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Thread: Unique Aquaria (Skiptons Boston) Closed!!! Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-11-2014 02:48 PM
tattooedfool83 Any pictures of those Macmaseri?
02-10-2014 06:17 PM
SBPyro Grabbed some of the cpds
But you were out of amano (when are they due in /)
01-27-2014 05:34 PM
redpaulhus They came in mid-week.
best ive ever seen from this wholesaler.
I'd call them young adult to adult. At least a few alpha males in there
not as cheap as I'd like but not the scrawny crap some wholesalers call cpd's
01-27-2014 04:05 PM
SBPyro
Quote:
Originally Posted by redpaulhus View Post
our next generation of sunkist orange shrimp are just about ready for sale, and I'm hoping to have a batch of my personal fire shrimp stock ready by Feb. We just got more amano shrimp in this week.

Also in stock this week - celestial pearl danios, rummynose tetras, scarlet badis, more ottos, and apisto macmasteri "blue"
Rich,
How long have you had the CPDs? and what size?
01-25-2014 02:16 AM
redpaulhus
Quote:
Originally Posted by theurbantomato View Post
After all this being said...

I still have gotten to stock my shrimp tanks.

Any chance UA picked up any new shrimp or fill an order?
our next generation of sunkist orange shrimp are just about ready for sale, and I'm hoping to have a batch of my personal fire shrimp stock ready by Feb. We just got more amano shrimp in this week.

Also in stock this week - celestial pearl danios, rummynose tetras, scarlet badis, more ottos, and apisto macmasteri "blue"
01-25-2014 02:10 AM
redpaulhus Hi Rookie,
Thanks for the feedback, I do appreciate it.

Keeping in mind that I'm not the owner, I'm a part time employee - so I don't make top level decisions:

I've been in the retail side of the hobby for about 20 years now, and the club and internet side for almost as long. I've worked in big box stores, small regional chain stores, and small mom-and-pop stores.
In my first stores, the fish were there to drive dry good sales - back then there were no internet stores, and the profit margin on dry goods was excellent. Now I'm in a store where the livestock is the focus and the drygoods are considered convenience items for our livestock customers.
The business is constantly evolving.
Especially here in Mass, where we have a huge # of fish clubs in easy driving distance AND big box stores galore, small independent stores need to find their niche.
The clubs (and sites like this one) are not the competition - they're our partners. And its not about the short term sale (at least to me) -- its about building a relationship with a customer but more importantly - its about building the hobby.

(a few years ago, I read in FAMA that something like 80% of new aquarium keepers quit in less than one year - and I think thats because stores are looking for fast profits and customers are chasing low prices not knowledge)
anyway - back to my point - there have always been aquarists trading high quality livestock outside of retail channels - that's why the BAS is coming up on its 100 year anniversary. As a store, we need to find our niche, and looking around and at the space we had, it wasn't going to be Cichlids (Ned), and we wanted to avoid trying to compete with the big box stores.
When we were in Boston I had at least one customer a day who wanted to know why I didn't have 99 cent fish like Petco or Petsmart.
Instead we wanted to build a store where you could buy quality WILD cardinals (buy a fish save a tree - Piaba ), microrasboras, scarlet badis, licorice gouramis, etc, plus a variety of plants for low or high light tanks.

ok, back to your feedback...
Part of the plan was to sell plants online - when we were in our warehouse location, our website was a bigger part of the business plan, and I had the plant system setup so that our e-tail manager could easily pick and ship plants - thats part of why I have 4 plant tables setup even though we're really only using two at the moment. Our website is built around WYSIWYG coral sales and we'll be picking up online again once things warm up.

I'd like to bring in more shrimps - but with only twelve 15g tanks to play with I'm taking things slow - I really want those tanks running about a year before I try anything more delicate or expensive than crystal reds, especially since I'm only there 1 day a week. I've got a few leads on some sources of imported shrimps but for the most part, our typical wholesalers don't carry much beyond the vanilla shrimps.

again - TPT isn't a competitor, any more than BAS, TFSRI, NHAS, PVAS, and the AGA are. Its a place where people get together. No business, anywhere, can plan to compete with individuals selling things privately - those individuals don't have the overhead of licenses, insurance, payroll, taxes, etc (is anybody paying MA state sales tax on those sales ? )

We carry a few brands of rimless tanks, but like many small shops, we don't have space for large inventory. So brands that require a direct purchase of a pallet of tanks all at one aren't feasible -- we stick with the brands our wholesalers carry, knowing that if we order it by Sunday we'll have it by Wed without needing to store it and possibly break it.
Especially since we still have a storage unit full of stuff from when we moved that we just don't have space for.

Eventually we'll be carrying more higher priced fishes (locally bred apistos and rams for example) but nowhere near the prices of the saltwater fishes or corals. And you're right - having fish that other stores don't is key - that's that puts the Unique in UA - and that's a big focus for us.
I wish we could have more fw tanks -- we went from about fifty 15/20g tanks, eighteen 40g tanks, and twenty 75g tanks to a dozen 15g tanks. But that's a limit we're stuck with right now in this location.

I agree about the narrow aisles - I wish they were wider (I'm not exactly a small person) but that's part of trying to fit as much livestock as we can in a small footprint.

I do feed a little dry food - especially stix for the shrimps and plecos - when I first get in. But we also feed mostly frozen food, and the marine mix includes garlic and spirulina so we let it "meld" a little before feeding.
But so many of our fish need to be fed all day long - especially the pipefishes, seahorses, and anthias - that we're pretty much feeding somebody all day long.
That being said - nobody should be slam-banging thru the aisle while feeding.

so, all in all - thanks for the feedback, it's good to hear what people think. Some of what you suggested is already in the works, and all of it was listened to and appreciated.




Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedTankRookie View Post
Tough is right.
Merely suggestions, take them or leave them, it is only my perspective as a customer. There will be some local buyers who will try to keep the local shop going, but it usually isn't enough to keep going.
1. Plants can be bought from other forum members for less $$, more variety, and much greater convenience. The convenience is significant. Here are my two options: a) Drive 35 minutes to Tewksbury on a Saturday or Sunday to buy locally (which I did, once) b) sit on my couch and browse TPT, submit an order via paypal, and wait a few days for it to arrive. Option b has zero interference with the rest of my life. If you're going to sell plants, you better sell them online to supplement the local business.
2. FW shrimp buyers are usually trying to start their own colony, which translates into very little repeat business and the possibility of a local competitor (if the colony is successful) If you're going to sell FW shrimp, focus on the rarer higher priced varieties. Varieties we can't get from a dozen or more TPT members. You may have success with the cheaper shrimp during cold weather because of shipping problems, but once it warms up, and shipping becomes easy, there will be too many competitors.
3. Ditto on the snails. What would get me to drive to Tewksbury again? Colorful or horned nerite snails (reasonably priced). Something rare that you can't find all over TPT for low $.
4. TPT is your main competitor. Perhaps high volume and cheap prices can get you a piece of the pie (selling on TPT, not locally).
5. One more thing that may get me to drive to Tewksbury in the future: Nice competitively priced rimless tanks. Although, I can already get this from Aquaful and he is a bit closer to me. Others more local to Tewksbury may be interested though.

There just isn't enough margin in FW fauna/flora. Way too much volume is required to be profitable.
There are way too many competitors on TPT; hobbyists just trying to minimize their own out of pocket expense to the hobby. Too many FW flora/fauna can be raised without difficulty so many people have these to offer.

Basically, think about what make the salt water business successful: higher priced items (so more profit margin available), difficult to breed (so little availability from the average hobbyist), and massive variety (so you can have different live stock than the shop next door).
01-24-2014 06:41 PM
CrypticLifeStyle
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedTankRookie View Post
At least somebody replied. I was beginning to think I killed the thread

A good relationship with a shop is very valuable if you frequent shops. I'm not dedicated enough to the hobby to get to that level with any shop. My comments are from the point of view of a casual shopper. I won't go just to browse, I'll only go with the intent to purchase a specific item. That may change when I get my nano reef going

Without any established loyalty, the things I commented on become factors on which store I'll visit next time. I like the fact that Rich is a member of this forum, that counts for something. But the store in the opposite direction from me has more variety, a better layout, and nobody crashing into me on the way to feed fish. That counts for something too.

I'm certainly not trying to put anybody down. I was just providing honest feedback as a casual consumer.

I'm sure Drews comments are the same: free honest feedback for the owner of the store. Take it or leave it.
It was that dead silence that ultimately motivated me to give my own thoughts/experience's haha. Since i liquidated most of what i owned on here for free last summer i've become quite the casual shopper myself as i only have, can have a few small tanks i just don't have the tank space anymore to buy as much as i want to, and we have crap for options down here in the south shore.

We all have different experience's at different shops then each other. It's only natural thats going to happen. I never had many positive trips to tropical isle as far as getting help or someone to talk about what they have with, lovely pets has been 50/50, and if Steve the owner wasn't as nice as he was, and had such a positive upbeat attitude my visits there would dwindle. Ned is pretty cool, if you can get a chance to talk to him. Jay's i got a little tired of walking to the front end to grab him away from his buddy i think lives there haha. I just havn't personally had a bad experience with UA yet, and yeah i'm sure we all miss the skiptons location, and what it offered but unfortunately thats over.

I have no idea what store you go to, maybe i missed that part. Most of my life was spent in worcester county, and there wasn't really any options out there, maybe i just don't know of the place or its new :-?? I think the fact rich, and the aquaful guy talk on here is great. None of the other shop owners do that i'm aware of, and i like the fact rich is so deeply connected with BAS. He's one of us, he's very passionate about the hobby, and if you havn't had the chance visit him when he's actually working which is Saturdays, have a convo with him. He likes to talk :-)

I don't think you were intentionally putting him down, like i said we've all had our own experience's at various place's. I sure don't get any extra credit for what i say on here.
01-24-2014 05:29 PM
theurbantomato After all this being said...

I still have gotten to stock my shrimp tanks.

Any chance UA picked up any new shrimp or fill an order?
01-24-2014 04:56 PM
PlantedTankRookie At least somebody replied. I was beginning to think I killed the thread

A good relationship with a shop is very valuable if you frequent shops. I'm not dedicated enough to the hobby to get to that level with any shop. My comments are from the point of view of a casual shopper. I won't go just to browse, I'll only go with the intent to purchase a specific item. That may change when I get my nano reef going

Without any established loyalty, the things I commented on become factors on which store I'll visit next time. I like the fact that Rich is a member of this forum, that counts for something. But the store in the opposite direction from me has more variety, a better layout, and nobody crashing into me on the way to feed fish. That counts for something too.

I'm certainly not trying to put anybody down. I was just providing honest feedback as a casual consumer.

I'm sure Drews comments are the same: free honest feedback for the owner of the store. Take it or leave it.
01-24-2014 03:23 PM
CrypticLifeStyle I contemplated on whether or not i should feed in to this need to give my own experience's as a customer or not after reading the post above, and how i would do so without stirring up something, and staying neutral to both sides of it as you made good general points PlantedTankRookie that honestly can be said for almost every shop in the commonwealth at least from my perspective.

Convenience to you is different to me as a different type of customer. I hate buying livestock online as i want to see it in person, i want to envision it in my head while looking at it with the space that i've allocated in my tank which is sparse these day's, in my mind dimensionally as far as plants go, and for fish/shrimp i like viewing them in action to judge health, and character on a long term basis. Yes fish have character/personality's, and with experience you can get a good idea of such with some viewing time, something you cannot get through a picture or through typed words of others.

For the most part if am shopping for livestock, i have made some space in a tank, or just feel like rearranging a color arrangement of green, or red, brown or setup a new tank. That visual interaction sits better with me, then looking at pictures with or without rulers or guesstimates of size from a person i don't know or will ever meet.

Price's are always going to be cheaper from someone selling something they trimmed or ripped out of their own tank, or bred on their own, or just happened to get egg's to grow. Cant argue with that though after x-amount of years i find it's almost a 50/50 if it arrives in the condition, or envision of what it was being sold online for or i had in mind, and returns can be with some a real pain in the @**. Someone's online forum policy if it even exist's holds a lot less weight then a posted store policy. I can show up in person to argue, opposed to sending emails back, and forth.

I totally agree with the shrimp variety part, but only if such a local market exists other then what people say they want cause in reality i know in the past people have asked rich or rich has asked in the past what people want, they say it, he gets it, and they don't show up to buy it. Also from my experience on buying from tpt, and knowing the experience's of others in the MA section trying to start their own colony's you will run into the M/F ratio issues, and those that don't want you to have females from this site. There's a lot of lip service on here. Apparently even if they breed 1000 shrimp they never seem to have females to sell. Few, and far between, but others may have a different experience them myself or others i've spoken to. As in this case/topic Rich place's a order, the order goes in the tank, you pick out exactly what you want whether it's male or female, and you get it, and i don't have to deal with the DOA issue's/policy's should they arise, and god knows how long that can take or i can just drive up that day, and get it done or dealt with.

I love snails in my tank, but i guess for me personally while certain species of nerites are awesome/beautiful while some are bland or typical, for me i really don't care. Not a issue for me, but i do hear you on that, though to be fair he has had them in the past. Whats in or out vary's week to week.

2 weekends ago i brought up the rimless tank's thing with Brendan the owner, and rich, and i have to agree with their response. Given the space restraint of the location, and the extremely small margin of profit to be made it's just not logical for them to keep it in stock (though they can order for you), and UA, and Aquaful cater to 2 different crowds of people as far as freshwater goes to a degree. Even aquaful being pretty much the only shop that caters to that one crowd even he has issues getting sales.

I sort of agree with you on the saltwater things, but then again if you frequent the saltwater forums you'll find the same argument you made with tpt being cheaper. The forums are cheaper, for the exact reasons of response i gave for as to why. I've done almost all of my coral, and shrimp purchases via forums

The aisles are narrow, but so arn't a lot of the other better shops in the state. They went from skiptons, to the woburn location to the tewksbury location each time going from bigger to smaller. I know from my experience of moving all around this country 35x's going from huge house's to smaller house's to bigger house's to smaller house's sometimes you just get stuck making room for things you had at a bigger location, and reluctant of giving it up cause if it's got a purpose to serve later on, why get rid of it. In their case they got rid of a lot of thing's, and still had a lot or just holding onto for later plans. (I am just speculating on that from conversations or observations)
Being one that helped them breakdown their woburn location, and move it to tewksbury good lord they had a lot of stuff. Stuff in rooms i didn't even know they had (upstairs).
For me i keep 2x 10x20 storage unit's with my stuff i can't keep at my current house, not so great to do that with a store.

I'd say viewing experience can vary based on day, and time you go there. For me i like UA a hour before they close on Saturday nights, like any other LFS, opposed to the afternoon crunch time which is the same experience your going to have at lovely pets, tropical isle, ned's, jay's, water world when it existed, aquaful when the 8 of us went, or any other high volume/low volume shop with a decent reputation in MA or NH, and it's been that way from what i can remember at most of the locations at least since the 90's from what my memory can serve.

When it comes to saltwater livestock whether or not they eat is a big issue. It's much different then freshwater. Whether or not they are doing it while customers are there, or when they arn't i don't know, nor i could care less. Personally i'd like to see them being fed, and actually eat when it comes to that, and unlike a lot of shops there's actually employees running around doing things, opposed to sitting behind the desk or walking around clueless which isn't always a good sign, and usually how good the tanks look, or the health of the livestock goes in par with that from my experience.

It's a tight fit in there at times i agree, but it is what it is, and for me i don't get annoyed with it. It is what it is for the time being (i dont think they've actually had their official grand opening yet). I've had to walk around ladders, or buckets, brute barrels at other shops over the years you just get used to it, and it dosn't take away with the quality of the purchase or the advice you get at least from UA. Some people want that sparkly big chain look in shops, for me i don't mind.

My girlfriend thought i was crazy for driving the distance from now humarock to tewksbury, til she started going with me on trips to UA, and saw the interaction i have with Rich or Leon, or others. Anytime i've gone to UA me, and rich probably talk or discuss what he has in stock, or life in general for a good solid hour, or leon bringing me over to the frag tables, and shooting the sh*t about corals, lights or any other topic as we're both newbies in the saltwater aspect. An experience i have never had with anyone i've bought from on tpt's market section other then h4n or from any of the other LFS in MA or NH, and i've been a customer at various shops for 21 years. A lot of the other LFS minus aquaful since i only went there once i've been a customer for so many years, and i can guarantee none of them know my name, remember what i have, or care to shoot the sh*t for a hour each visit, or try not to sell me something i don't need or can get cheaper somewhere else. As a customer it's that unique experience that has made me loyal to UA, and i'm not picky, and your not going to have that experience at least from my own experience's, and from what i know from others in the MA section you just will never get from someone off this site, and for me that interaction/experience is what matters to me even if it costs a few extra bucks, not to mention for me i feel lazy when i do all my shopping online, though i am pretty guilty of it for xmas, when it comes to my aquatic hobbies or other passions i feel differently about it.

When i can walk out of that shop with a crypt bundle that when i separated at home into 7 plants for $5- that's competitive, or cheap enough for me i'm good with that.

I think we are lucky compared to a lot of state's with so many LFS options, and the amount of people in the hobbies or networked in, but those options are dwindling, and i find that a shame, and a part of me would love to see more support the good options we have. Whether or not our help change's the overall outcome of one's survivability or not isn't my objective or really on my mind, i think while good options exist we should try to support them when possible, as for me if i have to end up doing all my shopping online i'm going to be hating that, and ultimately miss those days of in person purchases, in person interactions. I could probably go on, and on with this but i think for now my wall of text will suffice haha
01-23-2014 02:27 PM
PlantedTankRookie While I'm in feed back mode:
The store itself is annoying. The aisles are too narrow.
A co-worker of mine ( a big saltwater spender) lives in Tewksbury and was ecstatic when you opened. After a few visits he has the same opinion as I do.
You can't even view a tank for 5 minutes before somebody tries to squeeze through. Most times it was a "fish ninja" on a feeding emergency mission.
You can't feed the fish before the store opens so your customers aren't dodging spastic fish ninjas?
I spent most of my time dodging staff and trying to navigate blocked aisles.
01-23-2014 02:13 PM
PlantedTankRookie
FW business in Boston

Tough is right.
Merely suggestions, take them or leave them, it is only my perspective as a customer. There will be some local buyers who will try to keep the local shop going, but it usually isn't enough to keep going.
1. Plants can be bought from other forum members for less $$, more variety, and much greater convenience. The convenience is significant. Here are my two options: a) Drive 35 minutes to Tewksbury on a Saturday or Sunday to buy locally (which I did, once) b) sit on my couch and browse TPT, submit an order via paypal, and wait a few days for it to arrive. Option b has zero interference with the rest of my life. If you're going to sell plants, you better sell them online to supplement the local business.
2. FW shrimp buyers are usually trying to start their own colony, which translates into very little repeat business and the possibility of a local competitor (if the colony is successful) If you're going to sell FW shrimp, focus on the rarer higher priced varieties. Varieties we can't get from a dozen or more TPT members. You may have success with the cheaper shrimp during cold weather because of shipping problems, but once it warms up, and shipping becomes easy, there will be too many competitors.
3. Ditto on the snails. What would get me to drive to Tewksbury again? Colorful or horned nerite snails (reasonably priced). Something rare that you can't find all over TPT for low $.
4. TPT is your main competitor. Perhaps high volume and cheap prices can get you a piece of the pie (selling on TPT, not locally).
5. One more thing that may get me to drive to Tewksbury in the future: Nice competitively priced rimless tanks. Although, I can already get this from Aquaful and he is a bit closer to me. Others more local to Tewksbury may be interested though.

There just isn't enough margin in FW fauna/flora. Way too much volume is required to be profitable.
There are way too many competitors on TPT; hobbyists just trying to minimize their own out of pocket expense to the hobby. Too many FW flora/fauna can be raised without difficulty so many people have these to offer.

Basically, think about what make the salt water business successful: higher priced items (so more profit margin available), difficult to breed (so little availability from the average hobbyist), and massive variety (so you can have different live stock than the shop next door).
01-23-2014 02:15 AM
theurbantomato This would be really sad. There isn't decent FW store in this area of suburban boston. Let's get this place going strong. Please show your support Boston!! B is truly one of the best owners in the area. Aquarium business is tuff.
01-23-2014 12:59 AM
0live That is truly unfortunate
01-22-2014 05:27 PM
redpaulhus Sadly, we just havent had enough fw traffic - on most Saturday's, my fw livestock sales dont cover my pay, never mind the cost of the livestock or the overhead. Saltwater has been subsidizing fw since we left Boston
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