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Old 12-23-2011, 05:56 PM   #1
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Central NJ - comparing a great LFS to a not-so-great one

So I live in central NJ and am fortunate to have two LFS within about a 5 mile radius of me. One is Pet Shanty in Scotch Plains, NJ - I use them all the time. They're always patient, experienced, knowledgable, and perfectly happy to spend hours talking shop - even if it won't always result in a sale. They're happy to discuss techniques, practices, ways they do things, how I could do things better, what corals I'd be most successful with: they know my setup, even though it was purchased elsewhere, and they are generally a PLEASURE to work with - and have been that way since the first time I set foot in the shop.

Up the road is Ocean Gallery 2 in Bound Brook, NJ. As compared to Pet Shanty, Ocean Gallery is a much prettier shop. Lots more fish in stock (they don't even stock freshwater, only salt), and tons of tanks of corals, frags, zoas etc. I decided to give them a shot today, as I was in that direction and needed some assistance, and also wanted to purchase some frags. First of all, I witnessed their fish guy telling an obviously inexperienced teen that yes, of course, a copper banded butterfly would look BEAUTIFUL in his 14 gallon tank and would get along great with his clownfish (thankfully I overheard this and once the fish guy walked away I spoke with the kid quietly and made some alternate suggestions). When the fish guy returned I asked for what I needed: I had brought in a water sample and asked for them to do a calcium test for me (I explained that I had a new test kit and that my calcium level measured far higher than I'd expected). The gentleman told me that he didn't know how to do a calcium test (I very audibly responded with "wait, you WHAT?!") and took me to the front counter where I was told that they were "too busy" , that it was "just the two of them" and that a calcium test was a "long process".

Needless to say, I walked out rather miffed (I tested three times the night before in under 5 minutes) loudly commenting to my son that this is why we ALWAYS shopped at pet shanty.

Drove over to Pet Shanty (despite having been there yesterday and both they and I knew they had nothing I needed or wanted to buy) and asked if they would mind doing a calcium test. They very cheerfully did so, setting my mind at ease and also showing what true customer service is about.

I won't say I'll never go back to Ocean Gallery. Their frag prices are excellent for large frags...they have a wide variety of zoanthids that can't be found elsewhere locally,however they will certainly never get the kind of loyalty from me that their competition has. I can't imagine running a LFS and telling ANYONE that I was too busy to do a basic water test for them. Pet Shanty may not have the bells and whistles that OG does, and I sometimes have to order corals or fish that I want...but Charlie at Pet Shanty goes out of his way to help his customers. He's quarantined fish for me before, and never once has he ever sent me away saying he was "too busy" to help me out.

I would strongly encourage anyone in the area to check out The Pet Shanty - ask for Charlie and let him know that Mitch sent you his way. It probably won't get you a discount or anything, but I like him to know that I send folks his way whenever possible, as my way of saying "thank you" for being a GREAT lfs owner.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:04 PM   #2
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does pet shanty do saltwater
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
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does pet shanty do saltwater
Sure do - they also do fresh water, have some good reptiles and fuzzies as well.
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:07 PM   #4
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do they have a large selection of sw?
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:38 PM   #5
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Zachey - as mentioned in my original posting, they do keep a wide variety of corals in, but if there's something specific you want in terms of livestock they may not have it - however Charlie is always happy to order stuff in for you, if you know what you're looking for.

Ocean Gallery 2 has a much wider variety in stock - but if you need advice on things they are certainly not the place to go. They're in it to sell, not to help you succeed. Charlie doesn't care if you chew the fat with him for an hour and walk out with nothing: he knows that by giving you good advice the sales will come later.

are you in NJ Zachey?
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:53 PM   #6
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yep, im in nj
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:12 AM   #7
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OG II may quite possible have the largest selection of coral in all of NJ. And thier $ is pretty much the best on the same. the best day to go there is on a Sat during the day. There will be 3 people working, 2 guys at the counter(leave them alone), and a bald guy in the fish room. One of the most knowledgeable guys I have come across in the business.
If you want another place in central jersey go to Captivating Coral in Freehold, you will not be disappointed.

By the way, OG II very much has freshwater, in fact it has a whole room dedicated to it, as well as reptile, bird, and furry animal rooms.
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Old 12-24-2011, 10:12 AM   #8
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OG II may quite possible have the largest selection of coral in all of NJ. And thier $ is pretty much the best on the same. the best day to go there is on a Sat during the day. There will be 3 people working, 2 guys at the counter(leave them alone), and a bald guy in the fish room. One of the most knowledgeable guys I have come across in the business.
If you want another place in central jersey go to Captivating Coral in Freehold, you will not be disappointed.

By the way, OG II very much has freshwater, in fact it has a whole room dedicated to it, as well as reptile, bird, and furry animal rooms.
JG - I must have missed the freshwater room. I've definitely seen their reptiles having bought a couple of snakes there in the past. And I concur, they have amazing selection.

What I DONT like about them is that they appear to be completely sale driven. I've been in there a couple of times "just looking" and found them selling fish to folks who had no business with them (i.e. a newbie getting a copper band, a guy with a 60 gallon tank buying a moorish idol etc).

Great store - just not sure about the employees honestly.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:15 AM   #9
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Stopped in on the OGII this weekend - saw the freshwater stuff, they do indeed have some cool stuff in there.

Unfortunately I once again walked out without making a purchase due to customer service issues. Very frustrating!!! Spent a good 45 minutes picking out a few frags and one large coral...and I found the person in the saltwater room so un-knowledgable that I simply couldn't conceive of making the purchase. Things like "where would coral XYZ be happiest in a tank?" I would think would be pretty easy questions, no???

I think that what I need to do is stick with Pet Shanty when I have questions, and only use OG when I know exactly what I want and what I need to do with it. It's a pity because if OG had a little bit of the pet shanty attitude, they would be a PHENOMENAL shop. Lots of stock, tanks look good etc...I just always feel like they're trying to pull a fast one somehow, based on the lack of knlwedge of the folks I've spoken to!
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