PFK magazine raises a good question - Are your local fish stores closing? Have you lost any since the economy crashed?
It's more important than ever to support small businesses if we want to have options to big box stores. Even if we have to pay a little more for a product, it's a good idea to buy as much as you can from them.
This will sound stupid, but I just wrote a three paragraph reply to this post and I couldn't submit it. I don't have time to repeat.
Coming back to this topic, I'm not tech savvy at all. I think that the problem was that I was timed out. My wife is the techie in our home and that is what she thought. Anyhow, I don't know if it's my provider or this website. I just know that 30 minutes is a ridiculous time limit. I better hurry or this won't go through
Phoenix has lost several, including our best in terms of variety of species offered. We still have a few decent shops hanging on, but that's exactly what they are doing--hanging on. Unfortunately, it's about 8 miles to the very closest of them for me.
We just had one move to a larger location. However, we don't have that many non-chain fish stores and that is the only dedicated aquarium shop, the rest are general pet shops with good aquarium sections. The good ones seem to be doing pretty good around here.
Small fish stores have been in danger of closing since their inception. At first, many closed due to economic mismanagement (every hobbyist thought they could do better, offer better fish, lower prices, etc.). The constellation of events since the early 1980s, leading to more closures, include the advent of the video game and also simply less "family time." My first job 2 years out of high school was at a fish store, and my second one was as well. Then I opened up a shop, for a total of 12 years in the "business." I saw the decline just in time, and sold my store. It used to be absolutely wild at Christmas, but starting in roughly the late 80s, I saw a change....and then the big boxers arrived. Where I live, in the last 35 years I can't count the number of stores out of business. They continue to open and close. Mostly bad at business people, bad or no business model or plan, no understanding of the difficulty. Wow, what a mouthful!
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I'm happy to hear that some fish stores are still plugging along and saddened that some are still closing. It's not an easy business to be profitable in and I think many times the goal is more self-employment than a thriving business. That doesn't leave a lot of breathing room for lost sales.
Big box stores get a lot of new hobbyists, but it doesn't take long for them to learn the value of small stores, private breeders and clubs. While the Internet is often viewed as more competition for small business, I think the awareness it brings can be a small store's best friend.
Actually it started when the aquarium magazines started being filled with 'Mail Order' leads. This became heavy during the 80's and 90's, then the internet and big box stores took them the rest of the out!
There's only one true pet shop left in Lexington, KY and they are barely hanging on.
When I was still keeping and breeding Fancy Xiphophorus, I bought over 90% of my stock from the pet stores just like Melody.
I own a little spot in a landscape supply yard and also an online aquarium site that is no frills and rock bottom prices, but crazy as this sounds, I buy from the other local independent fish store. People just don't understand that the few $$$ you save on the internet are nothing compared to the personalized service you get at a local shop. Remember this is coming from a guy who buys wholesale.
When I walk into the local shop the owner and staff are the same people that have been there for years. I know for me the local shop is like the bar CHEERS "where everybody knows your name". They all know me, what fish I keep, and what I'm a sucker to buy. When I say sucker I mean they know if it's a livebearer and it looks good chances are I want it, and they know that cichlids are a waste of time for me.
I can't tell you how many times I've been in a big box store listening to an associate give the wrong information about a fish. It also seems like there is a whole new staff in the store every 2-3 months. Nobody knows anything about my fish, tanks, keeping habits. If I ask a question, mostly to test them, they almost always give the generic answer that you can read off of the product they are trying to sell you. Just try and buy a diaphragm for a whisper air pump at any of the big box stores and watch them get that blank look and then say “did you check by the air pumps”.
Sadly most people don’t know how great the little stores are until they are gone. Once the store closes you hear comments like “they were so knowledgeable” or "they always had the hard to find items". So don’t let your favorite hangout become a distant memory and spend the few extra bucks for that superior service and experience you have come to enjoy.
Here in omaha, we have lost our best 2 fish stores. Luckily, a nice new store opened up, nebraska aquatic supply, and im a regular customer. The two that closed were both family owned/run LFS. It's too bad, i liked them, mostly just for the atmosphere and conversation. You can order just about anything from viagra to ak-47's online nowadays, so its not like were out the supplies, just miss them for their friendship. I do support small business, and i support them by going in there and buying stuff, not just by voting for canidates that support them, but yes unfortunately 2 fish stores have closed down, but we still have petco/petsmart/walmart/and the nebraska aquatic supply and some other place called "fish freaks" but i don't know i can't ever find the place. Omaha and area is a city of about 700,000 people.