Two of the many things that Columbus residents love are craft beers and cocktails and handmade, local goods. One local company has found the perfect intersection between the two, carefully crafting luxury consumer barwares.
With a growing number of breweries and distilleries like Brother’s Drake, Oyo and Watershed “There hasn’t been a consumer goods barware company that really compliments that kind of trend,” says Al’s Bar Supply Co-Founder Zach Pappas.
Pappas and other Co-Founder Alex Calfee decided to fill that niche, launching Al’s Bar Supply in early 2013. The company makes luxury bar goods like hand-cut and polished glasses made from reclaimed beer bottles, stainless steel shot glasses and coasters, and unique solid brass bottle openers machined from one solid piece of metal.
All products and hand-designed, hand-made and produced locally. “It was important to us to really source and work with local, Columbus-based manufacturers,” Pappas says. From Columbus, to Ohio to the Midwest, the duo sees no reason to go outside the region to create their specialties.
The hand-crafted nature of their product line has created some unique challenges for the business. Pappas says that the upfront cost of having items in-stock is relatively high compared to other businesses so they complete ample market research before committing to a new product. From a supplier standpoint, the duo is working to coordinate schedules with other small business owners and manufacturers, knowing that they don’t exist for their development purposes alone. However, at the end of the day, the company is sharply focused on doing something well versus doing it quickly.
Al’s Bar Supply wants to see their goods popping up in home bars across Columbus. “Right now the target audience is individual folks that have home bars,” Pappas says. The products are also popular with bartenders and people who brew their own beers, “They put a lot of care and craft into what they are trying to do,” Calfee says.
Reception for what the duo describes as the attainable luxury goods has been positive. “It’s really kind of cool to see the reception that we’re getting and the different kinds of demographics that are purchasing the products,” Pappas says. But a few demographics do stick out. “The strongest reception they have gotten is from folks that are really engaged downtown,” Calfee says. He describes them as folks that are builders that appreciate handmade goods. Another unique group of customers has been females trying to find the perfect gift for their significant other with high-end taste.
Al’s Bar Supply doesn’t see the craft beverage trend and culture – or their target market – going anywhere.
“You’ve got this influx every year of young people into Columbus through the universities,” Calfee says, creating a group of young, well-educated, affluent consumers.
Also, the duo sees residents engaging with the city and the culture of the city. “A big part of that is a cocktail scene [and] a bar scene,” Calfee says, finding a lot of people want to take that vibe home with them. And home is where people want to be. They find that people want to spend more time at home, surrounded by nice things. “This is just a feather in that bird,” Pappas says.
The duo bonded and ultimately decided to form the company after meeting at work and realizing their shared affinity of craft cocktail culture. While out for a drink, they noticed how carefully curated the atmosphere of the bar was, but that they were holding a glass by a big-name store or the bar equipment was made by a nameless manufacture. “For some folks they want a story for the stuff that’s on their bar,” Calfee says.
For more information, visit alsbarsupply.com.