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Old 11-23-2009, 08:32 PM   #1
WVBeerBaron
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Default What's it like to own/run a LHBS?

Hello,

LHB Shop Owners/Managers/Employees present or past (and anyone else with experience):

I was wondering what it's like to open/run a homebrew supply store. I can find very little info on opening a shop so I thought I'd ask on here. I often and wonder what it's like and how to get started. What are start up costs and operating cost for a small to medium sized store? Is it enjoyable or a hassle? What major considerations need to be made? If you wouldn't mind sharing, how did you get started? Is the market there or would I be barely feeding myself? Is the economy hurting you? What's it like to deal with wholesalers? What things did you never expect when you started? I'm not interested in becoming the next big online store, I just want to quit my crappy day job and do something I enjoy with the local community. Thanks for any insight.

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Old 11-24-2009, 12:04 AM   #2
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I have been watching this to see what their answers are as I am interested like you...

It must be a great business that they dont want you to be a part of, or it takes up a lot of their time bc I am a little shocked you havent got a response yet.

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Old 11-24-2009, 12:42 AM   #3
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Well, I don't own a store, but I got to talking to my LHBS owner today. He was saying that the biggest thing was to have multiple vendors for hops because sometimes one vendor will run out of it.

As someone who IS familiar with perishable goods, it can be tricky getting your buying down. However the ****ty economy has actually boosted a lot of home brew businesses because people want to save money by making their own homebrew. Least that's what the few LHBS in my area have said to me in passing.

Just my two cents. Sorry I'm not more help.

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Old 11-24-2009, 12:54 AM   #4
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I have thought alot about this myself and we really don't have anybody within an hour drive of us. College town with no homebrew shop. Huh.

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Old 11-24-2009, 01:13 AM   #5
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There is a LOT about starting ANY business that will apply to opening a LHBS... for example, your questions about effect of the economy, is there a market, etc... other people can't answer that for you. Detroit has one of the worst economies in the country, and there are LHBS's like mushrooms after a bad rain there... you would think there would be a hundred here in the Chicago area, but you can count the good ones in the northern half of the STATE on two hands. So the only one who can decide if there's a market where YOU are located is you... by doing market research, by paying a canvassing service money to provide you demographic feedback on your area, by seeing the amount of clubs, beverage festivals, and related events and how many local people they draw, etc etc.

Granted, the supply-side management of an LHBS will be different than other businesses, and that advice will be helpful... but deciding whether YOUR local economy can support one, and whether a market exists in YOUR area is your job. If you can ascertain or estimate that there are 1 or 200 local brewers who would support a LHBS close to them, then I'd say you have a market. If everyone around you has gotten used to ordering from the internet, then i'd say you may still have a market, but it may be a long time before you make any money.

Best of luck, I'm interested to see who chimes in!

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Old 11-24-2009, 06:02 PM   #6
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I don't own one, but I have worked one for 11 years in all facets of HBS life, and I can tell you it is really fun, but a headache at the same time. You will work long hours ordering products, packaging, retail displays, etc. But those long hours can be worth it when you become friends with your customers and get to help someone start brewing or improve their beer. That is a trip.

Wholesalers are fine, but you have to put up with them running out of stock or saying things will be to you by a certain date and then ... that day comes and goes. It's just a fact of life at that level.

You won't get rich off of it, but you will have a great time doing it.

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Old 11-24-2009, 06:03 PM   #7
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Read all the HBS slander threads and you'll get a feel for the dark side.

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