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Old 04-03-2006, 12:35 PM   #1
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Default How do homebrew stores even stay in business?

My nearest LHBS is in Topeka, about an hour's drive. Now, Topeka is not the kind of town that's really going to draw people in, let's just leave it at that. Nobody in my town goes to Topeka for excitement, because Kansas City is only an hour further.

Anyway, I went in there a couple weeks ago to pick up some Wyeast 1056 or Safale 56 (they don't carry white labs.) I had a few other errands to run in Topeka, and yeast is one thing I'd rather not mail order if I can avoid it.

They were out of both. Had nothing that could acceptably substitute.

Of course, neither their prices nor their selection can compete with More Beer or Austin Homebrew or the like.

A LHBS is in a real catch-22: ingredients are perishable and obviously they don't want to have a huge inventory of yeast, hops, etc. But if they can't compete on price and selection, and they don't have something as basic as 1056 in stock, why are people going to go there?

(Besides, it's in a seedy neghborhood and the store reeks of cat urine...)

It's got to be a tough business to make a go of.

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Old 04-03-2006, 12:43 PM   #2
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I used to go to one in s.f. that was opened in 1979! The place sucked ass though, the guy would store his whole hops in sandwich bags sitting on a shelf exposed to sunlight and everything. I would only go there when my other, new school shop was closed, or in emergencies. Me and my friends would talk mad sh*t about the guy too. Turns out the guy died, and afterwards everybody was talking about what a homebrewing legend this guy was, he was one of the first hbs in the country! (his name was Steve somthing)

Now i look back and think Wow! i lived in a city that had 2 lhbs! Crazy!!!

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Old 04-03-2006, 01:35 PM   #3
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My guy says that he barely does make it and that if his wife didn't have a good job, that he wouldn't. He has a pretty decent selection also. this is in a metro area with 5 brewery/restaurants!

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Old 04-03-2006, 01:50 PM   #4
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Over the years, I've seen 3 pretty nice LHBS close down. I think it's pretty hard to turn a profit these days with a store that specializes in one area. I'm sure wine making helps but even then, how many people make their own wine?
For the good of the hobby, we need to get more people making their own beer and wine!

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Old 04-03-2006, 01:55 PM   #5
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The guy I go to tells me that the wine kits are a huge part of the business. He's tried to focus on the specialty grains/all grain section of the market, and it seems to be paying off. He's the only guy in Manitoba who stocks grains.
I'm happy to have found him, and I'll do whatever I can to send more business his way. He's been a great help.

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Old 04-03-2006, 02:02 PM   #6
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My LHBS does wine, homebrew, and hydroponics stuff. I believe he stays open (and probably makes some money) because he is a valuable resource and has a really good attitude. Instead of having to do a bunch of research if you are a newbie, you could just go to this guy and start talking to him and he'd tell you everything you needed to know.

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Old 04-03-2006, 02:09 PM   #7
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Yeah, and we've got to do our part if we want to keep them and buy locally instead of ordering online! Mine usually ends up a buck or two cheaper anyway, once you figure shipping.

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Old 04-03-2006, 02:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by God Emporer BillyBrew
this is in a metro area
I thought you lived in OKC.
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by God Emporer BillyBrew
Yeah, and we've got to do our part if we want to keep them and buy locally instead of ordering online! Mine usually ends up a buck or two cheaper anyway, once you figure shipping.
That's my problem: I'd really like to support the birck&morter business, but it's just too hard. With it costing $40 to fill the gas tank (erasing any advantage of not paying shipping), and their prices and selection crappy...

I try to run in there whenever I'm in the area...to pick up nickle and dime stuff or yeast if they have what I need.
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:21 PM   #10
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You'd think maybe with craft brewing and brew pubs flourishing, more of these guys might be able to pick up the retail HBS slack. A brewpub would have sh-tloads of grain, hops and yeast on hand--seems like it wouldn't be that big a stretch to maintain a small retail HB shop that's open a couple days a week or something.

Plus you know they'd always sell a pint or two to guys like us once they got us on the premises.

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