Hard work is the secret to success for Kevin and Cheryl Keuler, the couple who own and operate Brew & Grow in Spring Lake Park.
Maybe it’s not so secret. Kevin regularly shows up to work seven days a week and he’s kept up that pattern for 25 years.
Brew & Grow, a paradise for home brewers, winemakers and hydroponic and organic gardeners, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a customer appreciation event Sept. 28.
The couple opened up shop in Madison, Wis., in 1988. Kevin studied horticulture in school, so their products centered solely on the needs of hydroponic and organic gardeners at first.
It was not until they moved to Minnesota that home brewing, now 60 percent of their business, became part of their business plan.
“The whole home-brewing hobby is just exploding right now,” Kevin said. But in 1990, it was not as trendy.
A friend and former-partner of Kevin’s suggested that he try brewing his own beer. He was skeptical, but it turned out to be relatively simple.
New customers bring that same skepticism to Brew & Grow when they walk in the door. “There’s a lot of hand-holding that goes on when people first come in,” Kevin said. He reassures them that they can do it, and often, they keep coming back.
“It’s definitely exciting to see the children of our customers from 20 years ago now picking up the hobby,” Cheryl said.
Six years ago, in need of more space, Brew & Grow moved from Fridley to its current address, 8302 Highway 65, Spring Lake Park.
Now the business needs even more room, Cheryl said, but there are no immediate plans to expand. The owners are always thinking about growing their business, even to multiple locations, something customers request from time to time, Cheryl said. Because the Keulers are so hands-on, those thoughts are usually fleeting with too few hours in the day.
Customers primarily come from around the north metro to shop, Cheryl said.
It’s more of a winter hobby, so Minnesota is the place to be in business, she said. The store’s busy season is from September to May.
Brew & Grow’s most popular item may be the beer kits assembled on site, said Kevin, who spends most of his day on the floor with customers. Cheryl keeps more to the office, handling the accounts, marketing, etc. The couple employ seven others at the store.
The two work so often that they rarely find time to brew beer themselves, Cheryl said. But they drink plenty when customers bring in samples of their latest creations. “We don’t have to do the work; we just get to enjoy the outcomes,” she said.
The customers are at the heart of their business, according to the Keulers.
Owen Strand has been shopping at Brew & Grow for about 15 years, he said. He goes almost every week, sometimes just to visit, not to buy. “I get to know the people there,” he said, calling the entire staff very helpful.
“We like to build relationships with our customers,” Cheryl said.
As a member of the Rum River WortHogs home-brew club, based in Anoka, Strand likes to visit a variety of brew stores. He could name three in the metro area. There used to be about 20, Strand said, but most have gone out of business. Brew & Grow has stuck around.
In fact, Cheryl said that during the financial crisis in the late 2000s, business prospered. “It’s a hobby and it’s not a very expensive hobby,” so when people were out of work, they had more time to devote to brewing, she said.
“We’ve been very blessed to get through those rough patches,” Cheryl said.
Brew & Grow is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Olivia Koester is at firstname.lastname@example.org