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  1. A
    March 29, 2020 @ 5:49 pm

    I have a craft beer shop in the Atlanta area, and I just wanted to comment on a couple of things: First, at least in Georgia, until a few days ago unemployment benefits were only available to folks who had been let go, not to folks who are out of jobs because of a City, State or Federal shut down (when they’re considered furloughed). So what has happened here is a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, etc have preemptively let their employees go so that they can collect unemployment instead of waiting until the order comes down and their employees get screwed.
    Second, there is pretty much no market for kegs right now. Distributors are discounting them (we’re pretty hard-core three-tier system here) so if that’s happening here, I can only imagine what has happened in other areas where the shut-downs started well before ours. So, you’re talking entire regions that are no longer picking up kegs, and not much use for them in the tap-rooms for the foreseeable future. I see this as pragmatic more than alarming. We shut down our growler and by the glass service two weeks ago and aside from the odd sixtel for kegerator owning customers, haven’t purchased a keg in that time. Doesn’t look like we will for the foreseeable future either. So, as small businesses I can see the sense in getting those off the books sooner rather than later, even at cost or less, just to slow the bleeding. For example, if AleSmith’s entire keg distribution dries up, and it reaches out as far as us in Georgia, I can see that being a big enough chunk of revenue to cause concern. Businesses, in general, aren’t incentivized to build up huge cash reserves but are incentivized to grow by leveraging their assets to do it. So right now we’re all doing the math to see how long we can scrape by before things start heading towards normal and doing whatever we can to make that math work.
    All that said, I do think the odds of a dramatic reduction in breweries increases the longer these social distancing measures go on, especially if they can’t pivot to a point where they can tread water for a while or unless some of the owners are ready to reinvest capital back into a business that maybe wasn’t doing that great to begin with. Many mediocre breweries won’t make it, and maybe shouldn’t, and the tap-room model of success seems much less viable.
    Finally, don’t buy your beer (or wine or booze) from grocery stores please. Most of those huge monster employers that are cleaning up now off of fear-hoarding don’t pay sick time to their employees, contributing to spread (and being generally dickish.) They have also lobbied to get out of the requirements of the first COVID bill that now requires employers with less than 500 employees to pay the aforementioned sick time.
    If you still have a job, make sure to support your favorite restaurants, breweries, and retailers. Consider buying a gift card and resist the urge to spend it until you know that business is doing ok again. This is going to be a long haul for so many of your favorite places to hang out.


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