AMA Craft Beer Workers Unite: Ask Us Anything

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Joined
Apr 12, 2013
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3,373
Location
Tracy, CA
Idk if your liquor store ever did any out of distro sales, but if they did, what's the point of it? The profits can't be that high given the cost of trading, driving, shipping, etc. Does the traffic brought in or the loyalty of reg customers make up for the low(or no) profit made from selling out of distro beer?

If your liquor store didn't do this then the question is withdrawn
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2013
Messages
19,864
Does it give you pleasure when some obvious n00b comes in and asks for Fou Foune, which you know he just read about and wants to trade for Dave or Rare, and you deny him when you knowingly have 6 in the back room? I mean do you and your co-workers ACTIVELY make fun of him, or do you just give like winks and silent nods to each other?

Do you snicker when you see someone buy a DIPA you know for a fact has been in your cooler for 4 months?

Lastly, A/S/L?
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2013
Messages
2,516
Location
Kentucky
Bootlegging
There was a time and place when Cantillon wasn't as highly sought after. At the time, Shelton Bros pulled their distribution from our state. So what we use to do is buy it from a neighboring state. He had a good distributor friend that's territory was very close to that state. We would pay him to buy cases and cases of Cantillon and bring it with him on our next truck order. Same thing for other beers. If we knew some people were traveling we would just ask them to pick us up cases and we would cash them out at the store. KBS, Breakfast Stout, Nugget Nectar, Hop Wallop, Gumball Head, and things like that we would run through. We were buying at retail, so the markup was pretty substantial. If we were getting it a 10.99, we would mark it up to 15.99ish. If it was something like Breakfast Stout it would probably have been 2x retail. But most of our clients were well off. And the stuff we were providing would have been at closest 3 hours away.

The Cantillon we would keep on the shelf. Pretty much no one at the time knew what it was, even ABC. It was like our special beer. We probably split 1 a week on lunch breaks. I can't tell you how many Fou' Founes we drank in the cooler. Fuck. If only I knew at the time.

The owners were oblivious to what we were doing. We were a monster store. All they knew is we would ask for money and it would be returned 2x what we took in the matter of a weekend, so they didn't give a fuck.

Our back room was fucking stupid. We had vintage Drie, Dark Lord verticals, old Fantomes, older lambic we were saving for ourselves, tons of shit. It was all on a top shelf, pushed to the back with shitty cheap wine boxes in front of them. That is also where we kept our rare bourbon and wine. Stuff we wanted to buy, but could only afford a bottle or so a week. If you were a regular at our store and were cool, you knew to ask if there was anything new. I would tell them hold up, go into the back and bring them out something. They would never even ask the price. They were just so happy we had things no one else did. We were also good at spotting BAs from a mile away. You just start talking to them and you can tell. These dudes would start out with maybe 2 six packs in their cart. By the time I was done with them, they'd be $200 deep. "Dude, you need to check this out. It's got such and such rating on BA, ad nauseam with details." They would 90% of the time buy whatever I sold them. Then I would tell them to hold up, disappear in the back and come back with a limited release bootle. Like a 2 year old Dark Lord or something. Boom, next day dude has written a 8 paragraph 5/5 rating on BA.

Sadly the last of the old boys is gone and the store has changed ownership 2-3 times. So no more gems.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2013
Messages
2,516
Location
Kentucky
Have you ever lied to a customer about the freshness of a product or seen another co-worker do it?
Not at our store. That was one of our things. We would try to only order enough product to push it out before it was past due. We sent a shipment of stone back that was almost at "Best By" at the time of shipment.

Things I would lie about, liking a beer, and if we have "such and such bottle"
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2013
Messages
5,669
Location
Chicago Burbs
Not at our store. That was one of our things. We would try to only order enough product to push it out before it was past due. We sent a shipment of stone back that was almost at "Best By" at the time of shipment.

Things I would lie about, liking a beer, and if we have "such and such bottle"
What about at the bar? If someone asked when the keg was tapped would you ever say "yesterday, super fresh" even though it was probably on for a few months or anything like that?
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2013
Messages
2,516
Location
Kentucky
What about at the bar? If someone asked when the keg was tapped would you ever say "yesterday, super fresh" even though it was probably on for a few months or anything like that?
Never. I would assume that others would do this. Our reputation at the bar was too good to fuck up. We couldn't keep IPAs on tap. If we got a half barrel of really killer IPA, we could flip it in 2-3 days. And we are in a relatively small town.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2013
Messages
2,516
Location
Kentucky
Idk if your liquor store ever did any out of distro sales, but if they did, what's the point of it? The profits can't be that high given the cost of trading, driving, shipping, etc. Does the traffic brought in or the loyalty of reg customers make up for the low(or no) profit made from selling out of distro beer?
We got hooked up by customers and distros that would bring us stuff at retail cost. We would send them with cash. Most of the time they were going anyway. We would usually hook them up with a bottle or deep discount on their purchase.

But think about it. We were buying at retail, and charging 1.5 to 2x the cost. A limited 10.99 4 pack we were selling for 20. You would have to sell at least 30 cases of Budweiser to make the same profit.

And yes the loyalty was a big part. We would probably get $500-1000 a week in sales off of people who read about us on BA and just stopped in. Most of them were driving down the highway and would have passed us on any other day.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2013
Messages
2,516
Location
Kentucky
Does it give you pleasure when some obvious n00b comes in and asks for Fou Foune, which you know he just read about and wants to trade for Dave or Rare, and you deny him when you knowingly have 6 in the back room? I mean do you and your co-workers ACTIVELY make fun of him, or do you just give like winks and silent nods to each other?

Lastly, A/S/L?
Last time we had Fou Foune at the bar, only the employees got to buy it. We split 2 cases between 4 of us. But yes. The worst is when one of these beers gets into a non-beer publication. Jesus fuck, when Westy Bricks were out, I hated everyone. Once those articles came out about it we had non stop calls. It took us 2 hours to sell 80 bricks. It took 2 months for multiple calls a day to stop. "Do you have any West er let her in, it's the best beer in the world." One of the doctors here read about the beer in NYT times or something. He walked into our store and demanded we sell the beer to him. He didn't believe it had sold out in a couple hours 2 weeks before. Also the Trappist fucked us and we made about a dollar profit per brick. The time we invested in that was not worth the return.

Under 30/M/USA
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2013
Messages
2,516
Location
Kentucky
did you ever mark up beer on the spot to people you didn't like

No. All of our beer was logged in a POS system. It would be damn near impossible to change it on the fly. We do give discounts to people we do like. If you are a really cool regular you might get free samples (Legally have to charge for samples in our state), or I might have forgot a pint off your tab.
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2013
Messages
10,070
Location
Oakland, CA
We got hooked up by customers and distros that would bring us stuff at retail cost. We would send them with cash. Most of the time they were going anyway. We would usually hook them up with a bottle or deep discount on their purchase.

But think about it. We were buying at retail, and charging 1.5 to 2x the cost. A limited 10.99 4 pack we were selling for 20. You would have to sell at least 30 cases of Budweiser to make the same profit.

And yes the loyalty was a big part. We would probably get $500-1000 a week in sales off of people who read about us on BA and just stopped in. Most of them were driving down the highway and would have passed us on any other day.
In your case you were offloading the gas/time onto someone else, so it makes more sense. If you were the ones driving and getting it the calculus would be different.
 

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