From pulling teeth to
Haines opened beer store after
working in the dental field
Jeffrey Haines, owner of Brewers Connection in Tempe,
Arizona, did not start his brewing life under the best of conditions.
year was 1999, and Haines bought the homebrew store for
"pennies" after it had gone through bad times under a previous
ownership. Brewing was in something of a downturn, not just at his new
store but also in Tempe as a whole.
"It was getting to the point where when you said
the word homebrew, people would turn away," Haines recalled.
Haines had a pretty good idea how he could improve
things. He began homebrewing at age 15 using Pabst Blue Ribbon malt and
bread yeast ("I donít know how we drank that stuff") but
eventually gravitated to more sophisticated ingredients.
He knew the best way to get people to brew again is
to help them make great beer. "If they taste their beer and enjoy
it, chances are great theyíll brew again. Unfortunately the opposite
is also true," he said.
So Haines focused on teaching brewing as well as
selling supplies. He places special attention on those who have never
brewed before, starting them out on easy recipes and gradually helping
them step up to more complex and more interesting ingredients and beers.
He has his new homebrewers bring in their creations,
and he isnít shy about telling them what they might have done wrong.
He invites customers over to his store for occasional tastings and hosts
brewing demonstrations every other Saturday.
He takes other measures as well. When he took over
the store there was about $5,000 worth of inventory. Today he stocks
$20,000 worth of the highest-quality goods (see sidebar), making it
likely that the most discerning homebrewer will be able to find what he
or she needs.
The results speak volumes. Revenue has more than
doubled in three years.
While he counts himself fortunate today to be running
the business, he never would have started if not for a personal tragedy.
He spent 18 years in the dental industry as an equipment technician
before his company went bankrupt.
Soon, however, he turned tragedy into triumph by
buying and building the shop into an example others may well want to
Connection is a full service retail store that specializes in the
sale of homebrewing equipment, including beer, wine and soda making
supplies, kegging equipment and parts, clothing, and glassware. Contact
them at Brewers Connection Inc., 1425 E. University Dr., Suite 10,
Tempe, AZ 85281, (480) 449-3720, (800) 879-BREW.