Four Firkins

Discussion in 'Midwest' started by ToadiesForCody, Mar 26, 2014.

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  1. TheBeerDrinker

    TheBeerDrinker Initiate (0) Jan 29, 2014 Minnesota

    For what they want you to chip in I would expect more confirmed access to hard to get releases. It just seems like they want something for very little that you can get from any other store.
  2. TheBeerDrinker

    TheBeerDrinker Initiate (0) Jan 29, 2014 Minnesota

    You have to love the FF. When they were out of regular BCBS they offered me 2008 BCBS. They are a very nice store with lots of good product. I would love to help them out but I think that the reality is that most of us just don't have the money to fund their new store(s) especially just for a couple of confirmed access to something everyone wants and as someone already brought up... is that gonna be a four pack or a single bottle. Regardless I would love to help the store but all that money for so little in return just isn't worth it. Really if you have that much money to give up to secure such little beer, one might as well take the day off of work and go bottle shopping. Surely one would do better that way. The only way I see this as a good thing is that it helps a true beer store but it also hurts other true beer stores that have been hooking people up for years. I personally can't come up with the moola even if I wanted to. These days it seems like even the beer stores are trying to do the money grab and this is just another example. I will be supporting my local store instead of helping put them out of business. And that is no dig at Alvy as he is a great guy but in the end we are just helping support a chain instead of helping the people who have hooked us up for years. It's a shit sandwhich... Damned if you do and damned if you don't. I personally love the relationships I have built with my local stores and feel like I would be helping put them out of business if took the tiny token for the money I donated. Cheers to Alvey for all he has done for the beer scene and all the advocacy he has done with the government. It's a sad thing to have to make this kind of decision but in the end I don't have the money for a couple releases that I could trade for if I don't get them.
    #42 TheBeerDrinker, Mar 27, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  3. McRyan

    McRyan Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2012 Minnesota

    The customer service they like to provide is to the novice beer drinker. They want to sound like the experts all the time.
    surlytwinsfan and JMN44 like this.
  4. lurpy1

    lurpy1 Zealot (564) Jan 15, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I'm not giving to Alvey's established business kickstarter money any more than I'm giving Target kickstarter money to open a new store. <sarcasm>It's a miracle Heritage was able to afford their new digs without crowdsourcing.</sarcasm>
  5. JMN44

    JMN44 Aspirant (217) Sep 19, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I agree. I feel FF is a store more for those just getting into the craft beer scene that don't realize they are paying higher prices (in many cases) or that they could get the same craft beer often at a local store closer to their homes. I see many customers with no idea what they want to buy when they shop there. I'm not saying this business model is wrong but the store seems aimed toward novice craft drinkers.
    Alpar, surlytwinsfan and McRyan like this.
  6. mkhartnett

    mkhartnett Disciple (350) Oct 27, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    It always makes me wonder how they are one of the first stores to be sold out of limited release stuff. Literally in minutes they'll be out of stuff. Who are these people that just wait for them to get it then go there. I know well enough not even to try there.
  7. JMN44

    JMN44 Aspirant (217) Sep 19, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    The funding is currently up to over $11k. Incredible.

    I wish someone from FF would respond to this thread defending their money grab, I mean expansion funding request. I'm not sure how FF could state their case for needing money for expansion of 5 stores but I am willing to listen to their side.

    The bad feelings toward and lost of business FF from some on BA probably won't hurt their business as much as $50k but their reputation is being drug in the mud.
    McRyan and ToadiesForCody like this.
  8. McRyan

    McRyan Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2012 Minnesota

    My thought on this is. They do not sell the volume of flagship beers others do. I would assume they get pretty small allotment because the lack of flagship sales.
  9. McRyan

    McRyan Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2012 Minnesota

    "I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way." - The "Cubes" (AKA Mark Cuban)
    SipIt likes this.
  10. billhelm

    billhelm Aspirant (255) Feb 9, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    they send out the bat signal whenever they get something rare to twitter and facebook and have a large following in both places.

    If I'm looking for something rare these days, I'm generally going to the places that don't send out the batsignal every time something drops. works better.
  11. mnbearsfan

    mnbearsfan Aspirant (246) Dec 25, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    And open a bar to boot.
    KV12482 likes this.
  12. SipIt

    SipIt Aspirant (223) Jul 18, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Wow, I'm pretty appalled by this...I've written, then deleted several times, because I'm not sure what to say. I'm an owner of a small business, and fully understand start up costs, loans, and being leveraged to the tilt, but as an owner we do this because we believe in our business. We are the ones who gain as our business grows, the customer/community can get trickle down benefits, but it's not the same. I'd love to hire 10 more sales reps to grow my business even further and faster, but I don't currently have the funds to do so. It takes time, dedication and sacrifice amongst a solid business plan, which is what I thought FF was all about before I received the email yesterday.

    Last time I checked, I picked up the tab when I took my customers out to dinner, not the other way around and I certainly don't charge them(maybe I'm not exactly comparing apples to apples here being in a different industry, but still). $1k for beer to be held for you? $1.5k for a beer class with ten beers? - Go on Amazon and buy the book Tasting Beer for $10, I guarantee you'll learn more. $5k for one on one consulting with the one and only Alvey??? If you're worth $5K, for 5 hours, why the F### can't you afford to open a second shop.

    This little fundraiser might work for the cash injection, but talk about bad press.
  13. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (1,583) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I knew that a second store was in the offing, but from the way this has developed, maybe a third and fourth location will be likely, too? :sunglasses:
  14. MCImes

    MCImes Disciple (353) Dec 31, 2010 Connecticut

    They really have nothing to gain by responding to this. They're successful enough for this thread not to matter one bit. You know, the 'dont feed the dogs and they'll go away' logic. They'll hit their goal. Life will move on...

    Also, I second that they are more geared to the novice drinker, although they are very knowledgeable by the simple fact that they all get to drink a ton of beer, often times rare/special stuff that people bring in.
  15. mkhartnett

    mkhartnett Disciple (350) Oct 27, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Yep, they have no need to respond. It'll do them no good. They will hit their goal, and even if they don't, they get to keep whatever money they raise. It's at $11k after a day, they'll get there with some word of mouth.
  16. ToadiesForCody

    ToadiesForCody Disciple (362) Oct 30, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Anyone willing to donate to my chest freezer fund? I need a controlled cellar. lol
    JMN44 likes this.
  17. JMN44

    JMN44 Aspirant (217) Sep 19, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    The FF plan is to open 5 stores so a store can be close to everyone in the Metro area. But remember that FF is just a small business so they need our money to do this. I wonder if FF will ask for more $ when they begin to open stores #3, #4 and #5?
    KV12482 and Chaz like this.
  18. mkhartnett

    mkhartnett Disciple (350) Oct 27, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Who knows, but it seems this money is to help them get the 2nd store open, where they can take better advantage of economy of scale. Order more, lower prices, compete better (though are their prices really limiting their competition? Seems like their prices are what they are, and the idea is they provide a better service then Byerlys down the street.) I just can't see how they haven't run a business for as long as they have and managed enough profit to fund their own down payment for a second store. As an investor I'd be nervous if that was the case.
    JMN44 likes this.
  19. mnbearsfan

    mnbearsfan Aspirant (246) Dec 25, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Four Firkins is a “Boutique” shop in my opinion. The reason why one off stores tend to make it is because they are special. If you go to 50th and France or The Galleria, how many of those stores exist somewhere else? Not many. Once there are 2, 3, 4 of the same store with no real competitive advantage, you sales will take from the others. If I drove from St Paul to the Four Firkins, my business will now be shifted to Woodbury…my dollars are the same. Will they pick up new customers, sure, but will the new customers be worth the investment. I believe that FF is fun for people to go to because it is “their” store. I like going to see Ed, Bill, Mick and Jim. They all have the same beer as MGM, FF and Total wine, but I like to go there; and I can buy more than just craft beer because sometimes I am looking for something additional. Does the price that FF charges justify me going there and not one of the dozen I drive to along the way, no it does not. Beer is a commodity.
  20. secondtoughest

    secondtoughest Aspirant (214) Oct 27, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Mplsmetro57 and ToadiesForCody like this.
  21. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (1,583) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Seeing as that is the case, why stop at only five stores unless the plan is only to compete with a smaller franchise operation like The Cellars? I mean, there are more than five suburbs, eh? And the Twin Cities metro area is always growing*.

    Likewise, I understand the criticism for the method being used for this expansion, but considering the praise that the Four Firkins has received over the years (it outweighs the criticism, in the main) I am surprised that investors haven't been lined-up for years, just clamoring to franchise off of Jason Alvey's original store and concept!

    Good luck to him, all the same.

    *Not growing at the same, amazing rate as the Craft Beer market, but you get the idea. :wink:
  22. HoistinBrews

    HoistinBrews Devotee (471) Mar 26, 2011 Minnesota

    Considering what little amount you get in return for plunking down a medium/large/huge amount of's still a better deal than Green Bay Packers stock certificates :wink:
    hardy008 and PieOhMy like this.
  23. dc55110

    dc55110 Aspirant (282) Oct 24, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    At least with the Packers you get to at least pretend you're an "owner"...
    s_wit and Ungertaker like this.
  24. MNMike

    MNMike Initiate (188) Dec 3, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    This is one of my biggest problems with this deal - now everyone who doesn't "pay" will have a lower chance of getting rare releases at a store where the chances were already low. Liquor Barrel, here I come...
    Mplsmetro57 and JMN44 like this.
  25. Pug

    Pug Disciple (385) Jun 6, 2012 Minnesota

    I would like to say, though, that as much as I'm not quite on board with this crowdfunding, I'm still going to shop there. I get a good experience, some tastings, often find something I'm not necessarily looking for, and they have a great build your own six pack that I can't do at most places (that I'm aware of) in the southwest suburbs.

    I don't shop there often (every month or two), but I'll continue to do so as it makes sense to do so.
  26. jera1350

    jera1350 Poo-Bah (2,192) Dec 15, 2007 Minnesota

    I am going to start asking friends and relatives to help me fund a large down payment on a lake cabin. For $1000, they can pick two nights to stay at said cabin a year, but they will have to provide their own transportation, food and drinks.

    Of the few times that I have shopped there, I have always had the feeling I wasn't good enough. Kind of like a clique.
    #66 jera1350, Mar 27, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  27. GeezLynn

    GeezLynn Champion (856) May 10, 2009 Colorado

    Looks like it has now passed $11k. Apparently there are a number of people out there highly enthused about the opportunity to have their name "forever be immortalized" on a (likely) small plaque in a beer store, where no one except themselves will ever read it. A fool and his money…...
    TEdubbaD likes this.
  28. FirkinsBryan

    FirkinsBryan Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2012 Minnesota

    What? Hey, hello, everyone!

    This morning when I woke up and saw we were at $11k quite a few emotions ran through me. Mostly, I am scared we don't disappoint those people who have so much faith in us. I also find it amazing how I thought I've been humbled in the past, and this blows it out of the water. It's crazy.

    I can understand how some people would think this is a money grab from an already successful company. Truth is, we could open a new store in a few more years without doing this, but the landscape is changing quickly in Minnesota and we need to act now. We simply don't have the funds to do it. The second store will open new revenue to accelerate more stores - we won't be doing another Indiegogo for store #3.

    In a nutshell, we have many full timers who currently work at the Firkins. FT people cost a lot of money. It's a business decision we made a long time ago because we want to hire a base of valuable people who view the Firkins as a career. It has also made the business not nearly as profitable as it could be, and growth is slow. The second store will allow us to hire more part timers - people who are beer enthusiasts, but may not want to work retail all their lives.

    To the point of the incentives not being "worth it": no, they aren't worth the actual dollar amount people are giving. We are not looking to break even. We are looking to make a down payment. People who are giving us money are not looking for a deal, they want to help us out, and we need creative ways to sweeten the pot and still make money.

    Look at it this way. Monday, we received Black Note. It is our policy to not hold bottles for regulars because we have so many people we consider friends, it would be impossible. We likewise don't allow employee purchases of rare beer like that. So when we put all of our Black Note out Monday morning, without announcing it anywhere on social media, we still had a steady stream of people walking in and purchasing their two bottle limit, and only that. I didn't recognize 95% of them, they were not regular customers. It was gone in less than an hour, probably before noon. I would like a fair right for someone who cares enough about the Firkins to get the opportunity for rare beer, and still have a bit left over for those people who magically know we have something like that.

    In fact, if you have any good ideas for incentives, we can still add them! (No, you can't get a hug from Alvey every time you come in the store. Only I get that.)

    To anyone who has given to us: thank you so much. We knew we would get some criticism from this, but we hope you understand we are retailers who are passionate about beer, and we want to bring this to as many people as possible. We aren't a faceless corporation who just wants all your money. We want more education, more consumer rights, and more people who actually care about the customer. In a few years the landscape will be very different. We need to get a foothold now.

    I hope I answered any questions you may have. Thanks again, you don't know how much this means to us!
    KingCharles and cmannes like this.
  29. SipIt

    SipIt Aspirant (223) Jul 18, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    With all do respect, when a company is looking to expand before they can meet the financial constraints they normally look for investors. Meaning additional shareholders who inject cash. Cash that gives them ownership by virtue of shares. I guess that's not how it works anymore?
    n8opot8o, Ish1, mnbuffalo and 3 others like this.
  30. mkhartnett

    mkhartnett Disciple (350) Oct 27, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Can I do a body shot off Alvey everytime I come in, wait, never mind.
    FirkinsBryan likes this.
  31. dougofthefuture

    dougofthefuture Aspirant (264) Oct 15, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    ... measured by their willingness to pay for that privilege, not how "regular" they have otherwise been. There is no way around the fact that you are now monetizing the rarity factor. Certainly it is a tough situation. This is just a new and disturbing way to deal with it.

    I am afraid you are right...
    Ungertaker and maximum12 like this.
  32. JMN44

    JMN44 Aspirant (217) Sep 19, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    So if I understand FF correctly, they need this free money because they overpay salaries by having many full time employees and they need to expand now because FF fears large liquor stores are coming into MN and customers will realize their prices are often higher and go elsewhere. Not good enough reasons for me but if others want to give away their money that's their choice.

    Also, if FF didn't like that 95% of the Black Note went to non-regular customers, just have your regular customers sign a request list when they ask for rare beers and give them 1 bottle like many other stores. Truck chasers mostly eliminated. Problem solved.
  33. MNMike

    MNMike Initiate (188) Dec 3, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Couple ideas for ya (I'd view these as all relatively low $$ ones):
    - the right to pick 1 or a few "premixed six packs" for that spot in the cooler
    - you get to "host" one of the free night tastings at the store (pick the beers within reason, and pour them for the folks)
  34. McRyan

    McRyan Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2012 Minnesota

    They are admitting a failed business model by hiring to many full time employees. They can't afford to expand without the communities help. And they are going to stock the Woodbury store with part-time employees. Did i miss anything?
    Ish1, maximum12, JMN44 and 2 others like this.
  35. MNBeer1017

    MNBeer1017 Devotee (464) Mar 27, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Still laughable

    Expand your business without asking for handouts dont care how you spin it
  36. Stimulus199

    Stimulus199 Initiate (181) Dec 11, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader


    To our loyal followers - unfortunately, we've had to hire individuals to sell you beer at our stores. This is the unfortunate reality of running a business, as robot technology has not yet progressed to the point of our being able to facilitate automated, labor-cost-free beer sales.

    Our crowd-funding campaign was created because we want to make a lot more money selling you beer at additional locations.

    This pursuit of an expanded market share, and additional revenue, is why we're soliciting donations from you, our loyal customers. Please note, however, that there will be no real benefit attached to your donation.

    For those who have taken issue with the various incentives for donations, we'd be happy to entertain suggestions for bumper stickers, pins, and other relatively valueless items that we can use to incent you to donate.
  37. mkhartnett

    mkhartnett Disciple (350) Oct 27, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Star Tribune had that beer finder. Maybe they can replace a few guys with that. Just throw a beard on a computer and it's good to go.
  38. nate1152

    nate1152 Initiate (0) Mar 27, 2014

    Beer has low margins. As a "specialty beer store" FF is not privy to enjoy margins from sales of liquor and wine.

    Perhaps a change to the business model would be a more proper way to raise funds for your new location? You can still be a destination beer store, but with products that can help turn a profit...
    denali55421 likes this.
  39. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (3,451) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for showing up, but the long post isn't terribly illuminating. There is still no excuse for "holding" beer for people who are willing to throw money at you. It's an appalling, anti-community precedent, & the Firkins should be ashamed of itself.

    I'm sure they won't miss me, but the Firkins has permanently lost this customer.
  40. 4four4

    4four4 Initiate (0) Apr 27, 2007 Minnesota


    What has he done to deserve his expertise?
    JMN44 and McRyan like this.
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