LHBS Pet Peeves

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JKoravos

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I don't have much to complain about. I have two LHBS within 15-20 minutes drive, which is nice, and very coincidental. I don't ask the owners for advice, I'm not an advice asking type of person. They both generally have the basic stuff I need and having been willing to order stuff they don't stock. Prices aren't great, but they're way better than what some other people here are paying.
 

Jersh

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I have two LHBSs that I frequent... One is only about 3 miles from home, and my biggest peeve with them is that they're closed on Sundays. My other pet peeve is that the owner can be somewhat condesending, I find that when I ask him questions he gives purposefully complicated answers just to make himself sound smart. The other shop is farther away, it's about 40 miles but it is phenomenal so I go there as much or more than the one that is three miles away. I do not have any major complaints other than their hop prices seem to be a little high.
 
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PintOfBitter

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Any retail operator with any sort of "sales" ability will (and smartly so) always try and persuade his/her customers into purchasing items "off the floor". That's just smart business. The smaller the business, the less likely they're going to have a huge selection, and the more likely the redirection. If they're willing to do special orders for customers that's a nice thing, but it doesn't do alot for a business's bottom line, especially a small business (unless it gets you to buy more off the shelf products and increases your return frequency to the store).
I don't agree that this is good business. IMO, the right way to do business is let the customer make their own decisions. A shopowner has the responsibility to keep on top of what is in demand and what is not. The right way to get rid of aging or stagnating stock is sell it at a discount or offer some other purchase incentive, not shuttle it off on some uninformed shopper.
 

RunBikeBrew

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There are two shops in the Hartford, CT area. The one in East Hartford (Brew-Wine Hobby) is great. The guy is really nice and is as helpful as you'd like him to be. In general, they've always had what I needed and things are fresh (e.g. liquid yeasts). And they're open on Sundays. Prices are higher than online, but not unreasonable.

There's another one in Hartford, but I've never been pleased. Last time I went to buy some grain, they told me they couldn't help me unless I had previously emailed my ingredient list. I also heard them tell a guy that an all grain batch takes 8 hours to brew (?!?).
 

Cheaton

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I don't agree that this is good business. IMO, the right way to do business is let the customer make their own decisions. A shopowner has the responsibility to keep on top of what is in demand and what is not. The right way to get rid of aging or stagnating stock is sell it at a discount or offer some other purchase incentive, not shuttle it off on some uninformed shopper.
I never said anything about aging or stagnating stock. I said sell what is "on the shelf". I also said nothing about not letting the customer make their own decisions. I just said a smart business owner does their best to sell what they have, not sell what they don't have. If you want notty yeast, and I only carry Safale, I'm going to tell you my Safale-05 will work for your situation. If you want a 6 gallon glass carboy and I instead have 6 gallon better bottles I'm goign to explain to you the features and advantages of the better bottle in hopes you'll purchase one. If you decide that this really isn't what you want there's nothing I would be able to do about it. The choice is still the customers. For most people in the retail business a "special order" is a last resort, unless it is a big ticket item. One of the best ways to avoid aging or stagnating stock is to sell what you have on the shelf to begin with!

While you can say (and I agree!) that this may not be the most "customer friendly" way to do business, this is indeed "good business". The fewer products you can get away with stocking the more likely you are to sell everything you buy. While this may inconvenience a few people you're going to have the majority covered. To me the most important thing I look for in a small retail establishment are friendly people who know what they're doing. That means more to me than variety and price because I accept the reality that a small business has to cater to the majority. If I need specialty items I look online.
 

johnnyc

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I've got 2 stores in driving distance and of course the closer one is more expensive :(. Since I buy my base grain and hops in bulk on group buys I don't mind spending a little more on specialty grains and yeast. By that I mean $2.37/lb for Crystal malt.

I actually turned the store owner onto BIAB and he's excited to see how well it works. He's mostly a wine guy and has only done extract brews. Really nice people but a little uneducated in brewing.
 
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PintOfBitter

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cheaton, I understand where you're coming from. It most certainly makes sense to point out reasonable substitutions in stock, but the attitude is what matters. I may not want your better bottle. If not, I don't expect to be treated like an unreasonable person. customer loyalty is really important in a HB shop.
 

Smogre

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We're blessed with having a few different shops to pick from and even more if I want to drive far. Which I won't.

My old store was great! The gang there would help with recipes. They've moved on to other things and I've moved locations.

The new shop is just down the street from me. Great shop. I think some of their prices are pretty good and the selection really great. My only big issue and it's big, is their uppity attitude.

I thought we were here to make and drink beer. What's with the attitude? F'in know it alls!
 

EuBrew

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I have 2 stores about 15 minutes from my house. One I purchase all my yeast from (white labs) since I always do starters and don't want to risk dead yeast in shipping it's worth paying a couple extra bucks for. They also have a nice craft beer selection and the best take n bake pizza in town under the same roof (not to mention the hot red head piling on the toppings :D) They are friendly enough, but I wouldn't say they are too informative or experienced. I just get all my questions answered here before I go. The other shop probably has a little better selection, but the owner is a............ well lets just say she is very condecending. Bad attitude plus ridiculous pricing equals no business from me, ever again, I'll delay a brew day to wait for product from Ed at Brewmasters before I'll support that witch or either of her husbands 2 brew pubs which makes me a little sad, but service there isn't much better either.
 

Tech211

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2 dick head brothers



B&G in the city blows also
So what is wrong with Two Brothers? I like the beer, but have never gone to the Brewer's Coop. B&G is my local, and it isn't great. However, they will sell a sack of 2-row for $40. That's cheaper than getting it shipped across town from Mid-Country. Just don't go to B&G with any questions or for equipment and you're fine. Chicagoland Winemakers and Bev-Art are both ok, I guess, but they have low selection and what I'm guessing is older stock.
 

Catch-22

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I absolutely love my LHBS. Beer Nut in Salt Lake City. Jamie and the gang are awesome. They treat me like I'm spending thousands as I pay for a one pound of DME. Knowledgable, Courteous and Friendly. Prices are a little higher than internet but that is the standard in all retail. Fast rotation of stock. Really no complaints.
 

Silenti

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Don't forget the overhead cost is much higher in a retail situation. Rent alone in certain areas can be astronomical, and don't expect employees to work for free. I used to work in a kitchen gadget retail store and would constantly have people try to waste my time asking tons of questions only to go elsewhere (online or walmart) for the actual goods. You're also paying for my time/expertise. I took great pride in my product knowledge and customer service skills. Always patient with the 'noobs' and never tried to act like I knew more than I did to the experienced customers. It was my job to guide and inform customers, not tell them what to do. Remember, the people who frequent a niche forum are the people most personally driven and curious about a subject. As a customer, that demographic is really just looking for the supplies they want and are usually price-driven. If a retail store tried to focus us as its primary customers, it would quickly go out of business, because mail-order will always win out.

Just look at how many people on here only shop their LHBS when they need something quick (and many of the exceptions have a online retailer like NB or Austin HB as their local). Unless you serve a large market, you'll never have the turn over on the specialty items which would draw the forum type crowd to make it worth keeping, especially perishables like specialty yeast, grains or hops.

Remember, in a small business retail setting, a 100% markup over your wholesale costs isn't unreasonable unless you have high volume sales. And online prices are essentially what the LHBS owner is paying.

Uh. well this sorta went all rambling on, but essentially... don't balk at prices 50-100% higher than online (especially on small dollar amounts like oz of hops, or lb of grain) thats probably what the owner needs to charge to survive. But absolutely don't tolerate terrible customer service, those folks deserve to fail in a customer service industry.

And I shop mainly online, closest HB stores are ~1 hour drive, but I always point people their way first when interested in homebrewing rather than to an online retailer. Same goes for kitchen goods or fish/aquarium stuff (my other $$$$$ hobby).
 

smalltown2001

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I would say the only pet peeve I have with the three LHBS's I have locally are the prices, but I am always willing to pay a little more for ingredients to get the kind of customer service that is provided to their patrons. One LHBS hands me a small glass of Robust Porter on Saturdays while I am waiting when they mill my grain, this shop and another shop provide a wealth of information and are always willing to answer any questions I have, they are always happy to taste test my brews and help me see what might be off with it. Another shop just opened up closer to my house and they are open later on weekdays and on weekends which is nice for when I need an ingredient ASAP since I am brewing within a few hours. I feel very fortunate to have good shops to buy ingredients at, and feel any pet peeves that they could have are always counterbalanced by the customer service that helps you improve on your brewing skills.
 

SisterThelonious

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I LOVE MY LHBS! Located in beautiful Redding, CA...it is only 30 minutes away for me. Jay and his staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and always enthusiastic about beer. They love to talk about beer and help write recipes, if needed. And the prices are great...Jay's prices on bulk grain and stainless steel pots are the cheapest I have found. I feel so fortunate to have such a great resource in close vicinity to where I work and live. Although Jay will ship anywhere...Go Redding Homebrew Store!
(530)243-BEER
 

woodenbuick

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Interesting thread here.... I shop at and support AHS. For one thing it is only 10 minutes from home and they are great people to deal with.
Went to San Antonio this weekend and when I got done playing, I remembered I needed some hops that I had forgotten to get. Looked in the phone book and there was a home brew store there. Checked my GPS and it was only a mile or two away so I thought I would check it out.
OMG, never again... Open sacks of grain on the floor, dirty bottles on the shelf etc.etc.etc. If he wouldn't of gotten the hops from the freezer, I wouldn't have bought those.
Not at all like AHS which is crowded but clean and well organized. I will stick with them, thanks much.
 

WIP

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I hate that I went to my LHBS for the first time, to buy all my starter kit and my first batch of beer, and the helpful man upsold everything and snuck in some higher priced things that I didn't know I didn't need. Example, $2 for 3/4 cup DME instead of $.75 worth of Dextrose for priming. I know this stuff isn't a big deal, but I don't like being taken advantage of in any ammount. Now I know enough to get an exact list together before I go.
 

Richabt

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My LHBS is the Homebrew Den in Tallahassee. No complaints, good service, decent prices and selection. Hops run about 3.25 an oz. I usually buy my main hops via hops direct, and don't mind paying more for an oz here and there.
 

WIP

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I guess I am lucky. My LHBS has hops at $2.50 oz and grains/malts for $1.25 lbs and LME for $1.50 lbs. Although he sold me a strainer for $15 (didn't know until later) and I later found the same thing BUT BIGGER at The Dollar Store.
 

sp1365

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Also just found out that my LHBS is not open on Sundays. Not very pleased with them.
 

MrInternet

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Also just found out that my LHBS is not open on Sundays. Not very pleased with them.
If you're talking about Winemakers, go to Aurora to Fox Valley Home Brew in downtown Aurora... it's out of the way, but it is a super clean store and the owners are really helpful... insisted on individually measuring and re-packaging my grist ingredients last time I was in there... :)
 

sp1365

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If you're talking about Winemakers, go to Aurora to Fox Valley Home Brew in downtown Aurora... it's out of the way, but it is a super clean store and the owners are really helpful... insisted on individually measuring and re-packaging my grist ingredients last time I was in there... :)
Actually I am talking about a homebrew shop in Dayton, OH. I live in IL, but go to school in OH. Granted I havn't had much luck for stores in IL either. Closest store to me is Brew and Grow in Roselle.
 

RGH

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AHS is a pretty amazing place to shop online imo
Yeah, but they wont ship to APO's:(. No worry, I will gladly spend my money at midwest. Not only will they ship to My post in Germany, they also offer a Military discount. My old LHBS was great when I was stationed close to Nashville. They were called "allseasons" Nashville. They had a pretty good selection but it was a bit on the steep side. I think I paid 3 bucks for an ounce of cascades which does seem a bit much. They also sold hydroponics equipment which worked out good for my tomato garden:rockin:. They also had aphids for the "organic" folk. sorry:off:
 

Synovia

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I just said a smart business owner does their best to sell what they have, not sell what they don't have.
A smart business owner sells the customer what they want, whether or not they have it.

If I go into a HBS, and I want UK Chocolate malt, and the guy tells me I can use US, I'll buy it, and use it, and he makes a sale. But next time a recipe calls for it, I go elsewhere, or I order it online. If he says he can get some for me? I buy the US, and order the UK from him.

Customers have choices now. Old business practices don't work.
 

inspector13

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Advantage: My LHBS is Austin Homebrew Supply.

Disadvantage: My LHBS is Austin Homebrew Supply. $$$

Advantage: I am in the area weekly.

Disadvantage: My wife knows I in the area weekly.
 

khiddy

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Well, I am pretty blessed to have three or four shops within a 20 minute drive, including a brand-new one (Homebrew Exchange) just five minutes away. The crazy thing is that all of the shops in Portland get their base supplies from the oldest one, Steinbart's. Steinbart's has a reputation of being a place that caters mainly to the other shops and professional brewers rather than homebrewers, but they are actually very supportive of the homebrewing community and very generous with their knowledge if you take time to build a relationship. Unfortunately, their grain prices are a bit high, but a dime or two per pound really won't destroy a recipe, I guess.

I'm pretty excited by some of the other, newer shops in the PDX area, especially BrewBrothers.biz's marvelous grain prices and Homebrew Exchange's handy location. Now if only I could get some more specialty grains at HBX...
 

FreakinA

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You have got to be joking! $3-5 per pound is ridiculously overpriced. They would not see a dime of my money ever. Prices a little over online pricing is not unusual for a LHBS, but price gouging is another matter. I would also tell them right to their face why I won't be coming back. That is plain bad business. What's the markup like on their hops and equipment? Is it just as high?
Prices for my LHBS(which I frequent frequently![Brewers Connection In Tempe])
Grain: about 1.50 a pound for milled stuff. Some of the specialty things are closer to 2.00
hops: 2-4.50 an Oz depending on what you want
Yeast: US-05 (and similar)= 4.00 Wyeast are like 7.19?

I always thought that was decent, my biggest LHBS pet peeve is sometimes I have to wait when I go at crowded times. Also as an SCM student, the store is arranged terribly. The sections are NOT divided by profitability and target at your eye level like anything should be. They need a planogrammer, and fast.
 

670x

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Our LHBS is only open when they feel like it. I have been there numerous times only to find the door locked during posted hours while the Open sign is on.
I now drive 45 miles to Ft. Collins, their prices are higher but they are OPEN during the hours posted.
I just wish they were not so rude there. They act like they are doing you a favor to get out of your way so you can grab something off a shelf.
I think I will start purchasing online in bulk I can get my brewing advice here on this site, so far it's been my best source of information
 

Austinhomebrew

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Yeah, but AHS wont ship to APO's:(.
Austin Homebrew will gladly ship to anyone you know in the states for $7.99 and they can forward it to you. USPS will not allow glass or liquids and many addresses will not allow beer ingredients into the country.

I really don't want to have to lie repeatedly to the post office. We already got busted at one location.

Forrest
 

wizardofza

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I am soooo thankful to have Niagara Tradition as my LHBS. They are four minutes down the street from me and have almost everything I could need.
They're ok. They're frequently out of at least one item in my recipe. It would also be nice if they kept their website up to date. At least that would save me a trip when they are out of something I need.
 
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If you're talking about Winemakers, go to Aurora to Fox Valley Home Brew in downtown Aurora... it's out of the way, but it is a super clean store and the owners are really helpful... insisted on individually measuring and re-packaging my grist ingredients last time I was in there... :)
I didn't even know there was a HBS in Aurora; I'll have to hit it up this weekend. I'm in Bolingbrook and was going to Two Brothers when I first started brewing. Like others, I found it kinda sucks - they have weird hours, not much of a grain selection, and I was always having to substitute things. The staff gave always gave off the attitude of "you're bothering me" (seems like since the brewery is attached they just send whoever is available up to deal with you.) Been a few years since I've been there though; maybe it's improved. Presently I use Northern Brewer, Midwest Supplies, and Morebeer for everything; just plan your brew session a week or so in advance. Two Brothers does make some fine beer though.
 

chefmike

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It is unfortunate: my LHBS store is now Brew Master's Warehouse. :fro:

I have used the HBS in Asheville NC. He puts together decent kits which I used for a couple years. This time I was just picking up specialty grains for 5 recipes and some hops I did not have (I buy a lot in bulk now). The prices were decent and he had 99% of what I needed. He does not list everything he has online (Simcoe hops on this trip) but told me he maintains a stash for his local customers. That is the asheville way!

And when I lived in Memphis, I visited a homebrew store that got me back into brewing. No clue about prices (it was back a few years ago when stuff was cheap. But the service was AMAZING!
 

HomerJR

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My LHBS (Kennywood Brewing Supplies) is about a 40 minute drive from the house, and is only open 3 evenings a week, plus Saturday. But that's okay, because he's a great guy with reasonable prices. $2.25/oz for hops, $1.30/lb for 2-row and $2.25/lb for specialty grains. No milling charges, either. He's never acted like a know-it-all, and he's working with a local brewpub to provide space for a homebrew club to start.

On the other hand, there's a wine-heavy store (few extract kits and some minor equipment) about 25 minutes from me, but the guy's a condescending butt. I was in there once just to see what he had, and in the course of a couple phone calls that I overheard, he bad-mouthed my preferred LHBS and another one about an hour away. My wife wants to start making wine, but I'll be damned if I'm buying anything from him. Kennywood either has or can order any wine stuff I need.

A good attitude goes a long way, don't it?
 

OMJ

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My biggest pet peeve about my LHBS is that it is only open 2 days a week from 10-5. There is another one that is about 40 minutes away with much better hours though.

My other pet peeve is the out dated advice I sometimes hear being given to customers. There is an older guy working there that hasnt brewed beer since the early 90's and only makes wine now. I often hear him telling people only to use stainless or enamel pots and not to use aluminum. I cant think of anything else I have heard him tell people but I have heard him say other things that just arent true to newbies.
 

tdiowa

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I am very fortunate to know the Homebrew Supplier's by name. He lives 90 miles away and has some shelf space at a local pharmacy. I email him on Monday and he gathers the requested supplies puts them in a box and when he make his weekly stop puts the box aside for me to pick it up on my way home. Never been disappointed and the prices are reasonable.

After reading some of the horror stories you people go thru I guess I am very fortunate.

One last note. I was in Kansas City last January and went to a local homebrew store. I was absolutely floored when I saw that they were charging $18.00 for 3 pounds of Dry Malt Extract.

TD
 

ibbones

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I have nothing closer then 100+ miles to my house but I can go in three different directions and get to a big city. Austin is still my fav.
 

JVD_X

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My LHBS is about 30 minutes away by highway - an hour round-trip along one of the busiest roads in the country. When I get they are usually busy and I tried to support him. However, by the time I get there, do my shopping (having to wait for him to grab the yeast, hops, and grains) and get back -it's a two hour trip. I simply do not have the time.

In addition, he costs more and it takes about two gallons of gas for me to get there and back. So... gas @ $3/gallon plus two hours of my time to pay a premium prices at the LHBS simply doesn't cut it when Austin will ship everything to my door for $7.99

Also, when I asked him to assemble me all the equipment for a four-keg system so it would be ready for me to pick up when I got there he simply said "I don't have the time for that." SO... guess what. No more business unless it's an emergency.
 

smizak

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They're ok. They're frequently out of at least one item in my recipe. It would also be nice if they kept their website up to date. At least that would save me a trip when they are out of something I need.
Just call. They would have no problem making sure they have what you need. If you do it a couple days in advance, they would probably get what you need in. They are super cool like that.
 
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