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Old 02-28-2007, 12:22 AM   #1
PsiWulf7
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Default Homebrew Shop advice

Hey. My buddy and I are looking into starting a homebrew store up in Chicago. I've got the homebrewing thing down, in terms of theory, at least, and I'm pretty sure I know what I should carry. I've got a pretty solid finance background, as well. What I'm not sure about are some of the performance metrics of average homebrew shops.

Have any of you had experience running a homebrew shop? I'd love any advice I could get! How long did it take you to turn a positive month? What kind of inventory do you carry? Did you add other things into the inventory?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 02-28-2007, 12:26 AM   #2
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I personally think you should at least know a fair bit about brewing before opening a brew related store.

Just my .02

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Old 02-28-2007, 12:30 AM   #3
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Brewing for four years, beer, cider, mead, wine. 2 years as a wine steward, six months of that spent at an 18,000 sq ft. liquor store with a massive beer selection (which I dealt with daily). I've got that down enough to run a store, and I have a partner who brews as well. What I'm curious about are start up concerns that I may not be anticipating.

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Old 02-28-2007, 12:35 AM   #4
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It's been my observation that it is just about impossible to survive selling just homebrew gear & supplies. Most successful shops also sell wine equipment and supplies (winos will spend thousands of dollars on equipment to make mediocre wine, whereas homebrewers are cheap) or cater to the microbreweries and wineries.

Have a website from the very beginning.

Make certain you have a good crusher. Bulk LME extract is good, you only need two or three kinds.

Doesn't hurt to have some of your own on tap for sampling, if the local laws allow it.

Startups always cost 2-3 times what you think they will. Believe me, I'm there.

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Old 02-28-2007, 12:55 AM   #5
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Downtown Chicago?

I think you're going to find that it's nearly, if not totally, impossible to compete with the internet HBS's with significantly lower overhead. And besides, is there much of a market in the city? Seems like all the Illinois everyone that frequents this board are from the burbs. I know it's a small sample size, but you might want to do some market research on it.

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Old 02-28-2007, 01:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdwj
Downtown Chicago?
Middle North, probably. Between Addison and Foster (that's a 14 block range). There are several fairly small locations within a few blocks of Wrigley that we've scoped. They're fairly inexpensive, when the area is considered, and they'd offer enough space.

I'm planning on vintnering supplies being a major portion of my sales, as well as beer and wine paraphernalia. If we're going to be within a few blocks of Wrigley, we'll have a great market for steins, mugs, decanters, and so on. The space we're looking into is a very small retail space, but the attached climate controlled basement is HUGE and I could hold probably two to three times floor inventory down there. The place is pretty nice, as well. Exposed brick, hardwood floors, lofted ceilings with custom track lighting, all put in by the lawyer who was there before. He's moved his practice to the loop, and just wants a little bit on the side from his old building.

Y'all have given me some great advice, thanks!
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Old 02-28-2007, 01:25 AM   #7
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Try not to be cranky.

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Old 02-28-2007, 01:28 AM   #8
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I was also going to say...

The two or three dozen home brewers I know all go almost exclusively to the tiny, fairly dirty, back alley little homebrew store nearer to downtown than we'd be. They have an extremely limited selection and little to no hardware, and they seem to be doing well enough. I'm pretty sure their rent is next to nothing. Most people I know have gotten one too many dead pitch tubes or broken boxes in the mail to get much from the Internet homebrew places, and they're also pretty tired of paying shipping fees. I think that the availability of a local homebrewing store would bring a lot of Chicagoland people in. I know there are dozens of homebrewers just in my circle, and that would suggest hundreds, maybe thousands more on the North Side. And with all of the colleges in the area, we will be carrying Mr. Beer!

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Old 02-28-2007, 01:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olllllo
Try not to be cranky.
It's hard to communicate tone on the internet... I was trying to be succinct as opposed to cranky. Sorry!
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Old 02-28-2007, 01:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
Startups always cost 2-3 times what you think they will. Believe me, I'm there.
Do you have a homebrew shop down in Willimina (I thought it was WillAmina, or am i confused?) or something? (I know that seems like a stupid question from somebody in MT, but I'm hoping to move back to either PDX or EUG sometime soon-ish, and should that ever come to pass, there's nothing I enjoy more than road tripping and buying homebrew stuff....)
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