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Old 03-28-2011, 03:04 PM   #1
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Default A Rant About Online Homebrew Supply Shops

Ok, this is a rant to get this off my chest. Not aimed or about any one in particular supplier/retailer.

I am frustrated. There are many internet based homebrew supply shops. In my area, I do not have a convenient LHBS (the closest one is over an hours drive 1 way). So I do most of my shopping on the internet.

What I find frustrating is the fact there is not one supplier who carries everything. I frequently find myself have to go to multiple sites in the hope of finding everything I need in one place. But this is rare. I find myself having to order from several stores. And when I do find what I want, it is often out of stock.

The reason I want everything in one place is due to the exorbitant shipping fees. One retailer wanted to charge me 15 dollars to mail me my order which consisted of 2 small brass fittings and a pound of flaked barley. This might have weighed 1.5 pounds. USPS has flat rate shipping of like $5 for priority mail. And yes, this order would easily fit in the box. Another site was charging me $75 to ship a kettle! Sometimes I feel we get gouged on prices due to the limited suppliers of hobby.

Now, many of you would reply "Well if your unhappy, then start your own store". I am looking into it, but I want to have a retail and internet store and it takes time and money, which I am working on.

Another comment may be that a store can not have everything or manufactures may have shortages like Blichmann does now. I understand those shortages.

I plan to create a Super Wal-Mart of homebrew shops. One stop shopping. This will take money and time. One of the things I feel is important is to have a customer feedback and since I can not think of everything a brewer may want, have a system for brewers to make special requests or give input on what I carry.

Sorry for the long winded rant, but its frustrating.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:08 PM   #2
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You must be looking at the wrong online shops. All the big ones have flat rate shipping. $6.99 and $7.99 is the norm.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:13 PM   #3
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Austin homebrew and brewmasters warehouse does. But they don't carry everything and are often out of stock. I have all the major suppliers saved.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:18 PM   #4
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I have found that http://www.homebrewit.com/ has had just about everything i have ever needed. They are not perfect but they have done well by me so far.

However i would love to see some other sites that others prefer.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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I wish some of the online guys were down the street from me. Let me know when you open up your online discount supply shop and I would be happy to give it a try.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:18 PM   #6
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You will never find a shop that has everything and everything in stock. Ever.

For shipping, some places have flat rate shipping for most items except heavy/bulk items which are charged actual shipping costs. Northern Brewer comes to mind. So does MoreBeer.

Mail order companies often use only one shipping company and it's generally not the US mail service. Adding a second or third option is not efficient and USPS is expensive on heavy items. With UPS or FedEx, you get an actual tracking number that's updated daily, not a confirmation number when it's finally arrived. You are also covered for insurance up to $100 at no additional charge. None of that you will get for $5 small flat rate box shipping with USPS.

Opening your own store will give you a hard lesson teaching you it's impossible to please everyone every time.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:19 PM   #7
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Isn't there a homebrew shop in Tampa? I know there is a big homebrew club there, too.

As far as online ordering, plan out your brews in advance, buy in bulk, and have a backup for any crucial equipment. That way, you can order incrementally every few months from different stores, completing your inventory that way.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:27 PM   #8
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My only big issue is the shipping. Sometimes I will only need 5lbs of grain and somehow shipping is 11 bucks... Thats anoying... Even though its flat rate shipping it's still good if you order a lot of stuff but as for me I only order small orders because of money issues.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:34 PM   #9
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I know you can not have everything and please everyone all the time. I even said that in my post. Thats why it would be great for suppliers to have a system to allow for requests. Maybe if enough people want something, they can stock it.

I have run my own business before and know the ups and downs.

Yes there is a homebrew store in Tampa, however I live over an hour away, and driving to Tampa and dealing with the traffic is awful.

I think the shipping costs are the biggest sore spot. And using more than one carrier and having options is not hard or difficult. You can get a tracking number from USPS and the flat rate priority mail is great and cheap. Its awful when shipping is more than the total cost of the order.

The downside to using internet suppliers is being able to go to the shop and talk "shop" and ask questions. HBT is my substitute for that though.

This is just a rant to get this off my chest.

I see other people feel somewhat similar about the shipping costs.

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Old 03-28-2011, 05:36 PM   #10
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My closest LHBS is at least 45 minutes, and the somewhat better one is over an hour. I rarely order stuff online. In fact, I'm so stupid if I would like to brew on the weekend, I could order something on Wed. and have it delivered to my door for less than the gas money it would take to drive there and back. But I rarely do this. I enjoy going to the LHBS and looking around and BSing with the store people.

Let's assume your car gets 25 MPG. And your LHBS is 1 hour away. That's 2 hours round trip. At 60 MPH that's 120 Miles.

Divide 120 miles by 25 miles per gallon and get 4.8 gallons of gas. Multiply by the price of gas (let's say $3.50/gallon) and it would cost $16 just to drive to the store and back. When most places online have $7 and $8 dollars shipping, that's VERY good deal. Even higher rates than that can make it worth it in not just gas, but time savings as well.

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