Barley Mowat 

Members with Benefits

with one comment

A CAMRA card isn’t just a form of elitist ID that gains you access to the very upper echelons of society. Oh no, it also gets you special treatment at any number of high end establishments all around town. And by “special” I mean “the same as everyone else, only slightly cheaper.” It’s true, have a look.

And that list isn’t even complete. There are a few liquor stores missing (like Viti), and definitely a few establishments (like Sharkey’s), although I expect the PHP error barfed in the middle of the page might have something to do with that. But, whatever, PHP is hard and the site admins have drinking to do!

A cat sys admin is a lot less cute when you realize the cat has been pissed since, like, 8am.

Usually when I show people that list I get a confused look back, and then the question: “Wait… you get 10% off BEER? At a liquor store?” They get the restaurant discount (sorta), but the discount on booze at LRSs flummoxes them completely. It took me a while to get used to the idea myself, but happily yes, several stores that carry good beer have decided the exposure they get via CAMRA is worth 10%, in addition to deciding that CAMRA is an organization worthy of their support.

Also, it should be noted that a CAMRA buyer is an educated and high value buyer. This is not a person who will give your store the shaft to save $2 on a 12-er of Corona. That guy is a jerk. In addition to buying elsewhere based on price alone, he doesn’t even have enough common decency to buy a high margin beer. The margin on Corona is less than 10% precisely because these guys are so price sensitive. But our CAMRA guy isn’t.

No siree, a CAMRA buyer is a person that will purchase 6 bottles of high-end beer at $10-$20 per bottle, and then come back next week to do it again. You want this person in your store as often as possible, even if you have to give them 10% off.

Sure, you’re not making as much on that bottle of Central City Double IPA from the CAMRA guy as you do from the next bastard buying that same bottle, but the CAMRA guy also bought 5 more bottles. Even if the profit on the bottle is lower, the profit per transaction is higher. And so long as your product keeps moving out the door you don’t have to worry too much about inventory. Also, Mr CAMRA might have grabbed some of that $30 Deschutes Stoic you’ve been having trouble moving.

So, it’s all good, right? The store gets more profit and can stock more interesting beer without worrying about it stealing shelf space, and our fictional bearded CAMRA guy can buy lots of interesting beer and write about it on his blog. Win/win.

Well, it’s fine and good until Corona-guy stands behind Mr CAMRA and sees him getting 10% off his beer purchase. Next week when SeƱor Corona buys his shitty beer and a bag of skunk-reducing limes, he’s brandishing a brand new CAMRA card and asking for that sub-10% profit margin on his awful alco-pop to be dropped straight into loss territory.

And then this happens.

The first time I saw this sign at Viti I thought it was a bit of a joke until manager Ralf told me that this is exactly what has been happening*. I was shocked to hear this had been happening, but ultimately not very surprised when I thought about it. To be clear: I 100% support Viti limiting the discount to craft beer. Heck, I even suggested that they confiscate offenders’ membership cards.

The trick, though, is what IS craft beer? Yeah, we can all agree that those brands are not craft, but what about other very large brewers? What about Guinness? Leffe? Chimay? Granville Island? Some of those are pretty big breweries producing mass market beers.

Each store can come up with their own list, and we could decide if the store had gone too far by voting with our wallets, but perhaps CAMRA should create an exception list for membership discounts? Because let’s face it, if you’re buying Molson you probably shouldn’t have the card in the first place.

* Aside from the margin numbers. Those smell like ass because that’s where I pulled the numbers out of. Well, they’re not entirely made up; they are a decent guestimate based off my experience with importer and LRS pricing.

Written by chuck

June 6th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with ,

One Response to 'Members with Benefits'

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  1. Interestingly enough though, pretty sure the LDB has a rule about offering particular groups of people discounts. I’m fairly certain that any ‘discount or sale has to be offered to any customer’. At least when I worked at a private LRS that was the BCLDB rule…
    So although I think it is awesome to limit it to only craft beer & define what that includes, wouldn’t want some customer to make problems for people because they couldn’t get 10% on their crappy macro-brews. Better to not advertise it in store at all…


    7 Jun 12 at 11:11

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