KENMORE — It was time to close up shop.
Tony Ochsnerspent a year trying to find a buyer for his business, Micro Homebrew.
There was plenty of interest in the Kenmore company but no takers, said the Edmonds resident.
Micro Homebrew sells home beer-making equipment from brew kettles to mash tuns, along with grain, hops and yeast — everything needed to brew beer, root beer or kombucha.
The store also carries wine-making and distilling equipment — not that distilling liquor is legal. Federal law prohibits individuals from producing distilled spirits at home. But there’s no law against distilling water at home.
An avid home brewer, Ochsner founded the business in 2014.
“I really wanted to see the store continue,” Ochsner said of his efforts to sell.
If it closed, it would be a loss to the brewing community, he said.
Snohomish County hobbyists, in particular, would face a trek to either South Seattle or Burlington, the nearest brew supply stores.
In 2021, the American Home Brewers Association called Micro Homebrew one of the best supply stores in the nation, Ochsner said.
He hoped to sell to a home brewing fanatic with business experience and the stamina to keep the doors open six or seven days a week.
It was a tall order.
With the lease up at the end of August and no prospects, Ochsner, 58, began the countdown to retirement.
As June wound down, he said his good-byes on the store’s Facebook page. He stopped restocking the shelves and rolled out weekly discounts to clear the shelves.
“Our attempts to find a buyer to keep Micro Home Brew going have come up short,” Ochsner wrote. “We have had a wonderful time and met so many great people.”
Plenty of businesses are for sale, but fewer than 30% find buyers, according to business experts.
A month ago, Corey DeJong stopped by to stock up on supplies and overheard Ochsner talking about his plan to close up shop.
The 39-year-old Shoreline resident has been making his own beer since he was a college student of legal age at Western Washington University in Bellingham, he said.
DeJong, who works in the trucking and railroad industries, always wanted to own a business.
It was in his genes, he said.
But what business was right for him?
DeJong didn’t have an answer for that, but over the years he’d socked away savings, should the right opportunity come along.
He paid for his supplies, hopped into the car and called his wife.
“I told her, ‘I think I want to buy this business,’” DeJong said.
His wife and family supported his decision. But he’d never worked retail, the shelves were nearly bare and the clock was ticking.
He had only a few days to decide.
On July 27, DeJong signed a purchase agreement and joined Ochsner at the store the next day to learn the ropes.
“He’s been here ever since he signed the papers,” Ochsner said.
DeJong had a month to register with the state, set up his corporation and negotiate a lease.
“It’s been a quick couple of weeks,” DeJong said. “It usually takes three weeks to a month to get a lease and I was like, ‘I need a lease in two days.’”
Mike Donow, of Monroe, is grateful for the quick save.
“I’ve been shopping here forever,” said Donow, hoisting a 15-pound bag of grain onto the counter. “I would have been crying on the doorstep if they’d closed. I’m glad it will keep going.”
Now, the rush is on to restock the shelves.
“Normally, I might get in one or two pallets a week,” Ochsner said. “We’ve been ordering six pallets a week.”
On Sept. 1, DeJong takes over. He hopes to add an e-commerce option to the mix.
“Tony has obviously built a great business here. My plan is to keep it going as is,” DeJong said.
With one change.
Ochsner’s house recipes are named after his dogs.
“It started with Peanut’s Pale Ale,” Ochsner said.
DeJong is keeping the dog theme, he said, but “the porter will have a picture of my dog, Porter.”