Because there are such low margins in the bar and nightclub business, finding the right bar suppliers is crucial to keeping costs down, staying regularly supplied and having quality product. From nightclub and bar uniforms to beer and wine, having the right bar suppliers makes all the difference in the long run.
Price is, of course, the number one consideration when it comes to your suppliers. You must do all you can to keep cost down, especially when you are first starting a bar or nightclub. But this is not and should not be the only consideration. There is usually a reason why one supplier offers bar supplies at so much lower than the usual rates.
Always be sure to check out the quality of the bar and nightclub supplies being offered. Sub-par quality will affect the overall customer experience which will come back to hurt you in the long run.
Bar Suppliers and Vendors
So what kind of suppliers do you need for your bar business?
- General Bar Supplies (Napkins to Straws): There is no shortage of suppliers that can get you the basics, from toilet paper to straws. The idea here is to try to buy in bulk and save on these costs. (You should also be sure to train your staff to avoid wasting your bar supplies unnecessarily.)
- Bar Glassware Suppliers : One of the recurring costs of owning any kind of bar or nightclub is the cost of replacing glassware. Breakages are just a fact of life when it comes to running a bar business. Find a bar glassware dealer that you like and try to establish a recurring relationship so that you can get your glassware at a discount.
- Alcohol Vendors: Depending on whether you are a simple Sports Bar or fully stocked bar that can serve everything from a dirty martini to a calypso (rum and coffee liquor), you may have one or more of these types of vendors. If you have beer on tap, look for distributers that also offer to clean the taps on delivery. This is often a free service and will save you the cost and hassle.
Tip from the Pros: A great way to make your bar or nightclub unique is to find local beer brewers or wineries and offer their products at your bar or nightclub. These days, independent brewers and wineries are popping up even in the least likely locations around the country. Creating alliances with these local establishments can be mutually beneficial and allow you to offer something your competitors might not.
- Bar Uniforms and Linens: If you have nightclub or bar uniforms, you will also need a vendor for these. Look for a bar uniforms vendor that also offers to launder your bar uniforms. This will save you the time and expense of doing so yourself. Having clean crisp uniforms every weak is vital if you want to succeed with an upscale wine bar or similar establishment.
The internet has made the job of finding and researching vendors much easier. These days you can simply do a search on bar supplies and find a number of vendors. You should be sure to always do your homework however, and comparison shop.
Be sure to be on the look-out for hidden costs and qualitative differences:
- Delivery Costs: Make sure you know how much delivery costs are. Many vendors will add the cost of delivery into the price they quote you while others will have a separate delivery charge added to the cost of your bar and nightclub supplies.
- Extra Services: Sometimes it is better to go with a slightly more expensive vendor when starting a bar, if that vendor supplies extra services that will save you money in the long run. For example, does your beer vendor offer free cleanings of your taps on delivery? Does the bar uniforms vendor offer cleaning services at a discount? Does the wine supplier offer Stemware at a discount. Always be on the lookout for these kinds of money saving add-ons.
- Selection: Does your glassware distributer actually have the kinds of glasses that you require for your establishment? Does the style fit your bar? Can you get a better match with another vendor?
- Delivery Schedule: Does the distributer deliver at a day and time that actually works for you. If you do not have much storage space and need bi-weekly deliveries, is it worth having a distributer that can only deliver once a week. If a distributer only delivers on Mondays when you are closed, do you really want to come in on your day off to receive delivery?
All of these should be considerations when choosing a distributer. Remember that managing a bar and keeping it supplied are the kind of boring, everyday decisions that will have a huge effect on your chances of success in the long run. Don’t take them for granted.
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