​Should You Self Distribute to National Chains?​

National retailers ​in your home market ​don’t want to miss out on a great local brand. If you are established and looking to grow in chain retail but can self-distribute to your local retailers, go ahead and do it, said Firestone Walker‘s John Byrne.

“They’re all super fearful of losing market share to other retailers within their footprint,” said the brewery’s Director of National Accounts during the 2022 Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis. “They’re gonna want your brand within the set of stores that makes sense.”

Byrne, along with Odell Senior National Accounts Manager Billy Clayton added that the Colorado brewery still self-distributes in northern Colorado to some chains and shared insights to making it work and be successful.

​”I think the best thing to do for self-distribution is really understanding what specific stores you should be in​,” Clayton said. “I think there’s a handful of Kroger’s in Larimer County that we know should carry every single one of our brands. Every time we submit, we always highlight that ​in ​these seven stores​ — where ​we self-distribute​ — ​ we do think they should have everything. ​

“It’s worth really being an expert in knowing the chain, knowing the stores. Go into those stores and make sure that there’s a big enough set​. If ​they only have like a 20-foot set​, maybe it doesn’t make sense for you.​”

READ MORE: Should You Self-Distribute?

There are different classifications​ of​ retailers that have different clusters.​ Find those out, he noted. Is it a high-scale store, ​or a ​high-volume store? Ask those questions from ​places like ​Kroger or Walmart, just to make ​the best ​sense of ​your brand​.

“I would just make sure you know: A​,​ What brands you want. Be realistic, maybe one or two to start. And making sure those stores make sense for you.​”​

​Added Byrne: “​I would say to go into those stores that make sense and talk to the store personnel. They will get you in contact with the people that make the decisions.​ If you’re in those stores and you’re developing those relationships, you’re gonna get that information and even if you are self-distributed, you can certainly find out the contact information you need to go ahead and try to secure that business.”

Photo courtesy Odell Brewing

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