Lately, there have been a lot of views expressed about The Beer Store (TBS), the multi-nationals that own it, the profits that leave with them and the costs involved to you their walk up customer, and us, the licensee customer. My question below will be about how much would you miss them if for example, we did not offer TBS product?
A lot of this discussion is centred around the corner stores selling beer, and the response from TBS, and more likely, from the union that protects TBS jobs. They focus on ID and the fact that the youth will basically run asunder without the safety of TBS stores. You may have been part of a discussion on Facebook or Twitter or commented on stories in local media and such. You may also have noticed comments about the cost of beer- off the top of my head, a case of Blue for you? $29, for me, $45. A keg of Blue runs me about $230…in Detroit Michigan? $110 for a keg brewed 2 miles away from me. I come at this from a different perspective than many as I have been a licensee since 1991 and for me, as much as I think the costs are inflated, the issue is more of service.
TBS itself is owned by the parent companies of Labatt (48.5%), Molson (48.5%) and Sleeman (3%). The cost of doing business with TBS sometimes means that smaller brewers will not list in many outlets- it might be worth it for them in Toronto for example, but maybe not in London, so our selection is limited. At the same time, even though my LCBO might carry a product, I cannot purchase said product from them because it has a TBS sku- even though my warehouse has none, nor will they carry the product for me, so it means that I am S.O.L as they say (or did in the 60’s). The Beer Store also charges for delivery- with minimum orders, they waive it, but they still charge a fuel surcharge each and every time. If you want another order, money- if you want to pick up from the depot, limited hours and always a wait. It would be great as we do with many craft brewers, to purchase on credit card- they allow nothing like that. They dictate delivery- not so bad at times, but they do not do so with the customer in mind. They used to have a thing called Service on Tap- actually, never mind, that is far too long of a discussion. They also have a restocking fee, or even worse, as was the case this week, a 75% refund on any returned product- what gets me though on this one (again, this week) is that their product was faulty. The seal was chipped- gouged really- so that we could not actually get any beer out of the keg that they gave us just the week prior- a $318 purchase, we get only $251 back. Imagine if any other company you deal with offered up the same? With the way Twitter lights up when a pizza takes 35 minutes as opposed to 30, or a wait at the bank is more than three minutes long…imagine any other business doing their business in this way? Three weeks in a row we were told that they would be delivering a certain beer- three weeks in a row, that did not happen- no apologies, no trying to fix the issue, no communication at all. the litany of issues and excuses is long- and I think, the more I write, my question gets answered!
As usual, I digress, apologies. This was basically going to be a post about you and I got off track as I always do when talking about both the TBS and the LCBO- and me wanting to know if you thought that it would matter to you if we had no TBS draught- for us, this would mean no Keith’s, Stella, Bud Light, Blue, Keith’s Galaxy and 50. I would still be able to go and get cases- at my leisure, not at the whim of the TBS. It would also mean 16 taps of local or craft beer, plus Waupoos and Guinness. For example, Bud Light would be something like Flying Monkees AntiGravity, a really good light beer, or maybe Duggan’s #5 Sorachi Ale which we sell so much of in the beauty of the patio season. Keith’s might be Lake of Bays Pale Ale or Black Oak Pale Ale. So many options…would it matter, would you miss them? I think my stress levels would go down as it seems to be every Friday that TBS does something that makes me wonder how they remain in business- oh yes, that monopoly thing! or at best, oligopoly! And not a benevolent oligopoly. Less stress for me might mean a better customer experience for you! Unless you are a diehard macro draught only beer drinker!
So please dear reader, let me know your thoughts. My mind is 95% of the way there, you control the other 5%
(update: This is not about Labatt at all!! When people ask us what local beer we have, we started off jokingly saying Labatt, but really, with the jobs they create in our city, taxes etc, they are a great company and needed. The beer is always consistent and it is good beer- I am a 50 guy and enjoy it a lot- this is about TBS, but the only way we can get Labatt beer is from the TBS ergo, lack of Labatt draught if we do make the change)
Update! It has begun. We will see how long it lasts as we will see what the people that frequent us think, but our last Blue and Keith’s were poured yesterday. Have a look at our draught list and look for the changes, or if you don’t like reading, check out Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/morrisseyhouse/draught-beer/ for the visual list!