Membership questions? Log in issues? Email info@brewersassociation.org

Author Topic: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys  (Read 1281 times)

Offline BuffaloBill

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« on: September 26, 2022, 05:31:53 pm »
I generally try to shop at my local home brew shops.  I have two in my area.  I understand there have been supply chain problems, but I think that is largely behind us.  Lately, it has been hard to get fresh ingredients from both stores.  One does not sell liquid malt extract.  Runs out of yeast.  Hard getting equipment.  The other is selling LME that is expired.  I'm wondering if other homebrewers are experiencing the same.  I ended up stopping at the Northern Brewer store in Milwaukee when I was recently up that way.  They had everything I needed and it was a very nice buying experience.  Sometimes I think the small shops are in the business half heartedly. 

Offline tommymorris

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 3868
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2022, 05:42:13 pm »
Forgive me for saying this.  We live in a capitalist country where competition is the name of the game. Competition usually yields lower prices for the same or better quality. It can be ugly. People may be paid less than we want. Local companies may be driven out of business. But, productivity, resourcefulness, efficiency, and ultimately lower prices are rewarded.

Maybe the home brew market is big enough to support a few national chains, but not big enough to support a local homebrew store in every town. I for one don’t want to feel guilty for searching online and locally for the best price and quality mix.

And another thing, maybe innovations in brewing equipment and techniques have made malt extract unnecessary as an entry level brewing ingredient. Maybe we don’t need to feel guilty for not occasionally brewing an extract beer.

Offline Megary

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1121
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2022, 06:21:00 am »
Luckily for me, my only LHBS closed a few years back, so when I buy on-line, guilt has nothing to do with it.   ;D

Offline Kevin

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 719
  • Great beer. Less work. More fun.
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2022, 06:35:45 am »
It's a little more complicated that supply chain issues. Which, by the way is still a problem. Your local store is struggling. Try not to abandon them altogether. My LHBS recently could not get a certain brand of yeast. A brand that I almost exclusively use every brew day. I could order online somewhere else but I chose to use another brand they carry. If you absolutely have to have something they no longer stock then get it where you can. Otherwise see what else they carry that may work just as well. btw, my local store sells online and they have excellent customer service. It may not be local to you but they are an independent retailer... https://www.hopcraftsupply.com/
“He was a wise man who invented beer.”
- Plato

Offline BrewBama

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 6020
Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2022, 07:01:50 am »
When I go to the health food store that carries a little brewing stuff, I have to go with an open mind knowing they may not have my first choice. They could have a suitable substitute that I can get. It’s possible they don’t have what I need at all, but if I’m in the area I’ll at least give them a shot.

They will order what I need but I can order it myself and get it just as fast delivered to my door vs having to go get it.  Sometimes, I can get it cheaper online including delivery.

It is noticeable that they started off with a larger selection than they have now.  … but admittedly I don’t go down there as often as I used to due to the distance from my house.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2022, 07:06:36 am by BrewBama »

Offline BuffaloBill

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2022, 07:57:46 am »
I am trying to strike a balance.  I get good info, advice, and feedback at my local store.  So I don’t mind paying a bit more for those things.  I don’t want to pick their brains and then spend my money elsewhere.  However, if I need something quickly or they don’t have something I want, I’ll go somewhere else.  And, yes, I think many small businesses are having a tough time.  I also understand  that shipping costs from their suppliers have gone up quite a bit as well.

Offline Steve Ruch

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1742
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2022, 07:58:57 am »
It's a little more complicated that supply chain issues. Which, by the way is still a problem. Your local store is struggling. Try not to abandon them altogether. My LHBS recently could not get a certain brand of yeast. A brand that I almost exclusively use every brew day. I could order online somewhere else but I chose to use another brand they carry. If you absolutely have to have something they no longer stock then get it where you can. Otherwise see what else they carry that may work just as well. btw, my local store sells online and they have excellent customer service. It may not be local to you but they are an independent retailer... https://www.hopcraftsupply.com/
My last order came from them: good service. The main reason I went there was they stock the Crisp Chevalier heritage malt.
I love to go swimmin'
with hairy old women

Offline Steve Ruch

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1742
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2022, 08:02:25 am »
There used to be a local shop in Fort Wayne, but it closed before I moved here. There's a hardware store the next town over that carries some supplies, but they never responded to an email query so I figure they don't want my business.
I love to go swimmin'
with hairy old women

Offline ynotbrusum

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 4864
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2022, 08:38:39 am »
My LHBS pivoted to become a cidery and taproom, also hosting local and import beers on tap.  They have retained the brew supplies fully and carry limited equipment.  They appear to be thriving, but the bar business seems to be the real reason for that.  Some states make it difficult to operate with a multi-modal arrangement involving making and selling on premises, while also serving alcohol products from other various sources.  And then there is the labeling issues presented by the federal government....Any LHBS business that can operate in this complex environment gets my appreciation and business - but the national online guys sometimes are the only source for certain things and I don't get hung up on occasionally buying from them.
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline Drewch

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
  • Just this guy, you know?
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2022, 09:35:57 am »
I try to support the LHBS in the same way that I try to shop local in general — independent bookstores, cafes, etc.  We can argue all day about whether Walmart, Amazon, et al., are "good" for the economy, but I choose to vote with my dollars for small businesses whenever I can.

And your LHBS can be a natural center of gravity for the local homebrewing scene in a way that an online retailer can never be.

But the market's cutthroat and margins are tight. I almost wonder if it wouldn't be easier for a local brewery to sell ingredients on the side than try to stay afloat as a standalone LHBS....
The Other Drew

Home fermentations since 2019.

Member at large of the Central Alabama Brewers Society and the League of Drews.

Offline MNWayne

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 446
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2022, 09:54:21 am »
My LHBS is 4.5 hours away, so when I pass by it, I load up on 50lb sacks of grain and specialty grains I'll need in the short term.  Gave up on their liquid yeast, to many dead packs, now it's only dry.  Hops have never been fresh, so I buy bulk from Hop Heaven. Everything else comes mail order.
Far better to dare mighty things....

narvin

  • Guest
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2022, 12:40:33 pm »
Small and local is good... if it's a good business.  There's struggling due to market conditions, and then there's poorly run.  If you like them, support them through tough times, but small isn't always better.

Offline chinaski

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 566
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2022, 04:37:03 pm »
Forgive me for saying this.  We live in a capitalist country where competition is the name of the game. Competition usually yields lower prices for the same or better quality. It can be ugly. People may be paid less than we want. Local companies may be driven out of business. But, productivity, resourcefulness, efficiency, and ultimately lower prices are rewarded.

Maybe the home brew market is big enough to support a few national chains, but not big enough to support a local homebrew store in every town. I for one don’t want to feel guilty for searching online and locally for the best price and quality mix.

And another thing, maybe innovations in brewing equipment and techniques have made malt extract unnecessary as an entry level brewing ingredient. Maybe we don’t need to feel guilty for not occasionally brewing an extract beer.
I forgive you but do my level best not to premise anything by "please forgive me but...".  You don't need forgiveness for stating what's on your mind- it's all good.

I know my LhBS shop owners pretty well because they do more than sell supplies.  They get people into the hobby and serve as a resource for beginning brewers, judge competitions, and have many of the things I need.  I want their business to be around so if I need something quickly I can usually get it or something else that will work so I can brew.  They are serving a niche beyond what the "big boys" can offer.  I actually use both.  I like knowing that they are there, and that my spending in their shop is supporting a family that loves the hobby as much as I do.  Yes, there are items that I don't buy from them- and they probably know that.

Offline tommymorris

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 3868
Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2022, 07:10:34 pm »
Forgive me for saying this.  We live in a capitalist country where competition is the name of the game. Competition usually yields lower prices for the same or better quality. It can be ugly. People may be paid less than we want. Local companies may be driven out of business. But, productivity, resourcefulness, efficiency, and ultimately lower prices are rewarded.

Maybe the home brew market is big enough to support a few national chains, but not big enough to support a local homebrew store in every town. I for one don’t want to feel guilty for searching online and locally for the best price and quality mix.

And another thing, maybe innovations in brewing equipment and techniques have made malt extract unnecessary as an entry level brewing ingredient. Maybe we don’t need to feel guilty for not occasionally brewing an extract beer.
I forgive you but do my level best not to premise anything by "please forgive me but...".  You don't need forgiveness for stating what's on your mind- it's all good.

I know my LhBS shop owners pretty well because they do more than sell supplies.  They get people into the hobby and serve as a resource for beginning brewers, judge competitions, and have many of the things I need.  I want their business to be around so if I need something quickly I can usually get it or something else that will work so I can brew.  They are serving a niche beyond what the "big boys" can offer.  I actually use both.  I like knowing that they are there, and that my spending in their shop is supporting a family that loves the hobby as much as I do.  Yes, there are items that I don't buy from them- and they probably know that.
I read your comments as you find value in your LHBS. That’s good. In my town have two options; (1) a health food store that doesn’t know about brewing, has poor inventory, has so much incense the grains seem smell like incense, has bad storage methods, and high prices, and (2) a brewery that sells a hand full (maybe 10-12 malts) of ingredients at a decent price.

I don’t find value in number #1. Option #2 is a new option. I can see going in for some base malt and a pint.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2022, 10:17:54 pm by tommymorris »

Offline Visor

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 748
Re: Local Home Brew Shops are Driving Me to the Big Boys
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2022, 07:54:28 pm »
   FWIW, supply chain issues are only marginally better than they were 2 years ago - if at all, and now fuel is significantly more expensive. Add in the inflation of the past year, the worst in over 40 years, and it's surprising any LHBS are still open. Those of you who are fortunate enough to have 1 or more LHBS near you probably won't fully understand their value until after you no longer have that option available.
I spent most of my money on beer, tools and guns, the rest I foolishly squandered on stupid stuff!