Monday, June 30, 2008

Trading 101

Wants/Gots:

Fill out your wants and gots. If you come across a beer you “want” or “got”, simply use the add feature found in the upper right hand corner of the right margin. You do not actually have to have the beers you put on your Gots list. As long as they are readily available at your liquor store, then they’re fair game. Only put beers you are willing to trade on your list. Remember to keep these lists as updated as possible. The closer you are to having 100 wants and 100 gots will definitely help all parties involved. Remember, your Wants/Gots will be purged from the system after they are over 6 months old if you are an active user, and after 60 days of inactivity. Taking the time to update after trades, or at least every 5 months will save you trouble later on (Todd has hinted that he may make updates easier in the future).

Setting up a trade:

There are basically four ways to get involved in a trade:
1. Wait for someone to contact you
2. Figure out who has the beers you want and contact them with an offer.
3. Post a FT (For Trade). List what you have for trade in the title. Repeat what you have for trade in the body of the thread and include what you would like in return plus any other information you care to add.
4. Post an ISO (In Search Of). List what you are looking for in the title of the thread and repeat in the body. Also include what you hope to get in return.

Keep in mind, most traders like to do dollar for dollar trades. However, rarity of a beer will most likely influence the trading value.

Most traders try to take the first reasonable offer for a beer. Generally it is in poor taste to hold out for bigger offers. If someone offers what you wanted, make the trade. If you are not getting the offers you want, then by all means do not trade until you do. This however is not an official rule. It is YOUR beer, and you may do what you wish with it.

For a first time trader, it is wise to try to make a deal with an experienced trader. They can offer suggestions and answer questions along the way. You will almost entirely eliminate the chance of getting stiffed. If you do enter a trade with an experienced trader, expect to ship first. We basically all started that way. Although I do not recommend two first time traders trading with each other, there have been several success stories. You just are taking a much larger risk. Once a trade has been agreed upon, it is wise to not only exchange mailing addresses, but also a phone number and e-mail address. The key to successful trade is communication. If it is difficult to get in touch with your trading partner or to get info from them, you will be less likely to trade with that person again. We all like to know things are running smooth, but don't over do it either. Quick updates on the status of the trade, notifications of delays for whatever reasons, and confirmation of delivery are all important.

Extras:

When packaging your beers, it is always nice to throw in some extras. This however is not a requirement, and no one expects it. Do not feel that you have to add extras if you do not want to. If you do add extras, it is nice if you can fill a traders wants. Otherwise it is common practice to put in regional brews. If filling wants list items is not possible, it is a good idea to check their gots as well as reviews to ensure you are not resending an item they have had or can easily get. This is just a suggestion, no one will be upset if they recieve something they already have simply because it is an extra.

Packaging:

When putting your shipment together, remember to wrap each bottle in some sort of padding. The material used most often is bubble wrap. Although I’ve heard some people use as much as 2 feet of bubble wrap, I find that going once around the bottle is plenty. One trader has recommended securing the bubble wrap with stretch film which can be purchased at any Staples etc. Though I've never used it, it certainly would leave the bubble wrap in better condition than tape for reuse. Some traders like to put the beers inside plastic bags to prevent a broken bottle from leaking. Unless the beer is wrapped in something thick like a t-shirt, it will probably just cut the bag anyway. I find it is not necessary, if the beers are packaged right you have nothing to worry about.

Line the box you will use with balled up newspaper. I’ve found that as little as 1inch all the way around works well enough for most shipments. I have received packages with as much as 4 or 5 inches of paper on the bottom though. Package the beers in the center of the box, they should basically be suspended in the box. This will help keep the beers from damage should the box be dropped from a short height or slightly punctured. The beers can also be separated by pieces of cardboard. This will provide enough barriers to keep the bottles from breaking should the bubbles pop. After sending and receiving a few shipments, you’ll get a feel for just how much or little you need to do to have your beers arrive safe. Don’t be afraid to over do it, packaging materials don’t add that much to the overall weight. Remember though, the weight of the box, as well as the length, width, and height all affect the price of shipping.

Added 12/9/2008: A thought occured to me today as I packaged up 3 boxes of beer this morning. Being that it is now December, the shipping company's will have an increased volume of packages. I don't have the data, I'm just assuming and odds are this is a pretty good guess. Anyway, I decided to pack extra well and even up the sizes of my boxes just a little bit. Here's my reasoning: With increased volume going through the shipping company's for the holidays, they are no doubt running quickly at full capacity. Give a bunch of fragile boxes to guys working extra hours for the holidays at full pace to meet deadlines, and you've got breakages on your hands. My advice...Consider the time of year you are shipping. If it's during the holiday season you might want to go ahead and over pack your boxes for safety and peace of mind. If your box can fall off the back of the truck, then you've packed well.

Shipping:

As far as shipping goes, there are a few options. DO NOT use the United States Postal Service (USPS). Shipping beers without a license is illegal, and the federal government frowns on it. It is best to use UPS or FedEx. You will find that most of the members have a preferred shipper, and I use FedEx. All of the shipping services we use have broken many packages and delivered even more, so no one is really better than the other. I would recommend creating an online account with FedEx. This way you can just input the shipping information and print off the shipping label. Do not worry if you don’t know the weight of your package, the shipper will fix it and bill you the correct amount. If you go this route, you just take your finished packages to a drop off site and hand it over with no questions asked. If you go through a storefront, the employees will probably ask you what is in the package, and it generally costs more. If you do go through a storefront, remember to double check the address after they print the label. I have heard stories of incorrect shipping info due to a clerical error on more than one occassion.

In case you're wondering more about the cost benefit of an online account, I’ll give you an example: Before I had an online account, FedEx wanted to charge me $60 to send a 35lb box from St. Louis to San Francisco. It was going to take a week to get there. I started my account and shipped using that instead. It only cost me $29 to ship this same package and it only took 4 days. For reference, I live outside of St. Louis Missouri, which is just about the center of the U.S. From here it is a 4 day ship to California, and a 3 day ship to Maine. It is a 2 day ship from here to Minnesota, or here to Texas. Basically, most shipments should land within the week. Also, most packages will cost roughly $10 - $30 to ship.

Side note: Many traders like to ship out at the beginning of the week. You will have to work out the details with your partner. However, for the most part traders do not like packages sitting in warehouses over the weekend (especially in extreme heat or cold depending on the time of year). It's not a rule, but something to consider.

What about broken packages?

Should your package break during transit, be delivered to the wrong address, or go missing before reaching your recipient then it is YOUR responsibility to replace that package. As soon as the package is "Delivered" (assuming it's the correct address) it is no longer your fault should something happen to the package. Should you choose to not replace a broken or misdelivered package, consider your trading career over.

Keep in mind, it is against the rules to ship alcohol with all of the providers. As a result, if a package breaks, UPS/FedEx may or may not deliver the remains. It will often depend on who the supervisor is, and how far the package is. If the package was damaged on the truck waiting to be delivered, they will probably rebox and deliver it the next day. If it is damaged as soon as it reaches the first facility, you can bet it's coming back to you. Although we know of no incidents yet, they can fine you a substantial amount of money. All that is just to say, package well so you don't have to worry about it!

Legal Age:

Lastly, it is your responsibility to ensure the person you trade with is of age. You can choose to have an adult signature required upon delivery for your package. However, most traders do not use this option. It is definitely a hastle as most of us are not home during the day. If you are requiring an adult signature, inform your trading partner prior to shipping. In most cases, signature service is unecessary.

International Shipping Tips (Compliments of BA grub):

http://biergotter.org/intltips.shtml

Common BeerAdvocate Abbreviations/Acronyms:

AB: Anheuser Busch OR Stone Arrogant Bastard
APA: American Pale Ale
AS: Angels’ Share

ATM: At the moment
BA: BeerAdvocate OR Barrel Aged OR Black Albert (less common)
BBCS: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

BBQ: Boulevard's Bourbon Barrel Quad
BCS: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
BIF: Beer It Forward (more info here:
http://beertraders.bravehost.com/BIFfaq.htm )
BM: Beer Mail
BMC: Bud/Miller/Coors
CdT: Cuvee de Tomme
CL: Captain Lawrence

D Day: Darkness Day
DB: Stone's Double Bastard
DFH: Dogfish Head
DL: Three Floyds Dark Lord

DLD: Dark Lord Day
DOAB: Tyranena Devil Over A Barrel
FBS: Founders Breakfast Stout
FFF: Three Floyds
FT: For Trade
FW: Firestone Walker

FWIW: For what it's worth
GABF: Great American Beer Fest (Takes place every year in Denver, CO)
GD: Great Divide
GI: Goose Island
GIF: Growler It Forward
GL: Great Lakes Brewing Co.
HOTD: Hair Of The Dog

ICPP: Midnight Sun's Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter
IIRC: If I remember correctly
IMHO: In My Humble Opinion
IMO: In My Opinion
IPA: India Pale Ale
ISO: In Search Of
JP: Jolly Pumpkin
KBS: Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
KRE: Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock
KTG: Kate The Great
LA: Lost Abbey
LIF: Lottery It Forward
LNBA: Late Night Beer Advocates
MS: Midnight Sun Brewing

NBO: New BIF Opportunity ( I know i know, an acronym inside an acronym. It's out of control)
OAB: Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard
PA: Pale Ale
PBR: Pabst Blue Ribbon
PTE: Pliny The Elder
PTY: Pliny The Younger
RIS: Russian Imperial Stout
RR: Russian River
SA: Sam Adams

SFTO: Captain Lawrence Smoke from the Oak
SN: Sierra Nevada
SNPA: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
SC: Sexual Chocolate
ST: Southern Tier
TIF: Tournament it Forward
VE: Stone's Vertical Epic
Westy: Westvleteren
WWS: Dogfish Head World Wide Stout