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What is needed to get started as a distributor?

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  • What is needed to get started as a distributor?

    As usual the information the federal and local governments provide is sparse. I'm looking around and trying to figure out what is necessary to become a small distributor to my local breweries. I'm in CT and locally there has been a huge boom in breweries lately (seems like we were a bit behind trend for the rest of the country in the boom, particularly compared to neighbors like VT and MA). There were a few here before but suddenly it seems to be an every day occurrence that something new is opening. I'd love to strike while the iron is hot and start making contacts with these new breweries and be ready to help the distribute when they get to that stage in the next year or so.

    That said can someone that's been through the process give me a thumbnail sketch of what needs to be done in terms of permits, licenses, inspections, etc to get going? To be honest just knowing the name of each permit would be a great start so that I can more easily Google the answers. First and foremost I'd be interested in helping get the small guys on tap at local bars and restaurants and later work on bottles and cans into stores.

    I do have cash available for permits, startup costs and whatnot. Would basically be interested in getting in at a smaller footprint to limit my own risk and then putting more of my cash up shortly after if things are going well.

  • #2
    Cory from Black Pond here (Danielson, CT).
    We self distribute and much of what is required of us will be the same for you, with a different permit.

    Here's the application for the state permit:

    Appears to be structured much like the manufacture permit.
    First, you'll need to scope out a location or two and talk with your town's P&Z to make sure that you've selected a viable location.
    Once you and P&Z agree, secure your location and sign a lease.
    Apply for a TTB basic permit.
    you'll upload site plans, company information, get a tax bond, etc etc. Your agent will let you know what revisions you need to make. Anticipate a 4-6 month wait period.
    Then you'll apply to the state, meeting the requirements included in the application linked above.
    You'll need bonds for both federal and state. I can direct you to someone who can help you with that, and who can help you with insurance as well. Feel free to PM me with questions about this if you have them.

    Get to know the forms you'll fill out (excise tax specifically) on a monthly or quarterly basis. As you mentioned, there's no step-by-step for doing any of this anywhere so you're gonna have to do your research.

    It's a lengthy process in a difficult market. Best of luck
    Last edited by wlw33; 11-07-2016, 01:37 PM.


    • #3

      Thanks for your help, that's a good start for me to start looking into it. Will check back in here if I have any specific questions.

      Ps- Will have to come check your place out the next time I'm out in the quiet corner. Hadn't heard of you guys yet, this proves of course my point that there are places springing up everywhere!