What's it like to own/run a LHBS? - Home Brew Forums
Register Now For Free!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > What's it like to own/run a LHBS?

Thread Tools
Old 11-23-2009, 09:32 PM   #1
Jul 2009
Posts: 129


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.
BOTTLED: Wild Strawberry Blonde, Oatmeal Stout, Amber Ale
KEGGED: Nut Brown, Smoked Porter, Blue Moon Clone 1, Blue Moon Clone 2, Something Red Amber Clone
CONTEMPLATING: Flanders Red, English IPA, Sack Mead

The elusive Beer Baron continues to thumb his nose at the authorities. Swaggering about in a garish new hat, he seemed to say "Look at me, Rex Banner! I have a new hat!" - The Simpsons

Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2009, 01:04 AM   #2
May 2009
Edmond, OK, Oklahoma
Posts: 224
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

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.
"Offered a Bud Light, and a glass of water - I'd drink the water. You only have one liver, don't waste it on bad beer." - Brock Wagner

Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2009, 01:42 AM   #3
Apr 2009
Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 453
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts

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.

Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2009, 01:54 AM   #4
Dec 2008
North liberty Iowa
Posts: 207

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.

Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2009, 02:13 AM   #5
Apr 2009
Posts: 355
Liked 9 Times on 8 Posts

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!

Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2009, 07:02 PM   #6
Dec 2008
Posts: 509
Liked 47 Times on 42 Posts

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.

Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2009, 07:03 PM   #7
Half-fast Prattlarian
GilaMinumBeer's Avatar
Jan 2008
Posts: 60,092
Liked 8050 Times on 6505 Posts

Read all the HBS slander threads and you'll get a feel for the dark side.

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
lhbs polk121 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 1 07-14-2012 05:12 PM
Why Lhbs, Why?!? Brew_Weasel Drunken Ramblings and Mindless Mumbling 23 07-17-2009 12:06 AM
LHBS ups the $$$$ farmbrewernw Recipes/Ingredients 16 04-07-2008 03:54 PM
I've got a LHBS! CodeRage Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 1 10-06-2007 12:11 AM
What do you look for, want, in a LHBS? AHammer16 General Chit Chat 18 01-07-2006 02:54 PM

Forum Jump