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Old 04-25-2008, 09:10 PM   #1
HOOTER's Avatar
Mar 2008
Spokane, WA
Posts: 1,653
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I really appreciate my LHBS and the people that work there. They have fair prices (but not great), great stock, and a ton of knowledge that's been extremely helpful for me. That being said, I'm considering purchasing some ingredients from Northern Brewer and I'm feeling a bit guilty about it. It just seems like Northern Brewer has an amazingly diverse inventory that would be hard to match by any LHBS, which comes in handy when trying to make a brew that required specific, and hard to find, ingredients. Are the on-line shoppers here only shopping on-line because of the lack of a LHBS, or are some of you opting to avoid your LHBS and buy on-line instead, and why?
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Old 04-25-2008, 10:20 PM   #2
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Oct 2007
Montreal, Canada
Posts: 573
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These threads come up often, so I will tell you what I have gathered from them (this is not my personal case, but a lot of people have this opinion): Do what you think is best for your wallet. The whole "I love my LHBS but they don't carry all the stuff I would like" is a GREAT reason to buy online. If Northern Brewer, Austin Homebrew, etc. can get all that specialty malt, your LHBS can too. If they choose not to carry it, it's their problem. You could recommend to your LHBS owner to carry the specialty malt, it may just be that: 1) he's lazy and doesn't want to expand his selection, 2) he simply doesn't know that there's a local demand for it (stuff like pale chocolate, etc.)
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:32 PM   #3
A4J's Avatar
Mar 2008
the Desert, CA
Posts: 1,348
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I'm a firm believer in supporting the local mom-and-pop operations, including LHBSes, but in this case, my LHBS is 2 hours away, so I do most of my shopping online. I don't support local businesses for the sake of supporting local businesses. I'm not gonna support a local business if they have lousy customer service, but they can always do special orders.

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Old 04-26-2008, 01:10 AM   #4
Nov 2007
It's Always Sunny
Posts: 465
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Your LHBS may not carry some grains because they do not sell quickly and may go stale. They may have carried it in the past and it was a bust. It never hurts to ask if they can special order something for you. The guys at my shop have been extremely accomodating, have a wealth of info, and have helped troubleshoot bad beers with me. Throw in some special events and it's extremely hard for an on-line supplier to top that I feel. There definately are benefits to online purchases, and if I NEEDED something that I couldn't get locally, would order at the drop of a hat.

I have to agree with you about the guilt though. I picked out a couple of kits online for Christmas without yeast for fear of improper handling by the gift giver. I definately felt like a cheating husband when I picked up some yeast from my LHBS.

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Old 04-26-2008, 01:22 AM   #5
May 2007
Cary, NC
Posts: 2,176
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My LHBS (American Brewmaster) is a good shop, as most everyone from the Raleigh, NC area will attest. I'm starting to use them more and the online suppliers less.

I do have to drive all the way to the other side of town to get there, though. Its not near anywhere else I would happen to be going so I have to make a special trip. Sometimes I do this on my lunch hour at work; its a good way to get away from the office for a while.

I try to buy in bulk and keep a decent inventory of different ingredients at home so I don't have to make many trips. I place my order through the website and specify "in store pickup." If there is any problem with the order they email me and we work it out so there are no surprises when I get there.

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Old 04-26-2008, 01:23 AM   #6
Mar 2008
Posts: 99

I usually buy online for the same reason - selection. I know of one here in ABQ, but I think he caters mostly to wine. He has an OK selection, but not the best. Once upon a time there were two LHBS in town, but sadly the one I used to shop has closed. I use a variety of locations, but Austin Homebrew has been the best for the flat rate shipping.

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Old 04-26-2008, 02:03 AM   #7
Jan 2008
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I'm not a firm believer in supporting any type of business. Businesses exist to make money from consumers, consumers want the best prices/selection/customer service/whatever. Therefore consumers should purchase their goods from places that provide what they're looking for and if a business can't provide that, then tough.

I understand the mentality behind wanting to support the mom & pops (I don't really like the idea of helping giant conglomerates) but it's my money and I'd like to keep as much of it as I can.

Any business that survives because of "consumer guilt" is really more of a charity than a business....in which case their are probably several charities where your $$ could make more of a difference

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Old 04-26-2008, 02:34 AM   #8
Professor Frink
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Sep 2006
San Diego, CA
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Like Beerthoven said, the LHBS here is great - the service, selection, everything. It's a long trip though, so now that I have the grain mill I try to buy in bulk.
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Old 04-26-2008, 02:54 AM   #9
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Apr 2008
Auburn, GA
Posts: 888
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I definitely prefer to use my LHBS because they are friendly, knowlegable and best of all, 3 minutes from my job! I hate paying shipping and I hate to wait if it is available locally. That said, I have ordered stuff that LBHS doesn't carry from Northern Brewer.
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Old 04-26-2008, 03:03 AM   #10
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Jan 2007
Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba
Posts: 4,217
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I buy faithfully from my HBS because if I don't he may go out of business. It's worth it to me to pay the extra money and not look for shortcuts or I might find myself ordering everything online. Here in Canada that means importing from the states at twice the price.

I did start searching for a supplier of bulk grains that I could grind myself but I found myself in that old dillema about supporting my guy. I had already decided that I would simply continue to buy from him to ensure my continued supply when I found out that HE is a bulk supplier. Two birds with one stone. Still don't have my grinder, but at least I can comfortably buy one now.

So to sum it up, if you have a local guy and he's important to you, support him as much as you possibly can. Lots of guys here don't have a HBS they can drive to and they wish they did.
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