Since I've been in the hobby, the trend has gone from few fish from hobbyists at meetings--pre auction years--to clubs getting most of their operating funds from auctions. It turned hobbyists who shared their fish into 'sellers' [though some sharing still goes on] and changed the dynamic of clubs.
I haven't been around very long, and I am not an objective disinterested observer so it is difficult for me to separate out my personal bias, but it appears to me that any hobby left over from the good ol' days is quickly being overrun by commercialization.
I fear that being a good auctioneer is more of an asset to a local club these days than being a good breeder. Not only are clubs getting a large percentage of their operating funds from auctions, but a big part of the auction profits are coming from sellers/wholesalers who are not even members of the local club.
I wasn't involved, but I'm guessing that even in the hay day of the "hobby", LFS owners were not getting rich. I suspect that they were only surviving because they were doing something they enjoyed and as yet there was no "market" to compete with them. I predict that local clubs will fare no better as long as their strategy is to make money from selling fish.
I know this forum isn't where the vast majority of ALA members hang out, but for those of us here I wonder how the ALA is handling this transition? Where do our operating funds come from? Are we still a hobbyist's club or a vehicle for selling something? Do we put ads in the "Trader" to exchange fish or do we put ads on AquaBid to try and make a few bucks? I wonder if we should change the name of the Trader? How about Traitor? or Seller? or Cellar?
Ok. I admit those last few comments crossed over the line of good judgment. But does anyone else share my frustration at the way things are going?