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Old 03-02-2013, 02:33 PM   #1
TheLastDamnBatch
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Default LHBS Pricing

(Used the closest substitute if exact ingredient not available)

Code:
         PRODUCT                 LHBS             NB           Midwest
3.3lbs Pilsner Malt Syrup       16.99            10.99         9.99
3lbs Extra Light DME            14.99            11.99        11.99
1lb Candi Syrup                  8.99             6.49         5.99
2pkgs Dry Ale Yeast             11.98             7.98         6.58
1oz Perle Hops                   2.69             1.99         1.80
2oz German Tettnanger            5.38             5.00         4.00
Shipping                        12.00*           12.24        12.26

Total*                          73.02            56.68        52.61
*- Estimated gas cost to drive to LHBS and back
*- Total does not included tax or Internet subscription fees to enable online ordering.
*- A good comparison would be LD Carlson wholesale prices as that seems to be where most LHBS (in my area) get their items wholesale. I don't have access to this information.

Comment:

I support LHBS and try to buy ingredients from them once or twice a year because they are local they are valuable in that if you need something you can just go get it. It can't be an easy business to run. I'm sure they aren't rolling in dough.

Questions:

1.) Do you support your LHBS?
2.) Do you believe LHBS prices are reasonable?
3.) From a business standpoint what do you believe the markup is on the items at a LHBS? What is their profit on a $60 purchase? (A rather difficult thing to guess on a brick and mortar business; but maybe some here have an idea.)
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:07 PM   #2
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I no longer live where there is a homebrew supply store in reasonable driving distance. Back home, there was a very small LHBS two blocks from my house. I found myself going there when I needed one or two things. For instance, if I needed an extra glass carboy, I would rather go down the street and pick one up for $36 (tax-free if you had cash, I might add...), than order one online, which would cost the same after shipping, without the wait or the risk of breaking it in transit. This store was mostly wine-oriented, though, and their ingredient selection for beer was slim except for a selection of Munton's True Brew kits (Which are actually a pretty decent extract kit if you don't bother with the yeast inside). So I quit supporting them as much at the point where I wanted to start playing around with my own recipes, and start introducing grain.

Their prices on the small stuff was reasonable considering the low sales volume and overhead cost of a physical establishment. It was handy to go down the street and get a hygrometer for $9 when your cat has a habit of swatting them off of the counter. Siphon tubing was $1 per foot. They had every kind of bottle or carboy you could need, and most were only $2-3 more than online suppliers. The best part is that if you were a regular customer, and you paid cash, he dropped the sales tax.

As far as what kind of markup he placed on his stuff, it's hard to say. I think he did it solely as a hobby, because he owned a more lucrative business next door. If I had to guess, I'd say he was multiplying his wholesale cost by a factor of 2.25.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:13 PM   #3
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I have a LHBS 3 miles from me and I have used them quite a bit, but now I do AG I get my grains and hops in bulk. the price difference is double in the LHBS. But as its not far from me or where I work I can get there in 5 mins. I only use it now for the odd speciality grains or yeast.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:18 PM   #4
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I no longer buy from my LHBS, the prices are too high. It is cheaper for me to order all my ingredients from Rebel Brewer. Plus they are so fast, I usually get it the next day with standard shipping. The way I look at it; I don't have to spend money on gas or wear and tear on the truck, just have to open my front door to gain grain
It is at least 20 dollars cheaper than the LHBS and that is including shipping.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:20 PM   #5
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The closest LHBS is an hour away from me. The service is great, and they have a decent selection of grains and yeasts. (Hops, not so much.) Everything is, without exception, more expensive than online retailers. (Except for champagne yeast, for some reason.) If the store was in my town, it'd be a different story. But when I factor in the big time and gas expense in getting there, there's no point.

What I don't get is exactly why it is so much more expensive to buy in person than it is online. I can hear all the usual reasons now: larger volume, lower overhead, etc. The thing is, homebrew stores I've seen often seem to be in industrial parts of town, not on the strip with high rent prices. They often deal a large volume, perhaps selling products online in addition to a storefront. The one an hour away from me does all this and is STILL significantly more expensive than other online retailers. So I don't know... maybe there are regional markets in play against national markets. Maybe they sell a good deal to first-time brewers/winemakers and depend on a less knowledgeable customer base. In any case, it's hard to beat Norcal Brewing Solutions, Rebel, or MoreBeer.

It's nice to support "local" business and brick and mortar stores, but I don't really need to pay a premium for their expertise. I just need the stuff to make beer.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:24 PM   #6
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I buy 95% of my stuff from my LHBS. Prices are pretty good but a little higher than online. I often buy hops from Farmhouse, but almost everything else. They do something that I like. You can buy 50 lbs of grain (any base grain) and everytime you come in you just get what you need and he subtracts from the total. It is great because any base grain qualifies. So if you want Belgian Pils one time and then Marris Otter another you can get it. You then buy your specialty grains seperately.

I like to support the local guy and keep him in business. He has saved a couple of brew days where I needed something at the last minute.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:24 PM   #7
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Yes I support my local homebrew store when it makes fiscal sense. I am fortunate enough to live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota so I have access to Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies. The bad news is I live on the north side of the cities and it is a long drive to Midwest. Northern Brewer is closer but their location is kind of a pain because it is near downtown and they dont have a parking lot so you have to park on a busy street. Also NB store is small and cluttered.

Brew and Grow is the closest HBS to me and they are super nice and very helpful and they have a very nice selection, however it is not as good as the selection of Midwest or NB. Their prices are a bit higher in some cases but if I factor gas and time they are definitely competitive.

I used to drive cross town to get my grain because Brew and Grow did not have a grain room and I didn't like having to buy more grain than I needed but they just recently opened their grain room and it is really nice. Now the only time I have to drive cross town is if Brew and Grow doesn't have what I need.

Also talk to your LHBS. They may offer brew clubs a discount or special perks. I know Brew and Grow does and that makes them more competitive.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beergolf View Post
I buy 95% of my stuff from my LHBS. Prices are pretty good but a little higher than online. I often buy hops from Farmhouse, but almost everything else. They do something that I like. You can buy 50 lbs of grain (any base grain) and everytime you come in you just get what you need and he subtracts from the total. It is great because any base grain qualifies. So if you want Belgian Pils one time and then Marris Otter another you can get it. You then buy your specialty grains seperately.

I like to support the local guy and keep him in business. He has saved a couple of brew days where I needed something at the last minute.
That is a pretty cool concept.
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:32 PM   #9
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My LHBS is 3 blocks away. Guy is super knowledgable and helpful. I wish I could afford to get everything there but... Some prices are just way too high, I know the profit margin isn't all that high, and feel like I should keep buying there if I keep going in to shoot the **** or ask questions but as a full time student with a house, it's just not in the cards. Everything is about 50% higher, except bulk grain. 50% more for a batch and at 2/month that's like paying for 3. I still try to hit him up for equipment etc. which is about the same as anywhere online.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:46 PM   #10
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I won't support a LHBS because they are local, sorry, I just think that is a silly notion. Whether they are in TX, CA, NY, or the Midwest they are still my neighbor IMO. When I started brewing and needed help, it was a willing and knowledgeable LHBS that got my business before others. Now that I know what I'm doing it is about price and convenience. I buy grain and yeast from one that has good prices, I buy yeast from another that has a better selection when I need it (higher price still cheaper than shipping though). I buy most all my equipment from online sources though. I'm not willing to support a LHBS that charges twice as much when there is someone else out there running their small business who has figured out a business model that allows them to sell to me cheaper. That's just me, I prefer to donate money to those in need.

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