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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2004, 04:38 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Arkansas
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stores in northeast arkansas

I'll start with a ranking, and then a brief description of each...

1. Best Pets - 3915 E Nettleton Ave - (870) 802-3554 Jonesboro, AR *8/10*
2. Tropical Adventure - 211 S Pruett St - (870) 240-0100 Paragould, AR *8/10*
3. Tropical Paradise - 3415 East Highland Dr - (870) 910-5165 Jonesboro, AR *6/10*
4. Petco - 1211 S Caraway Rd - (870) 931-6404 Jonesboro, AR *3/10*

* Kermit's Reef - 8551 Macon Road (901) 755-8033 Cordova, TN
a little over 1hr drive from Jonesboro, right outside Memphis, but well worth it. Nice live plant tank, great FW selection, and FANTASTIC saltwater selection with the largest collection of corals, anenomes, etc. I've ever seen *9/10*

1. Best Pets: This is my favorite LFS for several reasons. This store is clean, large, well stocked, and everything is priced fairly. I don't know if I've ever seen a dirty tank or dead fish. I've seen the occasional ich outbreak, but the tank is always medicated and labeled "NOT FOR SALE". All tanks are separate, which means when an occasional illness does break out, it's limited to the single tank in most cases. Good saltwater selection with 3-5 pieces of live rock in each tank (from 5-25 lbs) when well stocked. Great selection of corals, anenomes, etc.
Staff at the store is above average. The owner is usually around, and he is very knowledgable about most areas of fishkeeping. I've only know of 2 other people who work there, and both were women in their late 20s - early 30's and were so-so in the knowledge department. I never heard incorrect or irresponsible advice, but on several occasions their answer was simply "umm.. i dunno." On occasion one of them will actually seek me out and ask me to help the customer. Quite the compliment, but a little disappointing.
Overall I'd give the store a score of 8 out of 10. Great fish, great supplies, decent prices, above average staff. Only drawbacks are limits on livestock variety (can be expected in a smaller market) and hours (10-5:30) that make it very tricky to make it on weekdays if working a 9-5 job.

2. Tropical Adventure: It should be noted at the beginning of this review that it is owned and run by the same couple as Best Pets. In every area it is equal to their Jonesboro location, with the exception of a better live plant selection the 5 or 6 times I've stopped by. The only reason I ranked it below Best Pets is that it's a 30 minute drive from my house, whereas Best Pets is only 8. This store has the same positives and negatives, with an overall score of 8 of 10.

3. Sailor's Tropical Paradise: This store is the one I visit most frequently besides #1. Tanks are usually in good - great shape, but dead fish in tanks and algae / dead plants drop the aesthetics to average. Selection of fish is fair, almost always including fish not found at other local stores. However, there are also fish that they rarely / never stock. On the plus side, it's the only local store that regularly stocks Kribensis, Yellow Labidochromis, and African Butterflyfish. Other notable finds include clown, bristlenose, and peppermint plecos. Large freshwater fish selection, but limited corals, etc.
Overall the store is good, with lots of reasons to visit occasionally, but certain drawbacks keep it form being the store i frequent most. Live plant tank is a disaster with the exception of the occasional java moss clump that fairs well after being de-snailed and rinsed clean. Prices on equipment, decorations, etc. are steep. I understand that a small business can't always compete with chains like Pet(co)/(smart), but prices 50+% above theirs on every single item makes it hard to justify. Especially considering the other locally own store in town is 2 blocks away and more reasonably priced. Livestock is also a bit pricey in some cases, but fair to even cheapest in town in others. For example, the blue rams (sometimes Bolivian Rams that are mislabled) are a good $4-5 more than Best Pets. However, Zebra Danios or Neon Tetras are usually the best deal in town. I've also overheard some really *bad* advice given to customers on more than one occasion. Overall score of 6 out of 10 for listed reasons.

Petco: Last of the pack for all the usual reasons. Fair/below average selection (seriously, could they overstock livebearers and understock cichlids any more dramatically?) Decent saltwater selection *when* the fish are healthy, but corals/live rock/anenomes are conspicously absent. I don't know that I've ever been in the store that the aquatics department didn't need some serious work. Freshwater tanks are almost always experiencing outbreaks of diseased or weakened fish. Planted tank is the worst in the area by far. It is algae covered, full of dead pond comets / koi on most days (do they not realize that goldfish EAT live plants vigorously?), and almost always stocked with non-aquatic plants. For a chain, the staples of fishkeeping are egregiously understocked. No hydrometers, short stock of test kits, hit or miss selection of freeze dried foods, poor selection of filter media (almost always sold out of filter floss), and too many bowls / vases and not enough tanks top the list of offenses.
Most problems stem from the typical corporation approach to pet store management. Understaffing leads to dirty tanks / sick fish, which leads to decreased business, angry customers, and dissatisfied, overworked employeees, which leads to a loss of knowledgable staff and replacement with high school/college kids with *no* knowledge of fishkeeping, or any other area they might be assigned to, which starts the cycle over again the the tanks continously degenerating until finally someone is forced to stay late or come in early to do a MAJOR overhaul, culling vast numbers of fish, treating the rest with stout meds, and leaving the fish "NOT FOR SALE" and small in numbers for several weeks until the next shipment of 10,000 swordtails and 86,000 mollies arrive, pooping the system back into nitrite/trate overload, algae outbreaks, and fish dieoffs all over again. Overall score 3 out of 10. The only reason to visit is to get dry food, saltwater mix, and the occasional odd and end accessory like a new net or gravel vac.

Hope this helps somebody in some way eventually...

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