As the number of breweries in the US continue to climb to record levels, competition is growing too. And it’s not simply competition between breweries but also the bars and liquor stores that sell the brews we’re eager to get our hands on.
While most look to support the brewers they love, it seems many don’t show the same loyalty to the liquor stores they buy from. They’re willing to pay more for one brewer than another, but they don’t apply the same justification to paying a bit more at one verses another. We need to show support for local stores more now than ever before. Here’s why local liquor stores deserver our support.
Reason To Worry
In 2015 craft brewery volume increased 13%, but even with double digit annual growth from the craft beer market, beer, wine, and liquor stores in the US have seen only 0.5% annual growth from 2011-2016. Despite the small growth of liquor stores in general, the big box liquor retailers like Total Wine and BevMo have seen record growth. This is concerning for the health of the local liquor store.
People cite many reason for shopping at the liquor superstores. Not only do they carry huge selections but their ability to buy in large quantities allows them to negotiate volume discounts, which they can pass along to the consumer in the form of lower prices. They’re able to undercut smaller stores because hey move so much product, much the same way that Walmart does.
Saving a couple dollars is something we’re all keen to do, but we also need to consider the tradeoff we make for that bit of savings. In the drive to save money (or buy more beer for our bucks), we’re hurting the small local liquor stores that have supported craft brewers long before the big guys came to town. Let’s look at why price isn’t everything when it comes to where you get your brews.
What Liquor Superstores Can’t Offer
The prices may be a bit lower at the big guys and they may have a larger selection of brews but that doesn’t mean they’re better than your local liquor stores. Local liquor stores offer many things the big box stores simply don’t.
Quality over quantity; it’ the reason many of us switched to drinking craft beer and it’s what small stores offer that the big guys don’t. Sure, the big stores have huge selections with isles of beer, but how long do you have to spend looking through them to find something you want? With limited shelve space, smaller stores put a focus on carrying the best brands, rather than every brand. This means you don’t have to sift through countless crap and micro-imitators made by macro brewers to find great stuff to enjoy.
Convenience is another place that smaller stores beat out the big guy. For most of us, the big retailers aren’t the closest spot to shop. They require trekking across town, parking in an overfilled lot, walking forever and dodging countless other people once inside, long lines to checkout with unhappy cashiers, and then a long journey to carry your purchases back to your vehicle. At your local liquor retailer, you have a place that’s closer to home, easier to park at, quicker to get in and out, and a better experience all around.
Small stores support small brewers. At the big stores, they’re likely to focus their support mostly on the big brands they sell the most of. Budweiser, Miller, and Coors are what they sell most, so they’re going to be the breweries they support the most. Some craft brewers may be mixed in here but they’re generally the big names and large local brewers. Small brands like your local favorites are unlikely to see much support as they don’t sell enough for the big guys to take notice. Not so at small retailers. They have a much more direct and personal relationship with your local brewers and generally do more to support small new brands in the market. Shopping with smaller stores helps support small brewers.
Most importantly, the small stores know you. When I go into my local store, Stinson Wine, Beer, and Spirits, I’m almost always greeted by someone I know. Not only do they know me, but they often know why I’m there without even having to ask. They know what beers they’ve recently received which I’m likely there for and can even show me the new arrivals since my last visit. You won’t find that kind of personal service at the big guys.
It quickly becomes obvious, your local liquor stores have far more to offer than any big box retailer ever can (even without getting into the argument that shopping small keeps more money in your local community). By supporting them, we can be sure they keep providing the great service we won’t find elsewhere.
Supporting Local Liquor Stores
It’s clear that where you shop really does make a difference. Lowest price provider shouldn’t be the direction you turn but rather who provides the greatest service for your money. Your local liquor retailers offer the best value for your buck, so how do you support them?
The first step is simple; spend your craft beer money at your local liquor stores. They provide the best service, selection, and experience, so make them your go-to spots. Stop thinking just in terms of dollars and spend your money in the place that gives you the best all around value and experience.
The second step is to support them beyond just the money you spend at their store. Support comes in many other forms. It can be telling others about them, writing an online review, sharing your great experience and recommendation on social media, blogging about them, and much more. Anything that shows your support for them, turns others on to them, and helps them out, is a great way to support your local retailers. These may seem like small and silly things to do, but they can make a huge difference for small retailers.
Your local liquor storers are great. They bring you the best beer, wine, and liquor selections around, without the hassle of the big box stores and they offer a far better experience. In turn for the great beer they bring you and the awesome experience they give, they just ask a little in return. Spend your beer bucks with them and show some support in other forms. Take the time and pay it back to those great local stores that support your community by bringing you great products, service, and experience. They’ll keep supporting you, brewers, and your craft beer habit.