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Old 04-26-2012, 02:23 PM   #1
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I need help with opening a LFS

I wasn't sure where to post this to get the best advice, so you may see it again...

I want to open a fish store in the Seattle/Fremont area in Washington. It would start as freshwater and maybe add saltwater later. I have good resources for setting up a business, but not exactly in the fish trade. I need budget advice (what lease price range I should be looking at, profit expectations, initial stocking, etc) stocking advice (how to get distributer contacts, best items to stock, etc) and any other useful advice you can give. If you don't want to give away your trade secrets, PM me.
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:54 PM   #2
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Without being rude, if you don't have much experience with fish, this may not be the business for you. There is so much to learn, and getting a bad reputation from the start will not see you good. I've have personally never return to a shop where the fish don't look good or the advice is bad!!!

If I've miss read your post and you have experience at fish keeping then I would say this:

A lot of fish shops, tend to stock tetras, barbs, plays, mollies general community easy to keep fish. These are more common to keep for beginners and seem to have a high turn over and bread and butter earners.

Cichlids will bring in bigger money but you may not sell as many as they more specialist. Also there are lots of different species from both American and Africa.

All I would say is visit as many lfs as you can and see what they stock.

You could specialise in certain fish, if I can find it I can give you details of a company in Africa that export wild caught cichlids.

Good luck
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:00 PM   #3
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I should have mentioned that I would consider myself an advanced fish keeper. It's more than a hobby, it's a sickness. I have a good idea of the basic fish I would stock, but since I've never dealt with a distributer, I don't know distributer costs and whether certain fish are more profitable than others. As far as non livestock, should I sell aquariums or just equipment? Are there aquarium sizes i should stock more of? Of course I would have food and meds and possibly a DYI supplies section.
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:07 PM   #4
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I totally understand the obsession side of things! Lol sorry if my last post sounded patronising, wasn't sure of certain things.

Have a look for a thread called "tanked" it talks about the tv show and mentions the locations of two suppliers of fish to the trade. Might help.

Hope it helps
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IchthyChris
I should have mentioned that I would consider myself an advanced fish keeper. It's more than a hobby, it's a sickness. I have a good idea of the basic fish I would stock, but since I've never dealt with a distributer, I don't know distributer costs and whether certain fish are more profitable than others. As far as non livestock, should I sell aquariums or just equipment? Are there aquarium sizes i should stock more of? Of course I would have food and meds and possibly a DYI supplies section.
Really it will all depend on what's "hot" in your area...the higher the average income obviously the more money being spent on hobbies or addictions in some of our cases lol but you would be best off watching what sells in your large chain stores...for the tanks your most common tanks being sold is your 5-29 gallon tanks and 55s a bit for the person looking for a large tank but you would be well off trying to find a tank distributor so that when you do have that guy/gal looking for a 300 gallon tank you can order and get your cut off the top just for a phone call pretty much but obviously there is a whole lot more you will need to begin looking into because it is still a business so legal issues would be first such as proper licensing
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:18 PM   #6
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Another thing with stocking fish that you will have to consider is the real estate a fish will take up, then how much will you make off that fish, and the time it will normally take to sell it..there is also the options of keeping breeders if you have enough room to sell your own fry and periodically purchase new f1 or f2 parents for new blood since line breeding takes its toll on fish genetics
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrc8858

Really it will all depend on what's "hot" in your area...the higher the average income obviously the more money being spent on hobbies or addictions in some of our cases lol but you would be best off watching what sells in your large chain stores...for the tanks your most common tanks being sold is your 5-29 gallon tanks and 55s a bit for the person looking for a large tank but you would be well off trying to find a tank distributor so that when you do have that guy/gal looking for a 300 gallon tank you can order and get your cut off the top just for a phone call pretty much but obviously there is a whole lot more you will need to begin looking into because it is still a business so legal issues would be first such as proper licensing
Good points. The area I'm looking at is full of rich hipsters . What I'm really trying to do is guesstimate overhead vs profit. I know my biggest cost is going to be the property lease. If I can get a rough estimate of profit minus overhead I could then have an idea how big of a space I can afford. Would hate to have to go bankrupt shortly after opening. I know it's all relative but I'll take all the insight I can get. As far as the legal stuff, I got it covered.
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:30 PM   #8
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The first thing that needs to be done is assess the market, and the competition. Then you need to determine what your potential market share might be, and can you take business from the competition. The pie isn't going to get bigger because you open a store. You need to determine how much of that pie you can carve out for yourself. None of the rest matters if the numbers don't make sense.
Markup on fish seems to run anywhere from 300% to 600%. Tanks are pretty much sold for cost by the successful stores. It is like the hook on the end of the line. Once you have the tank, you need to get the rest of the hardware, which is where the money is. Around here the big stores are Big Al's, some of which are franchises. This may be a path for you to consider as well. it gives you a direct hook up to supppliers and group buys.
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:34 PM   #9
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Well I'm lucky to live near an ADA distributor store, Aqua Forest. Pricey tanks, great plants, amazing display tanks, a few nice fish and shrimp. Lots of supplies, CO2 set ups and ferts.

Little store, lots of fans
http://www.adana-usa.com/

Finding either a wide customer base or a good niche is the decision.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by BillD
The first thing that needs to be done is assess the market, and the competition. Then you need to determine what your potential market share might be, and can you take business from the competition. The pie isn't going to get bigger because you open a store. You need to determine how much of that pie you can carve out for yourself. None of the rest matters if the numbers don't make sense.
Markup on fish seems to run anywhere from 300% to 600%. Tanks are pretty much sold for cost by the successful stores. It is like the hook on the end of the line. Once you have the tank, you need to get the rest of the hardware, which is where the money is. Around here the big stores are Big Al's, some of which are franchises. This may be a path for you to consider as well. it gives you a direct hook up to supppliers and group buys.
300 - 600% markup is the kind of info I need. Tanks at cost makes sense too. I've done a little marketing research. The nearest fish stores to the area I'm looking at are 4 to 6 miles away. There are three downtown that are all within 6 blocks of each other in china town. They are kind of on the bartering system so I don't think I have to worry about that market. There is one about 4 miles away on the highway that mostly gets highway traffic and two Petsmarts that are about 7 miles away, both to the north. The biggest competitor would be 4 miles away. A locally owned store that deals with a lot of the local breeders (my favorite store). All locations are to the north east and south. Nothing to the west.
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