do, however, try to give them as much business as possible as their conveinece can't be beat.

I am personally in the anti-walmart/home depot/etc club.  I support the local business in my town, even if it costs me a few bucks extra.  I watched a CVS and an Eckard Drugs open across the street from each other in my town and put 3 mom and pop pharmacies out of business.  They also bought the local market for one of their stores which now forces me to travel for a supermarket (even thogh the cost is less).

Offline MrNate

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 967
  • Bridgewater, NJ
    • View Profile
Re: North Country Malt to stop selling to homebrewers
« Reply #59 on: August 26, 2010, 06:31:24 AM »
Sorry you've had bad experiences, but I'm not about to drive an hour to pay $90 for something that I can get shipped to my door for $60.
Here's part of the problem when we're talking on-line from all over the place.

Your LHBS is an hour away?  That's not local as far as I'm concerned.  I have no less than 6 homebrew shops within an hour of my house.  There's 2 shops within 5 minutes of my daily commute if there's no traffic.  And for the record, even as close as they are I might not pay $90 for something I can get shipped to me for $60 either.  But would I pay $65?  Sure.

Depending on traffic through New Hope and how stupid I drive, yeah. But I'll make the drive for their grape juice. Which is why I hate the "you guys should support your LHBS" arguments. Trust me, even if you don't you'll be ok. Don't support bad businesses.
“If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception.”