Employee attitudes at beer stores

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by mcdonaldlockport, May 22, 2015.

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  1. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,008) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    I dunno. I don't view buying beer as an experience. I go in, pick up the beer I want, pay for it, and then leave.

    If the person working there wants to shoot the shit, then I'm down. And in a couple of instances if I genuinely know the person then I'll have a chat if neither of us are in a rush. But otherwise it's in/out, and it's rare that I would need to ask a question.

    Thinking about it, what questions would a bunch of beer nerds need to ask at a store? I doubt it's going to be something like "what is a stout" or "I've tried SNPA, can you recommend another pale ale". I imagine it's more like "did Mexican cake come in yet" or "do you have any Parabola". So not defending it - but I guess if that's the case I can see where the "poor customer service" can creep in.
     
  2. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Maybe I don't pay close enough attention to the help in beer stores. I never seem to have problems like this.
     
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  3. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Can't say I've ever encountered such problems here in SE PA or when making trips to places like NJ, MD, VA or NC, but then there's lots of places I've not been to....
     
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  4. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I suspect that this thread will eventually trigger another one about some of the customer attitudes encountered by employees at beer stores. (At least it has often worked that way in the past. :slight_smile:)
     
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  5. DrMindbender

    DrMindbender Initiate (0) Jul 13, 2014 South Carolina

    Unfortunately, I get holier-than-though attitude when I visit the 2 main bottle shops near/in downtown Greenville SC. Aloof yet uniformed is what I get most of the time, and many times it's hard to even have a conversation with some workers because they only know what they sell and aren't real beer aficionados or advocates. I have given up on asking questions at these places because I always get the "you're obviously below me and have no clue" look followed by an answer that many times isn't even appropriate for my question.

    Too many take beer WAY too seriously, but the ones that are clueless and take it too seriously only make themselves look like fools and idiots, instead of some beer god that they imagine themselves as. It's just beer, they need to get over themselves!
     
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  6. Eastside151

    Eastside151 Initiate (0) Jun 29, 2012 Ohio

    I consider myself lucky I guess. I frequent two stores near me and both are great in terms of attitude & customer service. At one of the stores I am on a first name basis with (they treat their regulars like family) & the other every person I have dealt with has been friendly. Many times I've struck up conversation with them after they asked if I needed help. One other store in my area has been the one that offers iffy service. Based on that and some of their business practices, I refuse to go there.
     
  7. Janeinma

    Janeinma Initiate (0) May 24, 2009 Massachusetts

    then either you are shopping in the wrong area of MA, the wrong stores or causing this yourself. I am in Burlington MA and shop in a few stores around me and where I work. There are two stores where I had a great relationship with the beer managers then they left to become beer reps and I have the same great relationship with their replacements.
    There is also another store relatively near where I only visit occasionally - same story run by an awesome person.
    I treat the staff as people, I chat, I go to the weekly tasting events and as well as asking for whales I make sure I occasionally buy shelf beer.
    I buy too much beer, life is too short to shop at stores with attitude and with the ones I go to I dont need to. Oh and these stores are reasonably priced too.
    But then I have also occasionally dropped off some stuff I got while travelling, heck they got into this as they love beer too.
     
  8. Mitchell57

    Mitchell57 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Wisconsin

    People who drink beer, sell beer, work in a liquor store part time and hate it are not any more or less likely to give you good/bad customer service. It's the same as anything. Keep in mind potentially the vast majority of people you may ask a beer question to, don't know the answer, don't care about the answer, and wish beer geeks would stop asking them questions and let them be.
     
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  9. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,349) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Society Trader

    On a positive note, visited The Appalachian Vintners in Asheville for the first time yesterday and found the service to be over the top spectacular. I've really NEVER felt so welcomed and appreciated in a beer shop ever. Freaking awesome people.
     
  10. jimmyfishkin

    jimmyfishkin Aspirant (208) Nov 17, 2008 Wisconsin

    I don't have time for that nonsense, but luckily everywhere I go around here the people are nice and friendly, and willing to answer any questions, no matter how silly.

    Nice avatar by the way @mcdonaldlockport - you might even call it awesome....Great Job!
     
  11. bigda83

    bigda83 Initiate (147) Feb 13, 2014 New York
    Trader

    I have noticed this everywhere myself. Local brewery as well as when I travel out to bottle shops (don't have any in my area). I'm guessing they get annoyed getting the same questions over and over for the same beers. I work in customer service part-time and it can get exhausting and annoying, but I always try to help people the best I can. Working in it, I am also overly nice when I call and ask, but I generally get a rude reply on the other side. Again, I know it can be frustrating so I can't really be upset, just wishing for a little more help. Either that, or get the social media updates out daily and it would def be less calls.
     
  12. Troegsfan

    Troegsfan Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2007 Pennsylvania

    We as consumers do not have to patronize these types of businesses, and I don't. Whether it is a beer store, restaurant, or any other business. I will drive the extra distance to support a business that appreciates their customers. Speak with your wallets folks. I live in Palmyra PA, and we are fortunate to have an outstanding beer store in our backyard. If you are ever in the area, stop by Brass Rail Beverage in Campbelltown PA. You will see a great selection of craft beers and will experience knowledgeable and friendly customer service.
     
  13. stickboy1125

    stickboy1125 Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2012 Virginia
    Deactivated

    Haven't had any unpleasant experiences but plenty of uneducated (as far as beer goes) employees at the local shops but it doesn't bother me since I don't really want/need help. It can be slightly annoying when I ask about a fairly well known beer and they have no clue what I'm talking about, which is common at Total Wine. So many places to get beer in my area that if an employee were ever rude to me I'd never go back to that store and I think most of the shops around here realize that.
     
  14. Ericness

    Ericness Initiate (130) Nov 21, 2012 Massachusetts

    Like any type of retail store I've come across the good, the indifferent, and the bad employees. Not surprised the beer game is any different.

    Cynically, maybe beer salesmen are getting a spoiled attitude by constantly being wooed and bribed (and maybe even more :grimacing:) by customers trying to get an edge on that next hot new release.
     
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  15. do_ob

    do_ob Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2015 Kentucky

    Fortunately, it's the opposite in my town. There are 4 shops nearby that I frequent pretty regularly, and all but one have great customer service. Granted, there are some employees who just aren't into craft beer, which is fine, so they may not be able to answer some questions. On the flip side, there are some that can talk your leg off about the latest Stone release, or rattle off every single beer they tried at Huna Day. But for the most part, we have a good bunch of people working at the shops 'round here.
     
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  16. JamesShoemaker

    JamesShoemaker Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2012 Michigan

    Liquor Barrel? If so, I can say that they have outstanding customer service.

    Or Firkins? I always see employees taking customers around stores and explaining beers that may might like/want to try.
     
  17. Lucular

    Lucular Poo-Bah (3,300) Jun 20, 2014 Maryland
    Society Trader

    That's good news for you - job security!
     
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  18. Himself

    Himself Initiate (0) May 20, 2014 Massachusetts

    I work in a small bottle shop in New England and I love talking to customers. I find that if I pay attention I can learn new things about brewing, breweries and beer culture from these people. No one knows everything and to pretend that you do does a disservice to the store you are working at. Every once in a while I'll get some wanna be hipster who knows how to throw around brewing terms but with a little digging they know very little overall. Every encounter should be a learning/sharing experience.
     
  19. 4ingredients

    4ingredients Initiate (0) May 22, 2009 Massachusetts

    Have not had the bad experiences. May be luck, but I believe it has something to do with where you shop and who runs the beer department and/or owns the store. I'm not going to the corner store that employs a general clerk, stocks only BMC and not much else. I shop at 4-5 places regularly across a 75 mile range. 4 have beer guys that run that dept. and strive to make product availability and the experiences positive. Owners of the 5th store take care of it themselves.
     
  20. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Cynical? It's accurate, plain and simple. Similar phenomena exist with waiters as they know that most people tip about 18-20% no matter how bad the service is, and there's overtippers every so often so they're not going to get excited over your or my 25% tip for good service. Yawn.
     
  21. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,615) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland
    Society

    Everyone store I frequent has pretty solid to excellent customer service. It's why I find myself going back again, heck at my regular joint some of the people I've seen come in for questions have also been real jerks so it goes both ways...

    For the most part though, pretty much satisfied
     
  22. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (358) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    I'm always a bit surprised to hear about rampant bottle shop douchebaggery and condescension. I don't recall ever having felt like I was being talked down to by an employee, and I live in a city that isn't exactly known for warmth and friendliness. Perhaps my own sense of self-importance is so grand that I don't notice condescension.
     
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  23. gobuccos

    gobuccos Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2014 Ohio

    Wife and I had a great experience while traveling through Milwaukee a few weeks ago. We had a cart full of beer we cannot find in Ohio, one of the employees went out of his way to get us a few "rare" beers from the back. Needless to say, the next time we are up that way, we will stop by that store again.
     
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  24. asparkoflife

    asparkoflife Initiate (0) Jul 12, 2011 Massachusetts

    I work at a craft beer store here in MA, and I know I try to be as helpful as possible. We(well I for sure) try really hard to be focused on hospitality and not beer smuggery.
     
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  25. Andrew041180

    Andrew041180 Initiate (0) Mar 15, 2013 Massachusetts

    Everyone that I've ever spoken to at a dedicated, beer-focused store (e.g. Craft Beer Cellar) has been extremely helpful and eager to discuss beers in a non-confrontational and friendly manner. I have only positive things to say about these experiences.

    The Liquor/Wine/Beer stores with larger selections usually have employees that try to direct me to the beer manager if I have a question. I rarely run into an employee who can answer my question about availability or comparables. Each of these experiences, including those with the beer manager, is typically more transactional. Can't say I've had a bad experience at any store.
     
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  26. torihf

    torihf Initiate (0) Apr 21, 2015 Minnesota

    I work at a liquor store in Minneapolis and have always tried to be someone that was able to help people and give educated advice, or if I didn't know the answer I would find out for them. There were always people that I wished I could stand and talk to about beer forever because the transfer of information is always nice, and to have people come back to talk to you specifically because you gave good advice or listened to them is a good feeling.
    I've also worked with people that were on the opposite side of the spectrum and seen them give no or terrible service like they were being interrupted by the customer asking questions, or they absolutely hated the beer they were being asked about and instead of trying to recommend something great they would recommend something they liked which had nothing to do with the original request.
     
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  27. EyePeeAyBryan

    EyePeeAyBryan Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2011 Arizona

    I've found east coast employees to be much more helpful than west coast (specifically CA). It seems they (east) are more passionate, less annoyed sounding and just all-around in a better mood. During my trips through MA, NH and ME, I only encountered great store employees who gave me tons of suggestions, who offered assistance and to leave me alone (ha) when they could tell I felt I was being smothered. SoCal employees just seem to glare and judge, like they assume I am there to steal. Another thing SoCal shops LOOOVE to do is try and sell me on some new IPA that is supposed to be the next big thing - It's always "you don't want this, you want THIS." Here in AZ I don't need to ask what/if they have since I probably know more than they do. Other than exact availabilty and remaining inventory, I tend to just get what I need, chat a bit and then go. I'd like to think most are helpful in my hometown but I never need enough assistance to give an honest answer.
     
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  28. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado


    So how is this type of customer service/attitude different from the rest of the retail sector?
    Answer: not much, at least in my opinion.
    Why? - low pay, demeaning work, asshole customers.
    It has been my experience that you get back what you give. I'm not saying your reaction was caused by your behavior, but I've seen it so many times. Many customers like to take out their frustrations on the sales clerks/cashiers when it's obvious that they are just the messengers. If you were bitched at for every little thing a customer doesn't like, you wouldn't be so nice all the time either.
     
  29. VincentFrey

    VincentFrey Initiate (0) Jul 30, 2011 Maryland

    A lot of the bad attitudes described may just be part and parcel to the retail life. You (probably) aren't getting commissions, most of your sales are going to come from other product lines, and for a lot of retail folks it isn't really their life's calling. Somebody comes in, spends 15 minutes going through your displays, pulls you away from stock or such to ask about a $6 bomber that has little margin or isn't particularly special anyway, it wears you down.

    Not justifying shitty customer service, but just devil's advocate I guess.
     
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  30. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2009 California
    Deactivated

    Yep, my bad. OC / Newport Beach-ish
     
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  31. Kfitch

    Kfitch Initiate (0) Oct 16, 2014 Illinois

    I had a completely different experience at the same store. At the time I had just started getting in to craft stuff, and wanted to snag some beers that I was unable to get back home. I had no idea what I was looking for, and said probably the worst thing that you could say at most bottle shops. "I am from (insert place here), and I am looking for some rare stuff I won't get back home." The guy walked me in to the cooler and showed me some bottles I should grab, and then went to the back room and brought out some Supplication and some BA Old Rasputin for me. While checking out, he was telling me about all the bars and breweries I should hit if I had time. Not once did he seemed bothered to help out a noob.

    Not sure which of us were the exception and which was the rule, but I will be going back next time I am out there.
     
  32. ackeeper

    ackeeper Initiate (0) Dec 22, 2008 Illinois

    In glancing through this thread (the type of which seems to spawn with more regularity on this site), I think everyone needs to take a step back and relax. If you go through life looking to be offended by someone or something, you will not be disappointed.
    The solution to this alleged problem is quite easy. Treat the workers with respect and be polite, and respect and politeness will more than likely be returned in kind. The golden rule, and all. If things then do not go the way you anticipate, develop some thick skin, and you'll be ok. As I tell my kids, things will not always go your way, and whining will never help the situation.
     
  33. jlsims04

    jlsims04 Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2013 Illinois

    I personally love the beer guys at my locl store. Super helpful, always good for a quick conversation, ect. Pretty much the perfect bottle shop experience. I do wish however that we as a beer comnunity would stop being douche bags to employees of stores when a bottle we want is sold out. Tough shit. Get over your selfs. Your entitled to nothing. If a store gets 12 bottles and you were too slow too bad. A store recently had to delete their twitter because of how someone blew up over not getting a limited bottle (Case wasnt on invoice so they didnt think they were getting any that day, told customer they didnt have it, ended up being on the truck, they immediatly tweeted its arrival and it was sold out by the time they guy came back. At which point he threw such a bad temper tantrum they no longer tweet anything).
     
  34. brureview

    brureview Poo-Bah (2,313) Jan 20, 2012 Massachusetts
    Society

    Poor customer service- bye bye. I'll spend my money elsewhere. Bad or indifferent customer service prevails often ( not always- I shop at the exceptions) at big liquor stores.

    There are enough beer stores out there in my area so I can choose where to shop.

    Usually female owners/customer service are the best. They are articulate- about the beer and about availability
    of difficult to find beers.

    The customer is always right.
     
  35. lionelhutz23

    lionelhutz23 Initiate (0) Jul 21, 2014 Florida

    Just like in every other aspect of life there are the nice helpful people, ones that have no idea what they're talking about and have no interest in learning because it's just a job and assholes who think they know everything and like to talk down to people. C'est la vie.
     
  36. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado


    My guess is both. It may have to do with the way you asked your question or the side of the bed the employee woke up on or something completely arbitrary.
     
  37. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado



    And this is how the bad apple customers spoil the whole bunch.
     
  38. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado


    Something tells me you never worked in retail.
     
  39. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2009 California
    Deactivated

    My experience could have been much worse and I'd still go back there. That place is freaking phenominal...

    Cheers!
     
  40. jlsims04

    jlsims04 Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2013 Illinois

    Wrong. The customer is wrong, rude, and unplesent often.
     
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