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Old 12-02-2009, 05:35 PM   #1
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Default Possible new vendor would love some input

Hey guys,

At the moment I am a college student and I am very interested in starting my own business right out of school. I still consider myself a novice homebrewer even though in the last few months I have spent every empty second in my schedule learning about the art of brewing beer. While I delved into this hobby I quickly found out that there is no LHBS. The closest thing in the area is a self described "gourmet food and wine store" that has a very limited selection of homebrew supplies. On top of this void I am located in a city that is ranked as one of the best places in the US to start a small business; a college town with a student population of over 30,000 in constant turnover.

Also, there is only one brewpub in the area. I am not ruling this out as a possibility but I feel as though more knowledge and capital is necessary to get into a business of this magnitude.

As an engineering student I have lots of experience with web design and supply chain theory. I have the skills and the love for the hobby. What I plan on developing over the next year is the knowledge and money to make this opportunity a reality.

My questions for you guys are numerous. And I can understand some vendors might be hesitant to divulge too much information as it might take away from their own business. Any and all input is appreciated.

1) How did you get started? Did you use all of your own capital? Did you go in with partners? Did you borrow from investors?

2) Did you start with a storefront, website or both? What are the biggest challenges you faced in the first year(s)?

3) How long did you learn about homebrewing before you went pro? During this time period was homebrewing a casual hobby or were you studying in anticipation of starting a business?

I'm sure many more questions are to come. That's just to get started. Like all of you I am not looking to get into this business to become a millionaire. I LOVE BREWING! And I see a unique opportunity as I am in a good situation and do not have too many ties (being young, unmarried, no children, etc.) that can hold be back from my goals. Please be honest and thanks for your help!

Nathan Farmer

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Old 12-02-2009, 05:41 PM   #2
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Student town? No decent LHBS? Sounds like it may be fertile ground for a new LHBS venture.

I'll let people that actually know stuff give some proper input.

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Old 12-02-2009, 05:44 PM   #3
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just from an Arizona perspective...

30,000 isn't a big enough town to support a LHBS, unless you make it big on the web.

a place in Flagstaff (~55,000 people) is only making it because of their web orders - and their business has, or likely will, go down a little because Vegas finally got a LHBS.

Phoenix (well over 2 million people) only had 3 LHBS - and now they're down to just 2.

good luck though. Live the dream and go for it! There's been a bunch of threads on here were people have done market research...I'll see if I can track some down.

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Old 12-02-2009, 05:50 PM   #4
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I'll let people that actually know stuff give some proper input.
If that's the standard we're using, I'll keep quiet too . . .

Except to say that I think your first choice of being a web-only or storefront is a pretty important decision, leading in very different directions.

Which do you prefer - high volume driven working with a computer and a warehouse or a personal experience offering classes and a more interactive business?
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:51 PM   #5
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"I am looking for one of those beers that isn't too sweet or too bitter. You know, like a Chimay Red. But, I don't like dark beers like that and, I want it stronger. Do you have that?"

"Sh!t. You NEVER carry Moravian CaraRed de-husked pilsner. what the fvck is wrong with this place."

Can you handle that everyday?

The rest is easy so long as you can afford the stock and can keep the lights on til' people know you exist.

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Old 12-02-2009, 05:53 PM   #6
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Did you try reading DFH's Sam Calagione's Brewing Up A Business and Beer School by Steve Hindy/Tom Potter from Brooklyn Brewery? Neither of them are about starting a LHBS but they are about starting breweries, and you share similar clients. Also both books talk somewhat about general entrepreneurship and finding capital.

Personally I know nothing about starting any business, but good luck.

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Old 12-02-2009, 06:07 PM   #7
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The town has 30,000 residents and 30,000 students and has been all but immuned to the recent recession, but I see where you're coming from. This is a DRINKING town (Princeton Review's #1 party school many times over) but it's 95% BMC drinkers. I want to start a web based business anyways. In this case would it just be the best idea to just pick a place with low taxes and move there?

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Did you try reading DFH's Sam Calagione's Brewing Up A Business and Beer School by Steve Hindy/Tom Potter from Brooklyn Brewery? Neither of them are about starting a LHBS but they are about starting breweries, and you share similar clients. Also both books talk somewhat about general entrepreneurship and finding capital.

Personally I know nothing about starting any business, but good luck.
A brewery would be my ideal situation but I'm starting from 0. This book sounds like a great resource.
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Old 12-02-2009, 06:09 PM   #8
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ahhh brother don't tempt me to move back to motown and partner up with you lol


What I honestly think you would be best doing is starting up a microbrewery. I know there is one already, but if it's anything like it was '02 - '06 its kinda lame and a little bit expensive.

I have always thought if I started a micro I would create a "cheap-ass beer" Something with that homebrew real-beer taste but for natty-lite or nickel-pitcher Wednesday prices.


on a completely off topic side note.....what a f'ing game last week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 12-02-2009, 06:30 PM   #9
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ahhh brother don't tempt me to move back to motown and partner up with you lol


What I honestly think you would be best doing is starting up a microbrewery. I know there is one already, but if it's anything like it was '02 - '06 its kinda lame and a little bit expensive.

I have always thought if I started a micro I would create a "cheap-ass beer" Something with that homebrew real-beer taste but for natty-lite or nickel-pitcher Wednesday prices.


on a completely off topic side note.....what a f'ing game last week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hahah Let's Go Mountaineers!!! Payback is so sweet.

The Micro closed for about a year and opened back up a month ago. I've been there 3 times and it seems like they've gotten their act together possibly with new ownership. 3 house brews on tap (an IPA, Brown Ale and Amber Ale @ $4/20oz) and an above average number of commercials on tap (for Morgantown). But yes, much to the avail of many HBTers I would be offering a Light Lager because in this town cheap beer is how you drum up business.
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Old 12-02-2009, 07:05 PM   #10
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doesnt even need to be a light lager.........There are 40 pints in a 5 gallon batch of brew. Figure that brew ends up costing you anywhere from 35 - 50 cents a pint if brewing mini mash or all-grain depending on what you are brewing and scale you are brewing. You could very well charge under $3.00 a pint and make a pretty decent profit.

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