1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Will this affect Seattle area bottle shops?

Discussion in 'US - Northwest' started by bifrost17, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. bifrost17

    bifrost17 Initiate (0) Washington Dec 16, 2011

  2. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,130) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member

    I would tend to doubt it. BevMo is hardly a discount store (often times their prices are higher then what you would pay at the local brewery or brewpub), and certainly their existence doesn't seem to have had much impact on local bottles shops in California.

    If you have chance, take a look at some of the BA reviews for some of the BevMo's down in California. As you'll probably notice, most of them do not get a very good/high score. IMHO, there's a very good reason for that (mundane selection, mediocre service, high prices, etc.).

    When I'm down in California, I'll sometimes stop by a BevMo, if it happens to be the closest store around, there doesn't seem to be anything better within a reasonable driving distance, and I just want to grab something for some uncritical conumption while watching TV in the hotel room.
  3. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,180) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    Just my guess, but I think it will shake out like the local wine/liquor store in the story. These big stores will have cheap prices on standard brews and the smaller local bottle shops will focus on the smaller craft/import breweries. Either way, more beer stores are a good thing for me!
  4. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,130) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member

    "These big stores will have cheap prices on standard brews"

    You would think so Terry, but in my experience, this isn't the case with BevMo. I mean you're right about the focus on standard brews, but BevMo prices are generally no better than what you'll find at most grocery stores in town (Trader Joe's is the place to go for cheap prices on standard brews).

    Also.... in my experience, freshness is often an issue with BevMo. It will often depend on the store, but they tend to have so much inventory, often times you'll come across beers that have been sitting around for months (or longer). So if you do come across something a bit obscure sitting on the shelf there, you should probably ask how long it's been sitting around (sometimes the staff can tell you; sometimes not).
  5. I have to admit I went out to Total Wine today just to check it out. The prices seemed a little lower then Seattle. But most of the stuff is just out on shelves and not refrigerated. They do have some stuff cold though. The growler fills seemed cheaper. One thing that I thought was a mistake was they carry Clown Shoes. Has anyone seen that in Seattle before? I know I never had. I also learned from the Sierra Nevada reps that Brux will be hitting Seattle the week of July 16th and they have something like 200 cases for the area.
  6. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,050) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    This is the one point I was going to add, having been to one BevMo down in San Diego. Most of the stock was sitting out @ room temp. Basically everywhere I shop for beer most of the inventory is either in closed coolers with glass doors (bottle shops) or open coolers (grocery stores). Either method probably helps maintain freshness over room-temp storage, especially for hoppy beers.

    BTW, I'll throw in a big plug here for Beer Junction, in case they need one. Stopped by the new location for the first time last night (after spending almost 90 minutes in traffic first on Aurora and then mostly on surface streets from Queen Anne all the way to West Seattle). Morgan is always prompt and responsive to emails, friendly and helpful in the store, and the new place is great. Open, clean, tons of beer in closed coolers, and several beers on tap with a nice seating area. Wish I could have spent more time (desperately needed a beer after the harrowing drive over there), but I arrived just in time for last call. Grabbed a few bottles and headed home. This would be a regular go-to place for me if it was closer, as would 99 Bottles.
    BigE90 likes this.
  7. leedorham

    leedorham Champion (835) Washington Apr 27, 2006

    My experience with visiting Bevmo in other states is that they are just not willing to stock the variety of craft beer that a good bottle shop carries. Their beer sections are comparable to a really good grocery store beer selection with a few extra hyped gems every once in a while.

    I don't see them destroying the bottle shop niche.
  8. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (400) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    Truth be told... BevMo or TotalWine or any other new entry into the scene won't have dramatic impacts on beer simply due to the fact that the beer laws did not change with the passage of I-1183. There is still no volume discounting of beer in Washington state. BevMo, or any other retailer, will have to buy their products the same way the did before and from the same vendors.
  9. Bambinos

    Bambinos Initiate (0) Washington Nov 21, 2010

    According to my rep there has been volume discounts since March. I do however think Seattle is very supportive of the small businesses that serve their communities so I imagine the impact will be minor (more like hoping really).
  10. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (400) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    There are NO volume discounts on beer in Washington state. Only wine and hard liquor were given volume pricing. State law still forbids it. If you rep has been giving volume discounts on beer, he's in violation of the law. Here is the blurb from the WSLCB website:


    My point of this is to say that when you see retail price discrepancies in the marketplace it is due to one retailer taking a lower margin and another retailer taking a higher margin. They all paid the same price for the product. BevMo will pay the same price for a beer as Joe's Corner Convenience store.
  11. bifrost17

    bifrost17 Initiate (0) Washington Dec 16, 2011

    You saw Clown Shoes there? That's definitely crazy, I'll have to go check this out.
  12. Yeah, it was there. They had quite a few different ones. Maybe 7 or 8. The store is arranged by style not brewery and since I've never seen them before I may have missed some. I picked up Vampire Slayer and Blaecorn Unidragon.
  13. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,050) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Just check out the website. They've got a bunch of Clown Shoes beers listed. And you can buy now & pick up later. That's one advantage these stores have that no other local shops offer.
  14. honkduh

    honkduh Savant (315) Oregon Jun 2, 2011

    $6.99 for a growler fill of Deschutes Hop in the dark isn't bad. I grabbed bombers of Vampire Slayer and Chocolate Sombrero Mexican Chocolate Stout.
  15. So can they get beers (Clown Shoes) not normally distributed in Washington due to having some sort of central warehouse nationally? If so, that could hurt local bottle shops. I live in West Seattle- I have Beer Junction. I'll venture to Bottleworks occasionally, but I won't be driving to Bellevue or Tacoma just to save a couple of bucks.
  16. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,130) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member

    Doesn't work that way at the BevMo's in California. They sometimes carry stuff you won't find any place else, but that's usually because no one else is interested in carrying some of the beers you'll find at BevMO.
  17. Soonami

    Soonami Savant (455) Pennsylvania Jul 16, 2008

    These huge stores generally have more of the Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Victory, New Belgium core brand stuff at lower prices and almost always in stock, but typically the breadth of their selection is not anywhere close to that of a bottle shop. There are 2 Total Wines within 30 minutes drive of Philly, yet in the Philly area there are maybe 25 successful bottle shops/bars that sell takeout beer for about 25% more on comparable items. This is because bottle shops offer a couple of things that Total Wine won't be able to:
    • Passionate beer people - most of the people that work at Total Wine that I've met, know more than the average person about beer/wine/spirits, but they likely don't know more than you. A couple years ago, I asked the staff if they had anymore Cantillon, and he told me everyone that tried it hated it and that Lindeman's is the best Lambic... Most people that work bottleshops love beer too and work there because they like to drink, talk about, and share beer. They are there to help ensure you enjoy the beer you bought
    • They curate their inventory - Total Wine puts just about everything on the shelf, no bottle limits, buy just about anything, etc. Bottle shops will often limit purchases of beers that are in desire to help keep people from hoarding and they usually don't carry beer that is terrible (at least not without warning you first)
    • Selection - a couple Philly bottle shops I shop at carry vintages of some beers (often at a premium), will go to breweries to buy and resell beers that are brewery releases (East End, Troegs Scratch, Weyerbacher Brewer's Series)
    • Special Events - bottleshops often build close relationships with Sales Reps so they often have better Tap Takeover or Brewery Events, where special beers that aren't just shelf beers are poured
  18. Honestly, Clown Shoes was the only thing I saw there that I hadn't seen before, save maybe an odd Belgian or two (Brigand, and something other - not sure if available here in the area already). I'm still not sure how Clown Shoes made its way here.
  19. We ended up eating dinner with some friends in Issaquah, so we went by on the way out there. I grabbed one of each of the Clown Shoes stouts and asked the guy working the beer section how they got them and if any other beers without Washington distro are coming. He told me that they have had a working relationship with Clown Shoes which allows them to work around the three tier system in states without a distributor for CS. He said it was an old relationship and a unique one.
    66jzmstr likes this.
  20. @Aml42000 - Nice work, Gumshoe! Thank you for looking into this, as I certainly couldn't make heads or tails of it. Enjoy those stouts, too.
    Smurf2055 likes this.
  21. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Savant (465) Oregon Aug 17, 2005

    Did the laws change to allow retailers to directly import out of state product, or did he just admit to breaking the law?
    tozerm likes this.
  22. I pass by Total Wine every day on I-5 while driving home to Greenlake. Never stopped in, but now I definitely will.
  23. I don't know the ins and outs of direct importing, but I'm guessing an outfit like Total Wine has this set up in a way that is legal. Based on the number of people in the store, they would have a ton to lose over illegally selling some $8 bombers of beer.
  24. honkduh

    honkduh Savant (315) Oregon Jun 2, 2011

    I believe the only location at this time is in Bellevue.
  25. Whoops, I was thinking of Wine World (And Spirits!).
  26. sukwonee

    sukwonee Advocate (560) Washington Dec 13, 2011

    Wow you actually found someone that knows something there? I went to Total Wine (Bellevue) twice and noone really had a clue what they were doing.
    DJFairhurst likes this.
  27. sukwonee

    sukwonee Advocate (560) Washington Dec 13, 2011

    Just stopped by Total Wine (it happens to be 5 minutes from where I live), they had about 2 cases of DFH 120 minutes on the shelf. I personally hate this beer, but it seems like a good seller in Washington for some reason. Just an FYI. No limits and there was no price tag (and not in the fridges obviouly).