By Kyle Stucker
Hampton Union, May 1, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Top Shelf Brews in Hampton featues hundreds of local and foreign beers.
[Rich Beauchesne photo]
HAMPTON — After a popular local store announced it would close in June unless a buyer was found, an overwhelming number of residents and craft beer enthusiasts expressed concern the business would be radically different, if it survived at all.
Rye resident Chris Tynan said Tuesday those worries can be put to bed as he has officially purchased Top Shelf Brews from owner Sue Hutchinson.
Tynan, 33, has been a regular and passionate customer of the Route 1 store since he “fell in love” with it on the first day it opened in 2012. He said Hutchinson and Top Shelf have created something special for the area, and he doesn't want to change that.
“Rather than see it close, I'd rather it stay open and keep it being a part of the craft beer community,” Tynan said. “I love Top Shelf for what it is. I know all of the customers love it for what it is... I want to keep it Top Shelf. I don't want change too much of it. There's a reason people drive all way to Hampton from Massachusetts and the north to go to Top Shelf.”
Hutchinson said she was “so proud” to receive a number of offers just a few days after she announced a couple of weeks ago her need to sell the business due to a family matter.
Tynan made his offer within three days of the announcement. Several others weren't far behind, and Hutchinson said this showed her the store “has a niche here on the Seacoast.” Hutchinson met with eight potential buyers, and she said she made the decision to accept the one from Tynan and his wife, Amber, because “it was such a great fit.”
“Chris has been a customer of mine since day 1,” Hutchinson said. “He is as enthusiastic about craft beers as I am. He has a lot of retail management experience and he has a lot of personality. He appreciates the store for what it is and wants it to continue like that. To me, that's really important. I think our customers are looking for that as well.”
Tynan, who has a master's degree in psychology, had been working for the past seven years as a financial consultant. He wanted to help people as a counselor, although he couldn't find anything in that line of work after grad school and settled into a job that he hasn't found fulfilling.
He expects that all to change now that he'll have a chance to make a career out of a personal passion.
“It's been kind of steady going for the past seven years,” Tynan said. “It's not something that I'm super passionate about. Honestly, it was kind of mindnumbing at times. I think this is actually going to give me this opportunity. The other thing is the craft beer community is so tight-knit on the Seacoast right now. Everybody knows everybody. Just to be part of that right now… is going to be fantastic.”
Tynan will soon begin training under Hutchinson as the duo work toward a mid-to-late May transition date for the new ownership, which is dependant on Tynan securing a liquor license from the state. He said Hutchinson will be a great help as he assumes ownership of the store, which is something he said he's “really looking forward to.”
“It's so exciting, but at the same time it's terrifying knowing that I'm going to be the one responsible for keeping Top Shelf running,” said Tynan, who will continue Top Shelf's hours, customer rewards program and Thursday night beer tastings. “Sue has been there to hold my hand through the whole thing. I'm extremely lucky to have her.”
Hutchinson and Tynan say they may hold some sort of special event to thank customers and celebrate the change in ownership, although nothing has yet been scheduled.