BeerTools Spotlight on Homebrew Supplier Bill Wible

March 9, 2003 at 6:10pm


What's it like to own a homebrew shop?

Its harder work than most people seem to think. You don’t just sit around all day waiting for customers, and dream up beer recipes, read brewing books or magazines, or brew in between. There is a lot of planning that goes into running this type of business. There are orders to be put together and placed, trucks to be unloaded, merchandise to be put away, mail order to pack and ship, customers to wait on and talk to, and it seems the phone never stops ringing, which is a good thing!

Your job is to help people of all skill levels make beer and wine, or make it better. You have to enjoy working with people, because you do it all day. You have to answer a lot of questions, sometimes the same ones over and over. You're asked a lot of ingredient and techniques questions. You’re also often asked to solve problems or help figure out “what went wrong.” So you have to have good knowledge of the beer and wine making processes, and know your ingredients. Not just anybody can step in and run a homebrew shop. It requires a level of knowledge and expertise.

Because you’re not working for someone else, your income is not guaranteed. And you get no benefits--no paid time off, no life insurance, no health insurance, no company stock purchase plan, and no 401k or retirement plan. You don't get the safety and security you get from working for someone else. That came as a shock when it finally sank in.

But, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” On the plus side, you are the owner, president, CEO, whatever you want to call yourself. All the decisions are yours to make. You decide what to carry, who to deal with, how much to charge, and even what hours to be open. You can listen to the radio at work, and even wear your beer shirts to work. If the business does well, you have the satisfaction of knowing you did it all. If it fails, you're the only one to blame. It’s great being my own boss, and I don't think I'd ever want to work for
anyone else again.

Last October, my wife and I bought a new house in the suburbs outside of Philly, and I was driving a long distance. I found a shop for rent closer to home, in the Shops at Great Valley in Malvern, and we moved into it March 1st. I miss a lot of my old customers, but I really like the new location.

The new shop is bigger than the old one, and is in a strip mall, with a parking lot. My old shop was small, and had on street parking, with meters. The new shop is in a great area, and is much closer to my new home. The bigger store also allows me to carry more merchandise and offer a better selection, which is what running a store is really all about.


"It's not great brew, unless it's Brew By You!"

Brew By You
10 Liberty Boulevard
Suite A-7
Malvern, PA 19355