Hardware Retailing

FEB 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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February 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 65 Become the Homebrew Expert One of the key components to becoming a successful homebrew supplier is to have experts on staff to get new homebrewers started and support established homebrewers who may have more advanced needs or questions. "The most important thing is to have one person well grounded in the ability to homebrew and who knows the nuances of the craft," Talman says. "At my store, I am that person. The second most important thing is to have a few employees familiar with the process who have prior homebrewing experience. We'll have demos in our store, and not only are these helpful for customers, but they are also great for our employees, because there is no better way to understand homebrewing than to do it yourself." At Brewer's True Value, two other employees are well-versed in the homebrewing category, which ensures there is always someone to help a customer, even when Brewer is away on nights and weekends. While Brewer says all individuals have their own way of homebrewing, there are basic steps to follow. When training employees in homebrewing, you should make sure they understand these basic steps and can lead customers in the right direction. "Make sure you have someone who can champion the homebrew category," Brewer says. "If you get involved with local homebrew clubs, you can find people to help." To take education to the next level, Brewer hosts introductory beer-making classes at the store each month to show people how to homebrew. He caps class sizes at 16 people. Talman doesn't typically host events at his store; however, he has offered demonstrations at various locations in town, like at local breweries and the local library. These events attract people who are interested in homebrewing and let them know that Karp's Hardware and Homebrew is where they can find the products they need. Joining the (Homebrew) Community One of the reasons people are continually drawn to homebrewing is the social element of the hobby. "Homebrewing is very much a group-focused hobby," Talman says. "The friendships and social aspect of homebrewing are part of the reason why people get started." With more than 1.2 million people who brew their own beer at home in the U.S., communities of homebrewers are found all over the country, according to the American Association of Homebrewers (AHA). Hosting Homebrewing Events When customers head to Brewer's True Value, they may need to pick up items for a DIY project, but the homebrew section of the business is likely to steal their attention. In order to encourage curious customers to try homebrewing, David Brewer makes it a point to answer any questions they may have, as well as invite them to the next monthly introductory beer-making class at the store. "The events we hold on a regular basis at the store are wine- and beer-making classes," Brewer says. "I'll make a beer and show customers the steps from start to finish." Brewer typically hosts the introductory class once a month, with class sizes capped at 16 people. In addition to watching the homebrew process, attendees have the opportunity to sample beers from Brewer and other homebrewers. After the class is complete, Brewer answers any additional questions and helps customers select items they may need to get started at home. "People from the local homebrew club often come help me out at my classes, which is very helpful," he says.

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