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Tips for Opening a Beer Store


read 37421 times • 52 replies • posted 3/4/2008 5:59:03 PM

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Redseal94 9:5
Hi all,
Iím very new to this site, but have been appreciating beer for quite sometime. I am considering opening a specialty beer store some point in the future. Probably a few years in the future as I want to have a good plan down before I start anything.

Does anybody have tips for starting this type of business? Any good books to read?

Iím currently in the Lafayette, Indiana area so if there is anyone in the area with experience, I would love to meet up sometime.

I plan on moving back to Massachusetts (either Worcester or Boston) area so if anyone in this area has suggestions I would love to hear them.

Thanks for your knowledge and help in advance!
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Coreyroz
Apparently nobody knows how to run a successful store--good luck to you!

Corey
3/11/2008 2:13:32 PM

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wickedpete 634:5
I have never started up a store but I have shopped in quite a few and here is something Iíve noticed about selections:

You need to have a good relationship with your distributors.


In Maryland we have an amazing liquor store called State Line that carries pretty much anything and everything that is available in the state and it is located about 3 hours away from me. My local stores can barely get Dogfish Head special releases. They canít get Ten Fidy. We just got NÝgne ō, but only the brown. A store 45 minutes away can get lots from Great Divide including Yeti, but my local guy can only get Denver Pale Ale. The distributors make certain accounts a priority, and that is how you become a specialty and elite store: you have to have the inventory. If you canít get the elite beers it doesnít matter what your vision is, you are at the mercy of the ones who provide the beers to you.
3/11/2008 2:23:28 PM

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JK 4573:293
I have heard a phrase, "wine pays the bills."

I would seriously consider opening a liquor store that also has a good beer selection.
3/11/2008 2:28:53 PM

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dankman 253:20
Originally posted by Coreyroz
Apparently nobody knows how to run a successful store--good luck to you!

Corey


Except the fine people at Roziís in Lakewood, Ohio; it was voted the best Roziís in Ohio.
3/11/2008 4:04:57 PM

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Coreyroz
Originally posted by dankman38
Originally posted by Coreyroz
Apparently nobody knows how to run a successful store--good luck to you!

Corey


Except the fine people at Roziís in Lakewood, Ohio; it was voted the best Roziís in Ohio.
Iíve heard of that Roziís place, maybe Iíll have to check them out.
3/11/2008 4:40:02 PM

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brewtopian 2:
Originally posted by JK
I have heard a phrase, "wine pays the bills."

I would seriously consider opening a liquor store that also has a good beer selection.


Wine stores have a failure rate on par with restaurants due in large part to the expensive inventory they have to carry. A wine store with a decent inventory stocks upwards of $75k to $200k while a beer store only has to carry $30k to $60k. If you carry beer and wine your inventory is obviously higher but the square footage requirements increase and therefore your overhead goes up.

Iím in the process of opening a beer store myself and have spent the last year and a half working on the plan. Iíve travelled all over the continent visiting beer stores and have noticed a trend. Stores seem to be either glorified liquor stores with no expertise or knowledge about beer or boutique beer stores that are very small, very low volume and appear to be in operation solely to give the owner a job. I personally believe there is a third way. I believe that you can have a store that is all about beer, offers real serious beer knowledge and service and makes real money.

If you want to open a beer store I would encourage you to put some serious thought into what you want out of the store, what opportunities there are in the market youíve chosen and what the long term goal for you and the store is. Look for opportunities within your chosen market where you competition is weak and build a plan around that.

Always remember that the biggest obstacle to a successful beer store operation is overcoming the convenience factor that puts supermarkets and C stores in positions of power. If youíre looking for real commercial success meaning profits you will have to draw in some volume and that comes with being convenient for everyone not just beer geeks.

Best of luck, the world always needs more great beer stores.
3/11/2008 8:48:33 PM

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illinismitty 2270:279
Just remember no matter hard hard to try to please beer geeks, one of them will find something to bitch about.
3/11/2008 9:12:24 PM

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Coreyroz
Originally posted by Redseal94
Hi all,
Iím very new to this site, but have been appreciating beer for quite sometime. I am considering opening a specialty beer store some point in the future. Probably a few years in the future as I want to have a good plan down before I start anything.

Does anybody have tips for starting this type of business? Any good books to read?

Iím currently in the Lafayette, Indiana area so if there is anyone in the area with experience, I would love to meet up sometime.

I plan on moving back to Massachusetts (either Worcester or Boston) area so if anyone in this area has suggestions I would love to hear them.

Thanks for your knowledge and help in advance!
In all seriousness, I am the fourth generation of our family-owned wine, beer and liquor store. We have been here 69 years. Wine is our base, beer follows and we sell a lot of liquor. One of the biggest things to look at is the profit margin. Wine has the greatest margin, then beer and liquor is almost break even or very little margin. You may want to be a primarily beer store but will have to pay the electric bills and rent with wine sales. There are a lot of ways to look at it, but if you find a way to make the dismal beer margin pay the bills then more power to you.

Corey
3/12/2008 11:34:09 AM

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Kinz 3347:64
Iíll quote the owner of my favorite local beer store. "Wine pays the bills, we sell the beer out of love." We just had a very good local bottle shop close, in large part because a supermarket opened up just down the street, decimating his wine business. I think it might be possible to go strictly beer, but I see that as a very difficult way to go. One thing I see all the time when Iím out shopping - the couple walks in, and they promptly split up, one going to wine, the other to beer. No reason to alienate half of a couple if you donít need to. If you can afford the shelf space and inventory, carry wine.

Choose a good location.

Use shelf talkers.

Train your staff to ask questions and know the product. Make them taste it.

Make sure your distributors love you. They can kill you if they give other stores limited releases and leave you out in the cold.

One other tip - donít create fake accounts on ratings sites and put up ratings bashing your competitors and praising your own store.

And finally, when your store gets a negative review (and eventually someone is going to find something to complain about), donít take it personally and start a flame war. It just makes you look silly.
3/12/2008 1:33:31 PM

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aspidites 1272:1
Originally posted by JK
I have heard a phrase, "wine pays the bills."

I would seriously consider opening a liquor store that also has a good beer selection.

Ed Ledger of Ledgerís liquors has said that beer is his biggest seller by a wide margin and wine sales are in the crapper.
3/12/2008 2:03:08 PM

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