I thought I would give a quick overview of Binny’s Beverage Depot.  Binny’s controls the majority of beer sales in the Chicago region.  Binny’s became the top dog after buying up Sam’s, their main competition.  Writing a review of Binny’s is like like trying to sum up every beer you ever drank in one post, there are just too many stores to lump together.  Binny’s has a number of locations which you can find here.

The locations vary in selection and quality, and I want to say up front I have not visited all the locations.  I find the downtown location too difficult to navigate the skinny aisles, lots of people and a parking lot that makes you feel like a contortionist.  The other locations offer better parking and selections.  When you are buying several cases at a time parking is critical.  I find Anthony Gerdt of the the Glen Ellyn location to be the most helpful.  The beer manager at North Avenue is also pretty good, and the guy out in Downers Grove knows some obscure brewery reps resulting in some good choices.  The South Loop location has a bar which can score you a taste before you buy.

Most chains have a great deal of consistency.  Locations are normally similar and so are the policies.  However, each Binny’s seems to be physically laid out completely different so if you decide to swing into an unfamiliar location it may take a moment to get your bearings.  Additionally, and I wrote about this before, Binny’s cannot come up with a corporate policy on reserving beer.  It completely depends on who you talk to at the store.

One of my biggest issues with Binny’s is the complete lack of customer service from a corporate perspective.  Yes, they have their stars.  Some managers and stock clerks know how to treat a customer, but calling a store with a question will likely yield little help.  Ordering a beer for pickup through their website is a mixed bag.  The selection is often outdated.  I understand if a beer sold out that morning, but often summer beers are listed in the middle of winter as “in stock.”  Additionally, on more than one occasion I have put together a larger order (5-10) cases and showed up to find several of the beers unavailable at the location I am picking it up from.  I always place my orders 7-10 days in advance of my pick-up.  Why if they have delivery trucks running around do I need to go to two or three stores to get what I need?

My second major issue with Binny’s is if your not talking to the “beer manager” your screwed.  The staff often does not know what is on the shelves.  Just this week I asked the General Manager at the Skokie store for Hoptimum.  She dutifully looked around the store for it, and eventually asked another manager.  He said “oh that beer has not been released.”  It has been released and other stores have already sold out.  However, they did suggest Atomium however.

Finally, why is beer treated different than wine?  Wine drinkers get case discounts.  They also get a rebate of 2% on $500 in wine purchases.  This is the most offensive thing about Binny’s.  Beer moves better than wine.  I have been told the North Avenue location can move beer like nowhere else in the Midwest.  Why should I be treated differently?

Think I am not fair to them?  Then I challenge Binny’s to answer in the comments why they cannot get their act together.  The questions are:

  1. What is your reservation policy on beer?
  2. Why is beer ineligible for a case discount?
  3. Why can’t beer earn points like wine?



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  1. […] My Binny’s Beverage Depot review – a look at the chain as a whole. […]

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