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What does a brew store need to be great?

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Ust311

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I started a thread called brew store but felt the title should have need more detailed....

All feed back is welcome. What are good and bad things about your LHBS? I'm starting a new job at my LHBS on Monday and we want to create an awesome experience for the customer.
 

huntingohio

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Make a recipie book, including all grain and extract.

Learn your styles of beer.

Dont always push top tier equipment on people, especailly beginers.

If someones trying to brew on the cheap, make real suggestions for example "if your trying to save money, you can use bleach instead of starsan, just rinse very very well to avoid off tastes. Or if they are interested in all grain expose them to biab, ect. It might affect bottom line with them not buying gear, but youll have a loyal customer, and a businees without atleast an 80% repeat loyal customer base is going to struggle.

Most of all BREW LIKE MAD. Get a couple one gallon gear kits and small batch brew, they experences even scaled down are directly relatable to larger brews, and taste the same. It wil allow you to brew more often, giving you more experence. A person who knows there products and what they can do is the best thing at a brew shop.
 

chefmike

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I look for a place that is willing to accept the many different opinions and variations on homebrewing from the knowledgable staff.

I am NOT looking for a lecture from an "expert" whose only qualification is the paycheck from the LHBS.

Nor am I looking for my wife to receive a lecture about the list of items I have given her. (really happened. Went online after that until another store openedin the area.

What do I want? Camaraderie. Resources where I can learn more at my own pace (maybe a list of online resources). a chance to try different equipment I have heard about. (maybe a customer will build a new system after he learns to use a march pump.

free stuff... it builds community and pulls people in... maybe a washed yeast bank? bring some and trade for something else. (and then upsell by talking about comparing 2 yeasts on a batch.
 

Billy-Klubb

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availability of products. such as a variety of hops & yeast strains. and let the customer know that if you don't have it, you'll get it.
 
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At least one worker that does not have a beard or is a fan of either the Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox.

On a more realistic note, I would like to see some of the brewers that work in these shops provide the novice brewers some basic sample recipes that can be made with the ingredients from the store. There could be some extract, partial mash, brew in a bag and full all grain recipes with a basic set of procedure instructions for novice brewer to follow to make a transition to a different method of brewing.
 
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Ust311

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msa8967 said:
At least one worker that does not have a beard or is a fan of either the Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox.
Lol...Well...I have a beard(for movember) and I'm a Twins fan!
 

45_70sharps

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Well, being a cute chick that knows her beer helps. Sadly, I doubt you can help me there....:tank:
I'll second that one and add that she should be single!
Why is it that all the dudes at brew stores have beards?

Since you can't fill that role, like others have said you need people that are friendly and knowledgeable.
You need to be able to tell the skill level of a brewer and help them accordingly.
Also the recipe book is great. I travel about 2 hours to my "local" brew store and I've found myself there when I wasn't planning on going to town so I didn't have a shopping list. They have a recipe book there and I was able to find something that I wanted to make and pick up a batch of ingredients.
The rest of it is stuff that you have minimal ability to control. Things like the type of inventory.
It would help if you had sources for what you don't carry. Steer them to a good online source for a mill if the store doesn't have them or be able to order what you don't carry.

Grain mill for my malt purchases.

Please :)
If you go to a homebrew store that doesn't mill your grain, they aren't even trying to succeed. They will almost certainly fail.
 

Brew-Jay

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The LHBS in my neighborhood does demos once a month - extract and all grain. It brings people in and builds trust and loyalty. Also, reward repeat customers. With free shipping on Amazon it is hard to compete. So give people a reason to drive to your store.
 

45_70sharps

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The store I go to has brewing classes something like the first Saturday of the month. I don't know how many people attend, but it's a great idea.
You give them the basic knowledge, help them with any inhibitions they have, then sell them the gear they need to do it at home!
You become their default brewing guru.
I assume that their classes are extract, but I don't know.
 

Jon73

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Talk to, and listen to, your customers. My lhbs store owner knows my name, knows that I had been unemployed, knows where I currently work and knows that I will wait longer to check out if he's slammed at the register, just because we have built that kind of relationship. I think that's good advice for any small business owner with a "captured" clientele that cares about the service they provide .
 

huntingohio

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Why is it that all the dudes at brew stores have beards?
Did you miss the brew beard memo? All dude that brew should whenever possible grow a beard of epic proportions [spouse, occupation, and general hair growing ability allowing.

my chin hair is 4 inches the rest of my face is catching up.
 

mooshimanx

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My number 1 pet peeve about LHBS's are that the prices are usually far higher than what it costs to buy the same stuff online even when adding in shipping. I'm not sure that's something you can control as an employee and not an owner, of course.
 

wickman6

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I had a wonderful lhbs, they always had what I needed and at very competative prices. It is literally on my way home from work, so it's also convenient. The staff was all very friendly and helpful, and pretty knowledgeable.

All of a sudden, something changed. They had nothing in stock, unless you wanted random keg parts or 10000# pilsen dme. It got to the point I would call ahead to see if they had what I needed.

On a recent trip in, they had:

NO starsan
NO airlocks
NO us-05
NO dme except Pilsen
No lme

Those things are unacceptable!!!

When I walked in the door, the gentleman there asked me what I need, cause he doesn't have much. I have been going there a couple years and I see him often, and could sense the frustration he has. He has always wanted to help, and how can he if he doesn't have any ingredients? I just needed a few specialty grains and a couple airlocks, but all I got was the grain.

He hooked up my grain order, apologizing for not having the airlocks.

Anyway, my rant is over! lol

My point is, if the lhbs is convenient, priced well, knowledgeable, blah blah blah, nothing matters if they have nothing to sell!

I'm pretty bummed, too. I used to love that place...
 

brewmax25

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Being friendly and welcoming. The LHBS I used to go to in Chicago had staff that was miserably rude and cold. They thought they were experts and that I knew nothing because I was asking questions. Needless to say, I stopped going there unless I was in a major pinch.
 

BobbiLynn

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My local home brew shop(and I think it's funny I understood that acro right away-LHBS) has knowledgeable staff. And, anything they don't have in stock, they will order for me, I just pick it up the next week. That's all I ask, knowledge and the ability to get it for me. I live in a rural community where half the people don't even have a computer or Internet. To get our supplies, we travel to the south side of the next big city up from us, about 20 miles. Love that place.
 
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Ust311

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Beyond a premium staff that knows there stuff and takes care of the customer....would everyone like a reward card program? Something like Spend $400(doesn't take long!) and get a $20 gift certificate? Or just coupons sent to you often? What would you like to see in a reward card?

All the feed back is great!!! Thank you!
 

BobbiLynn

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The problem with a reward card is that anyone who doesn't have it feels left out, you could be alienating more people than you are drawing in. I would think coupons sent to past customers... a 50% off any one item coupon would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside... kinda like a high ABV beer would....
 

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Being friendly and welcoming.
+1. Make it your mantra. "I will be friendly and welcoming. I will be friendly and ... Om ... Om"

There are two LBS in my area. One has been there forever, very knowledgeable, very well stocked. Unfortunately, the owner is very intimidating to this newbie, like, someone should buy the guy a smile. Maybe he is tired of being there on Saturdays, but that is the only day I can shop. I avoid the place.

The second shop almost, not quite, lost my business for arrogance. This newbie was excited that I scored some local whole-flower hops. The first co-owner said "I would not use local hops. There are no quality hops around here." He just called me an idiot and embarrased me. I went to his other location and met the seond co-owner who was friendly, happy to meet a newbie, and very helpful. Changed my mind totally. So I shop there regularly instead of the long-established LBS.


KEEP IT CLEAN!
The following is what I observed at several shops. I won't give names, but if it sounds like you, clean up your act.

Some shops look like an old time general store that forgot how to use a broom. You are dealing with food, dammit! It does not have to look like a chrome-plated supermarket, but I do NOT want to see
- extract bottles stored in the bathroom. Full bottles waiting to be labled. Gross.
- And clean the bathroom if you have one
- grain scoops on the floor
- greasy, filthy grain buckets. Buy a new $2 lid.
- grain scattered all over the place
- scraps of packaging all over the place
- don't tell me your primary fermenter is in the bathroom because the temp is steady. Move it.

The local hospitals have a campaign to wash hands. It is the main way to reduce infections. Has been forever. Rule: wash hands for at least 15 seconds with soap and warm water. Do it.
 

ButcherBoy

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Ust311 said:
Beyond a premium staff that knows there stuff and takes care of the customer....would everyone like a reward card program? Something like Spend $400(doesn't take long!) and get a $20 gift certificate? Or just coupons sent to you often? What would you like to see in a reward card?
I HATE reward cards, it requires me to carry some piece of junk with me. I have a wallet not a purse, if I leave it on my desk I'll forget it when I need it. I do like reward programs, just not if it requires me to carry a card. A local chain used to use a punch card to get free coffee, went there all the time. They changed to a reward card system, to get a card you have to give up your email and drivers license number. I get enough spam in my email now and giving them my DL number is ridiculous. I don't go there anymore... Rant over.

One of the LHBS nearby uses a reward system they track at the register, when you get enough points you get a discount on a purchase of your choice. All I had to give up was name, planning a Blichman burner purchase soon to use my discount.
 

cscade

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Offer good friendly advice, but ultimately allow people to make their own choices and don't call them a fool. People brew many different ways.

My local shop is actually a pretty nice one, with classes and some community involvement. But, I don't go in there any more because they love to try to talk me into changing my recipes. If I want a certain grain and you have it, just sell it to me. Don't suggest alternates unless I ask for input. It's super annoying. The other reason I stopped going is the yeast. I'm a liquid yeast guy and I want a decent selection. I know some brewers always use dry, or only ever use cal ale. But there are many of us who like to play with different strains. If we can't get them at your shop, we will get them online instead. I even offered to buy their old (expired) vials at a discount so they would reorder fresh, and they wouldn't give me a discount.

Don't be that shop!
 

cdubbaya

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Ust311 said:
Lol...Well...I have a beard(for movember) and I'm a Twins fan!
A Twins fan? Does that mean you live in the Twin Cities area? Curious to know what Brew Shop you are starting at, as I live in Bloomington.
 

snaps10

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I went to a homebrew store that had a binder full of recipes. When someone brewed one, if they thought it was a winner they would put a star sticker on the page. Obviously more stars= good recipe. I thought it was a neat idea to give beginners good ideas for good recipes that will most likely make good beer.
 

bljustice

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I am thinking that, if you want to make a million bucks in the LHBS business, start with two million. Like with other businesses, on-line operations can lower the price because they buy in bulk, drop ship from the manufacturer, don't have a storefront and other overhead etc. That said, we buy from the more expensive guy down the street because he, or she, is there and is a person. That is both a blessing and a potential problem.

When I started to brew, I spent one day and hit every LHBS in my area. I drove about 150 miles by the end of the day but it was a great education. I have a deep background in retail so I was looking for some of the things people talked about here, well stocked, clean, user friendly, unintimidating to the rookie, etc. Most of all, it was the people, the people, the people. In a couple of shops, I was made to feel like I was not welcome. Staff were either jerks or ignored me. In another, I got the heavy lecture and the push to the expensive stuff. In each shop, I told them I had a Mr. Beer kit working at home and in all but two, I was looked at as if I was a bug.

I settled on a shop that was close enough to home to get there for the little stuff. Most importantly, I settled on that shop because the owner walked up to be and shook my hand and said "Hi, I'm Eric". He told me about the monthly demos, the shop's brew club, walked me around the shop and showed me where things were and didn't treat me like crap when I thanked him and left empty handed. A week later, I attended a demo at his shop and walked out with a complete kit. I still buy on-line when I see the occasional great deal that I know he can't match but, I try to get in and support his shop and let him know that his success is important to me and my success.
 

Brew-Jay

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bljustice said:
I am thinking that, if you want to make a million bucks in the LHBS business, start with two million. Like with other businesses, on-line operations can lower the price because they buy in bulk, drop ship from the manufacturer, don't have a storefront and other overhead etc. That said, we buy from the more expensive guy down the street because he, or she, is there and is a person. That is both a blessing and a potential problem.

When I started to brew, I spent one day and hit every LHBS in my area. I drove about 150 miles by the end of the day but it was a great education. I have a deep background in retail so I was looking for some of the things people talked about here, well stocked, clean, user friendly, unintimidating to the rookie, etc. Most of all, it was the people, the people, the people. In a couple of shops, I was made to feel like I was not welcome. Staff were either jerks or ignored me. In another, I got the heavy lecture and the push to the expensive stuff. In each shop, I told them I had a Mr. Beer kit working at home and in all but two, I was looked at as if I was a bug.

I settled on a shop that was close enough to home to get there for the little stuff. Most importantly, I settled on that shop because the owner walked up to be and shook my hand and said "Hi, I'm Eric". He told me about the monthly demos, the shop's brew club, walked me around the shop and showed me where things were and didn't treat me like crap when I thanked him and left empty handed. A week later, I attended a demo at his shop and walked out with a complete kit. I still buy on-line when I see the occasional great deal that I know he can't match but, I try to get in and support his shop and let him know that his success is important to me and my success.
You just described my LHBS. You wouldn't happen to be referring to Addison Homebrew Provisions in Fullerton, would you?
 

Molybedenum

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Keep your mill in good condition. There are a few LHBS's around Denver, and there's one further north that probably still hasn't replaced their mill. They had a Corona, but why would someone hand crank at a LHBS? I'd drop $25 for a mill for home if I wanted to do manual labor.

There's a store in lower Aurora (The Brew Hut) that is pricier per pound, but it has two mills that are kept in good shape. I don't have to worry about maintaining efficiency with what I buy from there.

My wife notices the staff friendliness of the staff more than I do. The hut had a guy willing to go through all their kits and resources for wine making, whereas the other store we went to had a staff that mostly ignored their customers.

There is another LHBS that is in south Denver, which I've been to, but they have such a small selection of stock. They also were trying to sell King Kookers at something like a 300% markup. I've only bought yeast from them, since it seems like that place is just ridiculously overpriced.

So, tip 3: try not to jack prices way up. It's stupid to do so. You compete with the Internet, and your equipment rarely will be so needed in an emergency that someone will spring for it. I also wouldn't overcharge for hops or yeast. You can find bargains online that $2/oz on hops will never compete with. Same goes for yeast. $9 for White Labs vials? Really?
 
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