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Our local homebrew store is closing due to low customer traffic exacerbated by the quarantine. Now we will have to drive about 30 minutes more to the only other homebrew outlet in town.

On the brighter side, we spent a good bit with him today on equipment and ingredients. The prize purchase was a used grain mill, brand unknown at the moment, which he said retails for around $100. He sold it to us for $10!! The trip was worth it for that mill alone. Sad to see him close down, but life goes on.
 

matt_m

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Sounds like they must not have online ordering. My local one (45 minutes away to either of 2 locations) has their one location temporarily closed and the second on reduced hours because they are so busy with online orders. And my favorite which is 3-1/2 hours away but I'm near several times a year is open but their online order fulfillment is running 5-7 days because of how busy they are.
 
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Sounds like they must not have online ordering. My local one (45 minutes away to either of 2 locations) has their one location temporarily closed and the second on reduced hours because they are so busy with online orders. And my favorite which is 3-1/2 hours away but I'm near several times a year is open but their online order fulfillment is running 5-7 days because of how busy they are.
They didn't do online. It was all walk in traffic.
 

matt_m

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Before the Great Recession there was a lumberyard near me that was open M-F early morning til 5. That’s it. They didn’t want to deal with homeowners. The location is a feed and garden store now.
 

day_trippr

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Many of the brick 'n' mortar lhbs's in my area are too small to support an on-line presence. Of the three lhbs's I frequent now, only one has the space to deal with mail order.

I'm still scratching my head wrt how sharply the home brew scene has fallen from what I perceive as its peak around 2010...

Cheers!
 

matt_m

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I would hope a lesson learned from the pandemic for retailers is that no one is too small for online ordering and at least curbside pickup. We dropped our daughter off at college in Indy, went 1/4 mile out of the way on the way out of town and picked up about 150lb of grain and yeast I pre-ordered online in about 5 minutes at Great Fermentations. Virtually the same experience as Kroger, Lowes, and Home Depot.
 

seatazzz

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The two nearest me are both 30+ minutes away, in opposite directions. The one I go to most often requires driving over a mountain pass that gets squirrely in winter, but she's got the best prices; unfortunately she's been dealing with some family issues and has been having some weird hours. The other one is run by a guy who used to work at the biggest LHBS we had around here but closed 3 years ago due to financial issues, and he's the one who really helped get me started. Both of them have instituted a pre-order via phone or email with store pickup, but no browsing the shelves. That's what really bites about this whole mess; I used to go in with a list in hand, and always walked out with more than I intended after looking around for a while. That, and the social aspect of talking to someone who is super passionate about brewing. Now it's pay, grab my stuff, and go. I keep hoping someone will open an LHBS closer to my town.
 

Yooper

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Bet I got ya beat. Actually bet I’ve got you all beat in the lower 48 for distance to a homebrew store. Any homebrew store.
You probably do! I thought I have it bad because mine is only 150 miles away. But he's the only one that is even that close to me. Luckily, he has reasonably priced shipping so I order quite a bit and only pick up full sacks when I need them.
 

Jtvann

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You probably do! I thought I have it bad because mine is only 150 miles away. But he's the only one that is even that close to me. Luckily, he has reasonably priced shipping so I order quite a bit and only pick up full sacks when I need them.
I’ve got 3 “near” me.
Salt City Brew Supply at 226
The Beer Nut at 235
And brewchatter at 384

I’m in that area smack dab between Vegas, Reno and Salt Lake City.

Morebeer has always been my go to with only 2 day shipping before Covid.
 

bwible

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I used to own a homebrew store from 2000 to 2004. I barely lasted 4 years. I did mail order. You don’t have to be big to do mail order but you won’t be able to compete on prices with places like MoreBeer if you’re not. Retail is a numbers game. If you buy 10 of an item from your wholesaler you get one price. If you buy 100 you get a better price, if you buy 1,000 you get an even better price and if you buy 10,000 the price gets way better again. This is why big guys with resources can sell things for the price little guys are buying them for.

I had competition from other brick and mortar shops and people would also always beat you up with MoreBeer catalogs. People would come in and talk to you for an hour and ask you all kinds of questions and have you explain everything to them and then they would run home and buy stuff online because it was $1 cheaper.

I never made enough money to even pay myself let alone hire anyone. It was a constant struggle from day 1. Looking back, I felt like it was an opportunity I would have beat myself up over for years if I had not at least tried it. Knowing what I know now, I would NEVER try it again.

Pizza shops do well because everybody eats pizza. Not everybody homebrews, its a much smaller percentage of the population. You don’t get many customers and you have to fight for the ones you do.

Everybody wants a local homebrew shop, but not everybody who does supports their local homebrew shop. The local clubs would get together and do bulk grain purchases by the pallet elsewhere.

Delivery and trucking costs went way up on me back then when W Bush was president and gas was $5 a gallon.

I can only imagine Covid is hurting small stores badly as people are not out.

These are the things affecting your local stores and not all of them are obvious.

I still brew. My nearest store is about an hour away and that’s a small store that doesn’t have much. My preferred store is a 2 hour drive each way. I get almost 100% of my brewing supplies by mail order now.
 
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kevin58

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Our local store, in Michigan no less, never did shut down. They do online ordering but also set up a very nifty curbside delivery system. On top of that even in the worst of the shut down they allowed a set number of customers in the store at a time or one-on-one inside service by appointment.
 

bobeer

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A new mill is a great upgrade. I love being able to crush my own grain and brew whenever I want to. Had mine for years and it never gets old.

A lhbs is closing down here too and there's only 1 other one around. I can usually score sacks of grain on the cheap through the club buys but covid put a stop to that. I just ordered from morebeer because they're much cheaper than the 1 store in town.
 

bwarbiany

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Our local homebrew store is closing due to low customer traffic exacerbated by the quarantine.
I'm a little surprised. On one of my LHBS trips a couple months ago I asked about traffic and they said they were actually busier than normal because people were home and had more time to brew & drink.

It's one of those businesses (like golf courses) that you'd think would actually benefit from COVID.
 
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My LHBS is close but doesn't carry everything, it's maybe 1,000 sq.ft. I buy what I can from him, and mail order the rest or buy used from other homebrewers.

Am I paying a premium for some of the products for my beers? Yes. But it is a tremendous privilege that if all I want is lightweight stuff, I can put on my backpack and walk to his store, talk beer with him, learn something I didn't know, maybe sample some of his home-brew in the back, and wander my [email protected]$$ home.
 
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