The Calgary store has been under new management for about a year now. It was franchised by the same person who runs the Edmonton store. Under the old owner it was all fish. Since corporate has taken over it has become all pets.
It is still a nice place to shop, but new owner is definitely about making money. You can hear him get mad at his employees for spending too much time on one customer, which can be good and bad. Sometimes you want to build a friendly rapport with customers, but on the same time don't want to keep others waiting. I have heard that refunds/returns and replacements can sometimes be difficult now at that store because the manager doesn't want to lose money. I think the old managers might have been too eager to do so, I dunno.
I have had heard mixed reviews since the new management. I do know that many of the employees and some management that had been there for years were gone soon after new management took over. Many of them really knew their fresh/salt fish and reptiles very well. New employees are very new and learning the trade. It is sad not to see those friendly knowledgeable people anymore.
Personally I go more to Pisces because they will let me order specific plants and have ADA products for my aquatic plant hobby. They are good with offering credit with fish or plants I bring in to them. I go to Big Al's now just to see if they have something I can't find at Pisces. So they still get my business.
Most recent experience with Big Al's Calgary was I was looking for HC (baby tears) and they apparently "just" got them in. These were tiny pots with about 3 leaves in each pot. They looked horrible and definitely not much there. I didn't know they just got them in but found out when I asked if they would reduce the price because I thought their plants were dying off and I offered to take some. The guy didn't like that I asked for them cheaper and told me they just came in and the prices for them are cheap. At $16 for that little pot of 3 leaves not a good deal at all. I popped back to pisces a day later and they had big plastic cups from aquaflora with about a 12cm diameter wide bunch that was super healthy for $14.
Not that pisces plants are always in great condition. It is hard to find LFS
that actually have their plant sections set up to grow healthy plants, so you often find their stock after a week or so starts looking bad and gets algae until they get more new stock.