What would you like to see in a LFS?

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Humblefish

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So it's 2021 where online buying reigns supreme. But there's a part of me that misses fish shop hopping and buying my animals/equipment locally. Ya know, you get to actually see that fish or coral before you buy it. The problem is many LFS nowadays seem underwhelming, almost like they don't even care, or can't compete with online prices.

So, can anything be done to salvage the situation? I'm looking for suggestions that current & prospective LFS owners can take into consideration to possibly save their businesses.
 

LsuHunter

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Hopefully more aquacultured coral in the future, but having the space and time to grow stuff out is unlikely for most stores. It would be nice to see all of the people around here with amazing coral grow out setups in their homes cut deals with some local stores to sell stuff to.

Reef Coral has a great selection of dry goods and their prices compete with any on the internet for them. But they get the exact some boring livestock over and over again so I have to look elsewhere for fish and coral.
 

dwebster86

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So it's 2021 where online buying reigns supreme. But there's a part of me that misses fish shop hopping and buying my animals/equipment locally. Ya know, you get to actually see that fish or coral before you buy it. The problem is many LFS nowadays seem underwhelming, almost like they don't even care, or can't compete with online prices.

So, can anything be done to salvage the situation? I'm looking for suggestions that current & prospective LFS owners can take into consideration to possibly save their businesses.
I agree, most seem like they just don't care. Feels bad too, cause I'd rather support a local business than Online. Especially cause I don't have to wait on shipping at that point. Pretty huge deal. Wish I lived near Seth lol
 

Cigmin

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Great topic and thinking through this. First question I ask why I visit certain shops which include ones all the way in Houston. Trust is key. when I walk in it feels like I’m an old friend that the owner or worker has not seen in a bit. I like flashy and new age stores but also like old school ones. Secondly cleanliness

I do buy things on line from small to HG. I bought from one guy cause the dude gave so much stuff away during freeze and as well a HG to a person who helps promote the meaning of the community. I think local stores may struggle with the vast online stock if one is looking for that special coral.

Can local stores compete ? Sure but the LFS may need to evaluate business model. One needs to find their niche in the market and who is their customer ? Newbies? Geek nerds or snobs.

Short term?
Hire people who care.
Teach them customer service.
Increase online presence
Promote sales and products u stock
Don’t be a d*ck online or to customers
Keep your stock clean and healthy

People will come


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

dwebster86

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Great topic and thinking through this. First question I ask why I visit certain shops which include ones all the way in Houston. Trust is key. when I walk in it feels like I’m an old friend that the owner or worker has not seen in a bit. I like flashy and new age stores but also like old school ones. Secondly cleanliness

I do buy things on line from small to HG. I bought from one guy cause the dude gave so much stuff away during freeze and as well a HG to a person who helps promote the meaning of the community. I think local stores may struggle with the vast online stock if one is looking for that special coral.

Can local stores compete ? Sure but the LFS may need to evaluate business model. One needs to find their niche in the market and who is their customer ? Newbies? Geek nerds or snobs.

Short term?
Hire people who care.
Teach them customer service.
Increase online presence
Promote sales and products u stock
Don’t be a d*ck online or to customers
Keep your stock clean and healthy

People will come


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
100% hate walking into an LFS and Seeing bubble algae everywhere, aptasia, dirty glass/acrylic. This is somewhere where I expect kinda higher standards, you are running a business and people put trust into you when they buy something, and don't expect to get pests/hitchhikers from a Reef shop.
 

Humblefish

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100% hate walking into an LFS and Seeing bubble algae everywhere, aptasia, dirty glass/acrylic. This is somewhere where I expect kinda higher standards, you are running a business and people put trust into you when they buy something, and don't expect to get pests/hitchhikers from a Reef shop.
I'm not trying to make excuses, but just maintaining the tanks (properly) is a full-time job for a one or two person operation. Then you've got to deal with customers, business paperwork, taxes (the govt. is a nightmare to deal with), etc. etc.

I think what happens is after working 60-80 hours/week, and you're still losing money, many LFS owners just give up and don't really care anymore. :confused: But you just keep going because you've already got so much invested in the business.
 

BumpaBaaby

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After seeing this I paid close attention… I saw bubble algae, brown algae, dead fish. You’re right, I’d designate someone to just take care of the tanks and nothing else… that is , if you got it like that
 

dwebster86

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Felt so bad, went to the local petco here in shreveport. Counted at least 5 dead fish laying on the bottom of the tanks, no staff around to care. Will say Aquarium Concepts here in shreveport has stepped up their game. Went in there today to see his fish selection and the frag and coral tank looked good. Clean. More coral than I've seen in there before. He's a bit pricey, but for no shipping and local its worth.
 

LsuHunter

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Felt so bad, went to the local petco here in shreveport. Counted at least 5 dead fish laying on the bottom of the tanks, no staff around to care. Will say Aquarium Concepts here in shreveport has stepped up their game. Went in there today to see his fish selection and the frag and coral tank looked good. Clean. More coral than I've seen in there before. He's a bit pricey, but for no shipping and local its worth.
Since you are in Shreveport, you need to check out Exotic Aquatic. The guy runs it out of his garage but he has some really nice coral for a good price.
 

dwebster86

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Since you are in Shreveport, you need to check out Exotic Aquatic. The guy runs it out of his garage but he has some really nice coral for a good price.
I know Chris personally. I helped him setup the business. We've parted ways.
 

CenlaReefer

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I make the 2 hour drive to Coral Fever for livestock because they QT their fish.
I do the same yet drive even further for QT'D fish from Coral Fever.
100% hate walking into an LFS and Seeing bubble algae everywhere, aptasia, dirty glass/acrylic. This is somewhere where I expect kinda higher standards, you are running a business and people put trust into you when they buy something, and don't expect to get pests/hitchhikers from a Reef shop.
I would love to see a QT'D coral & invert only tank sometime before I die. Stock in such a tank could be marked-up.

It would be nice to have a LFS that could special oder coral for customers. That is important for those who want to collect corals.
 
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Lazyfish

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Distance is the main reason for me 35 to 45 min for the closest stores and to get to the nice ones is like 2+ hrs. Also poorly maintained tanks, unprofessional staff and sick fish are a turn off. I do alot of online ordering

Louisiana fish store one Of the two closest ones sells very little saltwater stuff mostly freshwater so I go there sometimes for my fw stuff they get in alot of intresting livestock for fw. They allways have bad algae or diatoms in the saltwater tanks when the diatoms are too bad they refuse to sell corals but anyone with sufficient experience can take care of that but they still wont sell then you come back and the items are sold alredy :/ they have nearly gotten rid of all there saltwater stuff now but keep saying they are going to redo there systems and start over including a teardown and sale of livestock in there display tank but have yet to do it.

Reef coral The other closeish place also sometimes but not allways has some algae problems and sometimes has sick fish. Fish are priced low but some of the corals are a bit inflated. Some of the staff there is ok but others of the staff I dont realy care for they can very preferential especially with there regulars and sometimes takes a while to get serviced when all I want is to run in and grab someone rodi water.

Aqua hut The last place I frequent is farther out. They have good quality and well priced corals but there fish on average can be pricy. They tend to be higher quality fish tho and I rarely ever see dead or sick fish if ever in that store. Tanks are usualy clean. Probly my favorite of the 3 nearish to me but at 45 min away I dont go that often.

I have visited the other places coral fever and whatever the other one was called sory cant remember. They are farther out but only once or twice they are just too far. They both had good prices good variety and healthy fish and corals but I do remember one was hard to get waited on and the other they seriously hovered. I guess in both cases because I was a new face and one wanted me to buy stuff and the other didnt know if I was actualy planning on buying stuff idk...it wasnt that bothersome to the degree of the second place I mentioned. If I was closer I would probly visit these two alot more because of the variety and quality.

For me I would honestly actualy prefer to go and see my corals in person when I get them. I dont like opening my box and finding dead stuff or having it die from shipping stress a day later.
Some online sellers sometimes sell whole colonys or large chunks they are pricy but you rarely see them in lfs. OCASIONALY I see large colonys at one of the stores but rarely at any of the others. Sometimes offering a selection of large colonys or reasonably priced frags of unique or unusual morphs in lfs would be nice. Having a beginner coral section with cheep frags for new hobbyist would be nice and help newbies make decisions on corals that they can actualy keep alive and probly bring them back for repeat busness rather than them buying something that dies then getting discouraged and quitting. I like when the lfs will special order fish or corals for you but alot of places dont advertise this service and sometimes it takes a while. Advertisement of inhouse water testing and other services would also be nice alot of new hobiest dont realize alot of places do that. There are plenty of services they have that they dont advertise that new people just dont know about. Also I've noticed some of the online sellers are actualy just regular lfs some ship there corals and fish from there stores and offer discounts for local shipping. That would be another way for them to compete and people would still be buying local but would be good for people who are farther out in there home state with shorter shipping times corals would be less stressed when they arrived and improve shipping survival rates.
 
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Pêcheur

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I went to a store in Nola for the first time a couple weeks ago. The fish tanks were so crowded I felt bad for the fish. They looked healthy otherwise but I was concerned about high stress in that environment. I don’t have details on whether that is normal or maybe they had just got a large shipment in but it made me hesitant to return. The store was nice otherwise and the employees friendly and helpful.

I also will drive out of my way to go to an LFS that has clean tanks and healthy looking specimens. If I see multiple fish that look unhealthy, diseased or with obvious parasites I will avoid buying any livestock.

I do make an effort to buy locally and usually find prices comparable to online vendors, especially for dry goods so unless it’s not carried locally, I’ll spend a few extra dollars in a brick and mortar to support businesses.

I just reentered the hobby and I wa pleased to see that COVID hadn’t sunk any of the local businesses.

I’ve never been in their position as a retailer, but what about promoting a frag tank for hobbyists to populate and the business gets a cut. Make it so the the business gets paid a commission on hobbyist frags. Business obligation is only display, lighting and general care, but if the coral doesn’t make it the hobbyist is just out a frag.
 
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