In brewing world,
business laws still rule
Yes, being good to customers is important, Joel Rea
has learned during his eight years as a homebrew shop owner in Oregon.
And knowing as much as possible about beer and brewing also helps.
Rea also learned an important lesson recently one that business
people have discovered time and again since the dawn of commerce.
"Its all about location, location,
location," Rea said.
Rea moved his shop just three blocks, but his new
storefront is located in an area with more foot traffic. The store,
"Corvallis Brewing Supply," is now located on the leisure side
of Corvallis, near department stores, eateries and a movie house, among
"There are things for people to do other than
just going to a homebrew shop," Rea said.
After the move, business shot up 45 percent, Rea
It was a nice turn of events for someone who has
devoted most of a decade to the brewing world. Rea, now 36, started the
shop for the same reasons that a lot of people get into the business _
it was fun. He first started brewing after getting a starter kit as a
He had worked in the past for the Forest Service and
was finishing a degree of fine arts in photography. But the thought of
working for other people was not inspiring.
So he spent a year looking for a place that would be
appropriate for a homebrewing supply store. Some told him not to go to a
place with less than one million residents. He eventually settled on
Corvallis, a town of about 60,000 that is close to where he grew up.
Despite the citys modest size, it has many
advantages for Rea. It is a college town with a large population of
educated young people. The town also has a major Hewlett Packard plant.
In addition, the folks in Corvallis, like in many
smaller communities, like to make their own things. "They are not
hippies, but they are `close to the ground. They are self-sufficient,
they like making their own things like jam and beer."
And they like asking questions. Despite the
occasional question like "Can homebrew kill you?" (no) and
"can I make a Bud light?" (why?), Rea has been peppered with a
lot of queries from knowledgeable brewers. In the beginning it was not
always easy answering the questions.
"I didnt know as much as I thought I knew
about brewing. And I had to learn a lot more about winemaking and soda
making, even including things like cheese and vinegars. There is a lot
of learning that I had to do. I had to become much more of an expert
than I believed I was," he said.
By concentrating on customer service, his business
quickly overtook the other two shops in town that sold brewing supplies.
In fact he eventually bought one out.
He thinks others can duplicate his success, although
in smaller towns they might have to resort to selling other items
besides just homebrewing supplies. And it might help if they learn that
all-important business lesson:
Location, location, location.
Supply is located at 464 S.W. Madison Ave, Corvallis, Oregon, 97330. The
phone number is (541) 578-1674.