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Old 09-06-2011, 07:01 PM   #1
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Default LHBS Prices... Why So Expensive?

I know we are supposed to support our local Home Brewing Shop, but I am having a hard time justifying their prices! I just did a cost analysis comparing my local shop to, and I would be saving more than 40% if I shopped online (assuming I spend enough to get free shipping). What gives?! DME is 37% less, Hops are 58% less, yeast is 29% less... not to mention gas (its about a 50 mile round trip).

Is my LHBS just way overpriced? Anyone have any thoughts on buying online VS a LHBS?


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Old 09-06-2011, 07:15 PM   #2
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I do all of my shopping online. Is cheaper for me, even after shipping costs, to shop online. Last time I went to my LHBS, it took me nearly 2 hours round trip and their ingredients aren't as fresh as what I can get online. I would like to support local business but I don't have 2 hrs of free time to spend on the road when I have no other need to drive in that direction.

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Old 09-06-2011, 07:25 PM   #3
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Unless the lhbs is right down the street it seems that shipping costs are way cheaper than gas/wear and tear on your vehicle. I find it really difficult to support the local shops with all the online sources available.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:32 PM   #4
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The only time I shop LHBS is if if buying bottles. Then I will pick up ingredients while im there
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:36 PM   #5
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I have several LHBS, but only one that I will support. Some of them price gauge. The closest one to me only sells grains by the oz unless you buy a 55lb bag. 16lbs of a base grain at 20cents an oz gets very expensive! I refuse to buy from them since I can buy what I need for half the price a couple of extra miles away. If they want to over charge you, then screw them.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:36 PM   #6
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I buy some equipment (carboys, etc) from my LHBS. They're either the same price or lower than NB and I don't have to pay the extra shipping. As far as why yours is higher priced, I'm guessing it's because the online sites do more volume, and therefore get bigger discounts from their suppliers than the smaller LHBS. These savings allow them to keep their prices lower.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:39 PM   #7
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I try to support my LHBS whenever I can. I buy lots of things in bulk though.

-Grain - Bulk. At least my base malt. It's a little cheaper, but much more convenient.
-Hops - Bulk. It's 100-200% cheaper bought in bulk online!!!!
-Yeast - LHBS. I'm not saving much buying online, and I know the stuff at my LHBS has been kept cold
-Specialty grains - LHBS. I use so little, the cost doesn't matter
-Small equipment (airlocks, hop bags, etc, buckets) - LHBS. They're cheap.
-Large equipment - Online or DIY. LHBS have insane markups for equipment like mash tuns, false bottoms, pumps, wort chillers. Buy that stuff online, or DIY it.

I give my LHBS business because it's nice to have them when I need them in a pinch.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:41 PM   #8
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It's kind of the same as anything else. Do you buy books at or your local independent bookseller? Do you buy tools at the local hardware store, or do you buy them from Home Depot or Lowe's? The fact is that any retailer with a national presence can sell products cheaper than local mom-and-pop stores. They get better deals from suppliers and can price things cheaper because they move so much product. Online stores have the national presence and less overhead, so they can go even cheaper.

I do a ton of online shopping because it's cheap and convenient. I buy lots of stuff from national big box chain stores because it's cheaper, and I don't feel like being hassled by salesmen at smaller stores (ironic because many people hate big box stores because they don't get enough customer service ... I actually prefer them in many cases because they just leave you alone).

But there are certain hobbies I have where I support local retailers, because I like the service. Homebrewing is one of those. Having someone walk up to me on the floor of my LHBS and talk to me about brewing is more fun than some dude at an electronics store walking up to me to try to sell me a stereo. So even though it's a little out of my way, I go to my LHBS because I enjoy the experience (and yeah, it helps that my LHBS is also a major online retailer and their prices and selection are very satisfying). But it's not a religion for me. When I see a good deal online, I buy online.

At the end of the day, it's your money and you are allowed to spend it wherever you like. If you want to get the most for your dollar, do it. If you are willing to pay a little more for certain things because you like the experience, do it. But don't let anyone pressure you into thinking you're "supposed" to support your LHBS. If you're not satisfied with the prices and the service they offer, don't give them your money ... if others in your area do the same, then eventually they'll notice and hopefully improve.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:41 PM   #9
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My LHBS is an online retailer so largely get the best of both worlds. That said, northern brewer, Williams, and less and less Morebeer get some as well.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:45 PM   #10
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Our LBS is actually competitive on pricing for almost everything, and often cheaper if shipping is weighed in. Plus they have a great selection and service.

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