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March 18, 2013

Kenmore's KegWorks expands business, offers retail store

KENMORE — When it comes to drinking, customers across the globe can get pretty much everything but the alcohol at KegWorks.

For the past 15 years the Kenmore-based company has operated an entirely online business selling cocktail ingredients and supplies, home beer-making kits, and kegerators, but all that changed last week when founder and president David Rivers launched his first retail store at 1460 Military Road.

Now in addition to the online business, Western New Yorkers have a place to go if they want to do a little browsing for their home bar needs.

“People started finding (our warehouse), walking in the front door, saying, “I need this ... I need that,’ ” Rivers said. “We never turned them down.”

But KegWorks’ catalog of some 1,600 items was not on full display in its warehouse-based operation. Customers “could never see anything else,” Rivers said.

“Once (customers) see the variety in here (it’ll be) the typical kid in a candy store reaction,” he said of the new store.

Rivers, along with a staff of about 50 employees, took over the vacant Mr. Seconds Bargain Outlet building on the corner of Military Road and Sheridan Drive — in the same lot as the KegWorks warehouse — and for about a year have been planning and prepping the space with a retail design company in Portland, Ore.

“Where do you start?” Rivers asked, gesturing to the retail space as workers put finishing touches on displays and scrubbed down the new floors. “There were concrete walls, concrete floors ... there was nothing here.”

Now nearly everything KegWorks sells — other than some of the more commercial equipment — can be found in the store, including draft equipment, a large selection of cocktail bitters, glasswear and specialty sodas.

And they’ll be adding more, Rivers and CEO Tom McManus said.

“This is just the skeleton right now,” Rivers said. “This is a great laboratory for the website ... we can test things here. We can finally talk to customers and find out what they’re doing with stuff, ask them, ‘What are you doing with those empty bottles?’ ”

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