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Old 02-14-2005, 10:13 PM   #1
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starting a fish store

I am not sure where to post this, so here it is. I have been trying to find info in the internet about opening a fish store. I mean salt and fresh fish/inverts/etc... no birds, dogs etc..Does anyone know of good links, or have good advice for me? I would greatly appreciate any advice. This is just the beginning of my research.. Hopefully I will be able to hit it big and make myself and many aquarists happy!!! Thank you.
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Old 02-14-2005, 10:38 PM   #2
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Welcome to AquariumAdvice.com!!!
For staters, you are going to need some water Actually, I do not know much about opening a fish store, but I can tell you what I look for in a good LFS. First off, product and livestock knowledge is paramount. If you and your staff are not educated you will not do well. Customer service should also be of the highest priority. In this day of large chain stores with low prices, providing excellent customer service can help you win over customers. I choose to shop at "mon and pop" stores because of the friendly service and great education. I could save a little money by frequentling the Petcos and Petsmarts of the world but they are lacking in these two most important areas. I also look for cleanliness of the store, the tanks and the general condition of the livestock. I ussually only buy from store that have all of their tanks on their own seperate filtration system. I try to avoid shops that have several tanks on one filtering loop. IF one tank gets a parasite or has a problem, they are all effected. Lastly, try to offer a wide variety of livestock and dry goods. That is it. I wish you all the luck in your venture...Lando
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Old 02-14-2005, 10:54 PM   #3
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I also look for cleanliness of the store, the tanks and the general condition of the livestock. I ussually only buy from store that have all of their tanks on their own seperate filtration system. I try to avoid shops that have several tanks on one filtering loop
Agreed. My major thing is clenliness of the store. Filtration is another big thing! Product and Livestock knowledge as well. If you don't know, be honest!

As for your research, you really need to know what the local market is like. Talk to the BBB, and other Small Business groups in your community. Do your market research.

As for product, once you find what your market wants contact the manufacturers and find what distributors they recomend. My LFS gets their products from a company called Lone Star Pets. I googled them and couldn't find the exact company, but when I go in next i'll ask them.
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:49 AM   #4
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I'll tell you Lando, if I had a lfs that had the experience, quality, and cleanliness a fish store should have, I would shop there before going online. I just don't have that luxury here.

Mike
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Old 02-15-2005, 08:24 AM   #5
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How many tanks will you have room for. ID the # of SW tanks and fresh water. What sizes?

40 & 50g tanks might be the choice of SW tanks IMO. And since I do SW, I can only offer opinions on those. My buddy has the 40 & 50g breeder tanks. Usually 6 or so are sharing water and filtration. Gotta account for your fish only tanks which should probably have an amount of copper running thru them. Of course the snails, crabs, starfish, and coral tanks won't.

A lot depends on yur floor space. I'd recommend working very thouroughly with a floor plan, laying out space and tank needs, deciding on safe wiring routines, looking at the plans for a bit, and thinking it through. Nothing like buiklding stuff and then having to sacrifice something 'cause you overlooked something. Kinda like the "measure twice, cut once" rule.

How much space you talkin?

Also, my buddy doesn't do too bad with the stock sales, but really cleans up with maintenance contracts for homes. Two trucks out there almost everyday. Also, he recently put a display tank (with hardy fish) in the lobby of a major movie theatre - w/advertisement. That was good move.

Start looking for seminars and aquarium discussion forums near you. Attend as many as you can IMO. Good luck.
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:08 AM   #6
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Some things you may want to consider...first, search the internet for how to write a business plan and create one that makes sense for your store. It doesn't have to be a huge project, but the concepts it forces you to address can be enlightening. It's much more fun to think about fish and inverts than liability insurance, but both need to be addressed. After that, some market research ensuring your local market could/would support the store might be in order. Check out the competition to see where you could do better. The existence of local reef or freshwater clubs could not only be an indicator of potential demand, but could be tremendous resources. It's likely some members have considered this or actually done it. Most small business owners are happy to help, as long as you don't plan to locate near them! All the other suggestions you're receiving here are on the mark. Good luck.
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:30 AM   #7
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Oh yeah. The business plan. This can be a fun hobby, and something you might think would be profitable - until you get it on paper. I agree whole heartedly with the business plan development. Lay it all out - including the logistical stuff I mentioned earlier. This will take a lot.

The business plan will work for the banks - and you. Get it on paper. Think about it. Then, think some more.
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:36 AM   #8
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Hopefully I will be able to hit it big and make myself and many aquarists happy!!! Thank you.

Please move to NY and open your store here in Poughkeepsie.

PM me for directions if you need them.
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SG 1.024, temp 79.5, pH 8.4

Livestock I added:

1 skunk cleaner. 12 hermits: red, scarlet, blue. 15 or so assorted snails. Discosomas, Ricordia, Rhodactis mushroom corals, chaetomorpha (sump), 1 feather duster, Montipora digitata, Montipora capricornis, Montipora hispids. assorted zoos, Xenia, Kenya tree coral, green Sinularia, green star polyps, branching hammer coral, bubble coral, Devil's hand leather. Yellow chromis, purple firefish.

Hitchhikers: the usual suspects :crabs, bristles, urchin, mantis shrimp (now in exile in mantis tank)

List of possible/likely newcomers:

Feather duster. PJ cardinal, Bangghai cardinal, Firefish goby, Clownfish, Neon goby, Yellow watchman goby, Orchid dottyback. Various corals.
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Old 02-15-2005, 10:36 AM   #9
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also have a big sw and fw display tank so it gives your customers and beginnning aquarist something to look foward to doing and some inspritiation for those who want to do it
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Old 02-15-2005, 10:42 AM   #10
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also have a big sw and fw display tank so it gives your customers and beginnning aquarist something to look foward to doing and some inspritiation for those who want to do it
Yep. I forgot to mention the 180g tanks. Maybe one each for both display and the larger fish you might need to house for sellin'. All in the floor plan layout I wuz mentioning earlier.
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Old 02-15-2005, 11:09 AM   #11
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that is a great idea. Put together a couple of kick-butt 180gal tanks. Make them your showcase tanks. Put in the bwst looking fish and corals to make people drool over them. It is more of a credability tank, then a sales tank. If y show people what you can keep, they will trust you a lot more. There is a LFS by me that have awesome super-colored zoos in the owners display tank. They are the nicest I have ever seen. I have offered him an insain amount of money for them and he has declined every time. He ust says, "nope, those are mine". I would not sell them either.
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Old 02-16-2005, 01:01 AM   #12
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The previous advice regarding a Business Plan will be the one greatest piece of advice you will receive. I would also recommend contacting your local chamber of commerce or small business association. They can help point you in the right direction as far as planning and help provide contact information to help start your business network going.

In addition to a general business plan, I would also recommend creating a separate marketing plan. Remember that marketing encompasses much more than advertising. It deals with budgeting, supply management, pricing. You need to think about things like positioning, location, etc. Your USP (unique selling point) will be very important. It is likely that you will NOT be able to compete on price with the chain stores so you will have to provide value in another way be it customer service, quality, etc.

When determining your location I would not eliminate the possibility of locating near other competitors. Oftentimes, locating near your competition can be favourable. THink of auto retailers. OFten they are all located on a strip of a particular area of town. I'm not saying it's the right answer and perhaps locations away from competitors will be best but it's just something to think about.

Just remember to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Also, while they can be intimidating, crunch the numbers to death. If you aren't good at accounting, budgeting, look for help from the bank etc.

Good luck.
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:05 AM   #13
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If you go to WetWebMedia they have a section on opening a business in the industry. I too have thrown this idea around, but when it all shakes out the effort and profit is just not there yet. The information is top notch and covers all the things that you would need so you can actually see what it takes and what you did not realize it takes. Good luck!
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Old 02-16-2005, 11:23 AM   #14
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What about the in house service contracts? My buddy is doing about $25k monthly with those.
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Old 02-18-2005, 01:06 AM   #15
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Definitly go to wetwebmedia.com. I did much research on that site before I started my store. Plan plan plan........ and check out other good stores. But you will always learn more later after you open your doors.
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Old 02-18-2005, 01:17 AM   #16
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hi, you might want to ask this question in the Freshwater section as well since you will get more and maybe even different ideas.

One thing, im not sure if it was mentioned or if you have thought about it already. Is you might be able to save in electricity if there was a separate, dark room for fish. There are two mom and pop fish stores in my area and one has their equipment part separated from the fish part and the fish room is lit up only by the tanks. While the other store has their tanks along the walls (lit up) as well as the over head lights. I personally think tanks look better when they are the only "glowing" thing in the room... then you have X amount of square feet that you don't have to light up. Does that make any sense?

I think a NICE, well educated staff is important, that consider fish just as pet-like as cats or dogs. Also, ive always wanted to see care-sheets for different fish given to costumers if wanted.

Good luck!
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Old 02-18-2005, 01:59 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by lyquidphyre
There are two mom and pop fish stores in my area and one has their equipment part separated from the fish part and the fish room is lit up only by the tanks.
lyquidphyre....There is only one lfs in my area that is not part of a big-box chain. It is set up in this same way and it is awesome. I couldn't agree more. Not only do the fish stand out more and appear much more vibrantly colored, but it is much more peaceful in that room.
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Old 02-18-2005, 02:19 AM   #18
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i agree, i've been to one lfs with a dark room with about 50 tanks and it made me want to buy all the fish in the store. imo something like that will at least get people through the door even if they don't own fish. oh and they had a very nice planted tank in the back but i would put something like that in the front to catch everyone's attention
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Old 02-18-2005, 04:17 AM   #19
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if ur looking for your main tanks, Dutch Aquarium Systems have a lot of great looking setups and even sell good used units. We have them in our store and they look great. Again with the maintenances, its going to be the lifeblood of your store and what pays the bills, everything else in the store is just extra.
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