Bottle Shop Employees

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by TBonez477, Apr 28, 2015.

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  1. TBonez477

    TBonez477 Defender (644) Jan 15, 2015 Vermont
    Trader

    So my local bottle shop just announced that they are hiring part time help and I'm really considering applying. I have a full time managerial job, don't really need the money but would like the experience and just have fun talking beer. For those of you who are employees or employers at bottle shops, what are the skills and experience you're looking for in potential employees? How can I market myself best?
     
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  2. Monkeyknife

    Monkeyknife Poo-Bah (3,571) Jan 8, 2007 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Beer knowledge is everything. Talk the talk with confidence.
     
  3. irishpride

    irishpride Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2009 New York

    I would say beer knowledge is a good trait. But stocking and lifting is done way more then anything in my store. Yes it's nice to have great customer service but someone needs to put the beer away. All my newbies thinks it's gonna be all about the beer but it's not, there is a lot of stock to handle before the beer talk.
     
  4. thedumbphase

    thedumbphase Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2015 New Jersey

    Demonstrate that you can carry three cases of bottles. And express that you'll take payment in beer. You'll be good.
     
  5. TBonez477

    TBonez477 Defender (644) Jan 15, 2015 Vermont
    Trader

    Thanks guys. This place is a one man staff (or at least never seen more tha one), small bottle shop with a 6-tap growler bar. My only hesitance is that I've never worked with kegs before. Otherwise I feel pretty good.
     
  6. BriantheBeerGeek

    BriantheBeerGeek Initiate (107) May 26, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Don't be a know it all douche. I once had a bottle shop guy insist that SN Narwhal was released in spring. Same guy also told me Stone oddyear releases didn't include regular releases. I still love him though, just don't think you know everything.
     
  7. josmickam

    josmickam Initiate (0) Apr 19, 2013 Georgia

    Beer knowledge and general people skills. I would say once every two weeks, you will get a basement dweller that asks "do you have this beer? what about this beer? do you ever get this? Ah I had it last night. It was pretty good." while showing me pictures of double barrel mexican cake, huna, some dark lord variant, and new glarus sours.

    Edit: It is a blast.
     
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  8. Northlax3

    Northlax3 Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2012 New Jersey

    As long as you have a general understanding of beer...

    the most important thing is youre availability. You already have a management job thats 40+ hours a week? do you really want to work more? Thats the most important question. Sure it looks fun talking to customers and selling them on beers and learning more.. but the bulk of your work will be stocking shelves, ringing sales, and ordering if they want you to. Thats really not that fun (at least it wasnt for me)
     
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  9. Givemebeer

    Givemebeer Zealot (543) Apr 6, 2013 Vermont

    Kegs you will be trained and be good enough with them very quickly. Do it.
     
  10. Providence

    Providence Champion (821) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Trader

    My first job was working at a liquor store. We made the six packs by taking Bud out of the 30 packs. It was wild. I don't know if they still do that (or if anyone else even did that to begin with). We'd have a box full of the plastic six pack holders and be sitting on stacks of thirty packs just making those things forever. Makes me chuckle. Anyway, my advice is that you get really good at putting cans into those six pack holders and then you walk in, lay out six cans, put them in the holder as fast as you can (we used to have races) and then say "Interview over!"
     
  11. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,993) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    Have you ever worked any kind of customer service before? You're going to be answering the phone and telling folks your hours just as much as having any kind of beer talk. And, the place needs to be swept, cleaned, and mopped. Shelves and coolers have to be rotated and stocked. It's a lot of dull, repetitive grunt work. It can also be a huge amount of fun, and, over time, you'll likely meet a lot of industry folks, which in turn may open other doors for you. Good luck!
     
  12. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Meyvn (1,086) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    The most challenging questions I get on the job aren't from other beer geeks, but the folks who know a small to moderate amount:
    "I had a black & tan I really liked. Can you point me to something similar?"
    "What's that beer that tastes like apricot? [I point to #9] Hmm, I don't think that's it."
    "What would work well in a barbecue sauce?"
    "When I was stationed in Poland, we had this great lager & I'm wondering if you have it."
    Eventually you build up an inventory of "go-to" suggestions, but each day I'm thrown a new one. It's fun, but it really keeps you on your toes.
     
  13. JCV2015

    JCV2015 Initiate (38) Jan 18, 2015 Wisconsin

    I count my lucky stars every day that I get to work in a bottle shop...it's actually the reason I got into craft. In short, it's the best way to stay up to date on what's happening on the scene at every level. You're always surrounded by a community of people who care just as much (if not more) about beer as you do. It's phenomenal.

    The other night, I had a regular at my store save me a pour of Vanilla Rye for an hour and half while I finished up working another job. Cultivate relationships and work your ability to make and sustain meaningful connections.

    Play up a willingness to do anything, too. It's my experience that a lot of smaller operations depend on extra elbow grease from every employee. The owner of my store used to joke that we would go from cleaning the toilet to selling a $100 bottle of wine. No joke, I've done this.

    Which leads me to another point: profess an ability to converse with people on many levels of the beer game. You should be able to give good service to someone who's never heard the word "dopplebock" before as readily as you would someone who's asking about Foreign Export Stouts.

    Feel free to BM me for more.
     
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  14. offthelevel_bytheplumb

    offthelevel_bytheplumb Devotee (402) Aug 19, 2013 Illinois

    I used to make six packs from the cases at a bottle shop I worked at.
     
  15. Aventinus88

    Aventinus88 Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2014 New Jersey

    Oh man this brings back memories. You're certainly not the only one who engaged in this tradition.
     
  16. offthelevel_bytheplumb

    offthelevel_bytheplumb Devotee (402) Aug 19, 2013 Illinois

    Well, that's nice and all, but the money sucks.
     
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  17. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina

    At my store, Its alot of up and down ladders, lifting boxes, and product knowledge. Also filling growlers. You also have to be willing to show people beer you dont care for. Like for example, I have to take customers to Blue Moon daily. Of course I recommend their cash to stay local with other great Witbiers made here. Then you have to keep your specialty stuff knowledge on point.

    If your store carries BMC or other mass produced things, be prepared to watch that stuff leave too.

    Also, unless its dead and your responsible for pouring pints, you cant talk to customers too much. Yea you can shoot the shit for a minute or two, but other than that you gotta keep movin on the next customer or stocking job.
     
  18. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (972) Sep 4, 2010 California

    To be honest the biggest determining factor will be availability. If you plan on keeping your current job, I doubt you'll have much of a chance.

    In the world of retail having open availability is everything.
     
  19. offthelevel_bytheplumb

    offthelevel_bytheplumb Devotee (402) Aug 19, 2013 Illinois

    :grimacing:

    Oh, the humanity!
     
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  20. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina

    Its an adjustment you have to make. Some people like it, and just move along. I just give them their water, and move to people like us who deserve my time. Of course Ill show them a great Kolsch to try to move them away from the Applebees beer.
     
  21. LehighAce06

    LehighAce06 Champion (828) Jul 31, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    Are you hiring?
     
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  22. beerchic

    beerchic Initiate (0) Feb 28, 2015 Ohio

    I work at two different bottle shops. Everything said so far is right on. The pay is bad, and the work can be hard. The BEST part though, is getting first crack at shipments, and making connections with others in the craft world. I had a customer recently trade me a Pliny for a local we occasionally get that he had never had. I had a coworker give me a Heady Topper, which I am enjoying right now, and another coworker give me a Dark Lord because I worked his shift Saturday so he could go to Dark Lord Day! Another awesome perk, the sampling! We get to try new beers all the time.
    I think the best employees are the ones who are good at listening and determining the customer's taste, and advising them accordingly.
     
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  23. PA-Michigander

    PA-Michigander Poo-Bah (1,806) Nov 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Classy thread. Great responses. Working at a bottle shop, big or small has its own merits and pitfalls.
     
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  24. bub72ck

    bub72ck Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2010 Virginia

    The best way to help customers is to try as much of the product that you can so you can give honest feedback. This includes things that you may not necessarily prefer but can appreciate. My bottle shop is a client of mine (insurance) so I have gotten to know them pretty well. The owner is not around very often but the guy that is usually working has probably tasted every beer in the store so he knows his stuff. I have liked just about every recommendation he has made. I've taken him a few beers here and there and he has given me some of the rare stuff they had. On the days it's busy I mind myself and do my shopping but I try to go early in the morning when it's quiet and I really enjoy talking beer with him.

    Should be a fun job for you especially if you have a primary job and can work this on limited time or exchange work for beer.
     
  25. dortenzio1991

    dortenzio1991 Initiate (0) Aug 12, 2011 Connecticut

    A ton of stocking and stringing up 30 packs into 6 packs. Its a lot of boring/repetetive work but some of the people you meet are pretty cool and it's fun turning people on to new products. Also seeing the beer scene change in the past 5 years has been quite interesting. Is it just a bottle shop exclusively or a liquor store? If its the latter, expect to sell rail vodka to the same people every morning.
     
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  26. LegitCraftBeer

    LegitCraftBeer Initiate (0) May 2, 2014 Illinois

    YES! You get crazy fast making 6-packs after a while...that's hilarious
     
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  27. stoutmasterjames

    stoutmasterjames Initiate (0) Mar 8, 2010 Maryland

    As others have said, it is mostly stocking and ringing people up. Unless you work at a place specifically structured around craft beer, expect to handle mostly domestics.

    PLUSES:
    You get dibs on ALL limited releases.
    You can get first-hand feedback on stuff you haven't tried from every day people
    If you love beer, then the job will be satisfying in some respect

    Minuses:
    It's not the best paying job (though not the worst, either)
    It is labor, and at some point, unavoidably, a little part of your soul will get sucked away
     
  28. MadeInTheMitten

    MadeInTheMitten Initiate (0) Mar 3, 2015 Michigan

    Beer knowledge isn't really needed. Having a silver tongue is enough. Most people believe whatever the fuck you say. Which is sad. Working with two Indians(not even old enough to drink) I see them talk people into buying things on a daily basis.
     
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  29. Providence

    Providence Champion (821) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Trader

    I believe we made sixers of Bud, Bud Light and Miller Light. I'm pretty sure Coors Light came already packed as sixers (as the can was slightly different in size, requiring a different holder). I can't even begin to speculate how many of those six packs I made, ha ha ha. Also, what a hilarious job to have when you're 16. I remember I'd card people and they'd get all bent out of shape because I needed to know how old they were. They'd ask, "How old are you?" To which I reply honestly. This only made them more angry. Pretty funny in retrospect. If I recall correctly (which I likely do not), I was told I could sell alcohol at a liquor store at age 16 because the packages were unopened, but to sell open alcohol as a server in a restaurant would you needed to be at least 18. Evidently it takes you two years to learn how to open a bottle.
     
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  30. asparkoflife

    asparkoflife Initiate (0) Jul 12, 2011 Massachusetts

    Knowledge is power. seriously.
     
  31. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,423) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Society Trader

    They're still out there - what's even more fun is that the six pack bottle holders have become popular with several mom and pops. I'm not talking about cardboard carriers, I mean these plastic things that you push down from the bottle tops. If you ever need to merch the homemade six packs, pulling them out of the cooler (especially the higher racks) is like that scene from "The Rock" where Nick Cage is pulling the VX nerve gas out of the holder to remove the guidance chip. You're scared to death the bottles will clank together and explode! What's best is when you don't completely clear the lip of the shelf and the back three (or two depending on orientation) come crashing into the controlled bottles. Good times!
     
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  32. Providence

    Providence Champion (821) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Trader

    I can't believe I not only read a reference to the movie "The Rock" but I read a completely appropriate reference to the movie "The Rock." Bravo!
     
  33. beerluvr

    beerluvr Meyvn (1,232) Jan 2, 2001 Canada (ON)
    Trader

    Yeah I made up thousands of Natural Light six packs from the suitcases. I can't believe how much of that stuff we sold!
     
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  34. deadonhisfeet

    deadonhisfeet Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2011 Kentucky

    LIAR!!!! Admit it - you want the job so you can get first dibs on the rare beers that come in :wink:.

    Just kidding. I would think the ability to casually assist people who are totally intimidated by the selection these days would be of the greatest value.
     
  35. Himself

    Himself Initiate (0) May 20, 2014 Massachusetts

    I work in a small one man bottle shop, I used to work high end wine sales as well. Knowledge is key, but don't be a know it all, you'd be surprised with what you'll learn and from who. The best part of it for me is that craft beer drinkers are some of the coolest people out there and being on the front lines on release day isn't so bad either.
     
  36. ESeab

    ESeab Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2013 New Jersey

    Every liquor store I worked at did the same thing with 6 packs, cost effective
     
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  37. mohawk5

    mohawk5 Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2014 New Jersey

    Say goodbye to your weekends and enjoying summer holidays. Unless you for some reason get to pick and choose your hours as if you owned the place.

    Also if they sell liquor and wine you should know a bit about that as well. And I'll be willing to bet you'll be working the register a lot which gets tiresome especially dealing with rude customers. And when you're on the floor there's the physical work of setting up displays, tidying up the shelves, moving beer into the cooler etc. Oh and if your store is lucky enough to have a lottery machine have fun with the headaches that come with it.

    So it's not like you'll be walking around the store all day just talking about beer.

    I worked part time in a big liquor store a long time ago.
     
  38. SouthAtholSuds

    SouthAtholSuds Initiate (150) Nov 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    Does Vermont have bottle redemption? If so prepare to start making a list of people you hate, who you will see every day and who will never spend a penny while in the shop.
     
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  39. Himself

    Himself Initiate (0) May 20, 2014 Massachusetts

    Edit: Just got in our Stone Ruination 2.0
     
  40. Vav

    Vav Initiate (192) Jul 27, 2008 Illinois

    I look for beer knowledge & work ethic. Beyond that...

    You may hate Budweiser, but if that rail needs to be filled, you need to fill it and be happy doing it....beer snobs need not apply. The ability to break a sweat and lift/move cases quickly is a must. I may be posting on Beer Advocate right now, but I will still break down that pallet and have everything put away faster than anyone else. A rich vocabulary to describe to customers the flavors and nuances in beer. Attention to detail (straight lines when stocking/shelving/facing, proper grammar & spelling on signs, knowing to put signs up in the first place!) A positive attitude. Excellent customer service skills.
     
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