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Exie 10-29-2012 01:07 PM

Recently got a job at a LFS
It's pretty interested making money from my hobby; especially some of the house rules that apply to us. We have some interesting ones like, Petsmart / Petco - we can mention them to say things like, "Just get your water tested every 2-3 days, you can go to petco or someone else if they're closer; and call us afterwards." But we can't mention them as competition in any way. And also, the internet doesn't exist (unless a customer brings it up first).

Anyone else work at an LFS, or have questions? THought it might be interesting to have a discussion :)

KrazyFish 10-29-2012 01:52 PM


Originally Posted by Exie (Post 2060458)
And also, the internet doesn't exist (unless a customer brings it up first).

Unfortunately the internet will eventually kill most if not all of these stores. I just don't know how my LFS can compete anymore. They definitely will need to get rid of all the cool display tanks and other excesses. I get pretty much everything on line and save %30; of course I love this but on the other hand I still love my LFS.

akdylpickles 10-29-2012 02:26 PM

I work at the only lfs in achorage. shippings pretty killer and you usually get a better deal buying fish at the store then getting them shipped up to you because of shipping costs.

Exie 10-29-2012 02:26 PM

Well we also sell service and are free, hands on, knowledge base. We have ~20,000 customers for on-site service per month.

02redz28 10-29-2012 02:50 PM

I worked at a number of LFS in Michigan for nearly a decade while I was in HS and undergrad. It was a great experience. I never thought of it as work. I got to talk to people all day about a hobby I love and had a loyal customer base. Unfortunately, every one of the 3 stores I worked at have since closed. The bottom line is that you need to have a service business and an online business in addition to the LFS location. It is a dynamic business and like anything else, evolve or die.

GraphicGr8s 10-29-2012 03:08 PM


Originally Posted by KrazyFish (Post 2060487)
Unfortunately the internet will eventually kill most if not all of these stores. I just don't know how my LFS can compete anymore. They definitely will need to get rid of all the cool display tanks and other excesses. I get pretty much everything on line and save %30; of course I love this but on the other hand I still love my LFS.

I rarely buy anything online if I can get it local for about the same or maybe a little more. If I wanted to wait 3 days I'd.... If I wanted it in 3 days I'd go to the store and get it on the third day. When I want it I want it. LFS should be open 24/7 so I can get what I want at 3 am. I've found that when shipping is added the price is about the same as the LFS or more. Plus I can ask about unfamiliar products and get advice if needed. Add to that if there is a problem I can go down the same day/next day and get it resolved. Not so online. You have to ship it back and wait. And wait some more. Pain in the gravel.
It's a matter of finding an LFS that you trust. I've got 2. One is 45 minutes away but I like the service and the people. Under the old ownership they had some odd things I liked. Under the new it's not bad. The quality if merchandise and knowledge of staff is excellent in my experience. Other is about 20 minutes from work. Nice modern shop. Well managed. Quality stuff and staff. Closer so I don't mind taking a ride over after I pick up my son. Nice for a spur of the moment trip. Sure Petco and Petsupermarket and Petsmart are around. Just don't like Big Box Stores with morons manning it.

The feedback and advice are worth the little extra cost. If they aren't really busy they are happy to talk about your situation. Even if they are busy they'll do their best to talk to you. Try that online. Sure forums are great. But I want an answer. NOW!

PinkRasbora 10-29-2012 08:41 PM

Thought about buying an existing LFS once then I moved and the idea didnt seem good anymore. Working at a chain fish store I think would drive me and the owners nuts because I would want to fix all the misgivings.

VivaDaWolf 10-29-2012 11:15 PM

I work at said chain pet store...expect to explain your heart out on things like nitrogen cycle, stocking density, tank size recommendations...

..and have 90% of people listen to none of it.

acitydweller 10-29-2012 11:30 PM

personally i feel LFS fall short of being passionate about their products they sell. i suppose the same can apply to most retail shops. lack of expertise, depth of the hobby or the simple act of admitting you simply dont know are all problems i find.

I have covered a majority of the LFS in the tristate vicinity over the past few years and see this all the time. its the same when shopping for cars, gadgets and even home renovations when youve already planned out projects and meet contractors explaining only "old school" methods...

Personally, i would buy a canister from a LFS if i were sold it... and i mean having the enhancements and comparison betwen other makes explained to me rather than me scouring the internet for all these facts then reading dozens of reviews, which inevitably will be the case anyway.

The economy is in the pits now and businesses cant rest of the laurels of products selling themselves anymore.. people actually have to start working and selling if they are in retail. hello?!?!

Exie 10-30-2012 12:54 AM

Well like I said, I'm new to the store (but not the hobby) and we sell fresh and salt; so I often don't know. I'm also super poor, so unless its something you'd see in a budget build or my specific tank (heavy plant loach tank), I'm not going to know the equipment.

And I'll tell that to my customers. "I'm sorry, I only know basic information about X; I'm new to the store and still learning information outside of my specialty. I can go find Bob for you, they're our specialist on X."

If you went into a store that has 500+ varieties of fish on hand at all times, hundreds of corals, thousands of pieces of equipment by hundreds of brands..... and someone said they knew it all, would you believe them?

Well there are 3 people at my store who know everything, but one is the owner and has been doing the fish thing for 50 years, and the other two are his relatives.

Also, I don't think that speciality, high end shops will ever go out of business (nor will mega stores like Walmart, but thats a different can of worms), because they offer something specific to a generally upper-class patron who can spare the extra 15% or whatever is tacked on by the LFS vs online. And its an emotional experience. You can walk down an isle, hundreds of items on both sides of you and maybe take in 10% of them - it would take hours to get that kind of product immersion online. And then you pick one up (emotional attachment), someone explains its perks (more emotional attachment), you feel like "wow this is MINE" because your'e holding it; and its suddenly more superior to the others. There's a lot to be said for shopping in person.

ScholasticSpastic 10-30-2012 03:34 AM

I just got a job at an LFS in Oregon. Prior to that worked at a Petco in the aquatics department for over a year. We don't have so many rules.

I do think fish stores are likely to survive the internet, though. People want to look at their fish before they buy them. A pet of any sort isn't something you're likely to want to purchase anonymously from an unseen collection. Also, as stated earlier, shipping adds a LOT to the cost. It's almost always cheaper to buy locally than to get a heavily discounted internet fish.

Fish stores are also a great place to get the sort of product help that you absolutely cannot get online and are unlikely to get over the phone from a vendor's phone bank of English-fluent Philipinos.

I did just order some shrimp online, but that's because I couldn't find a local source for them. I'll probably wind up selling their offspring through the store.

Very proud of the fully planted display tank the owner let me adopt. I completely re-aquascaped it and it's looking fantastic. 180 US gallons of water, CO2 injection, fantastic wood, and I had my pick of plants. Unfortunately, I've insisted on quarantining all fish to go into it and we don't always have a spare tank for that. So it's currently stocked with seven corydoras and a betta.

Zuni 10-30-2012 03:54 AM

The variety of fish at my LFS is much better than any petco or petsmart, although its also more expensive.
I try to buy most of my stock there but sometimes their. prices are too crazy.
8 dollars for ONE cherry shrimp. For the price of 5 shrimp there, I got 40 shipped to my door for less.
Thats the only thing though, most of the fish are reasonably priced.

Ebi 10-30-2012 04:07 AM

I'm a college student, 3rd year. An worked at LFS's for the past 5 years..
One in hawaii and currently now in Utah.

Yeahh.. Although we have a decent selection of fish and the best aquatic plants in the state, the internet will take its % of customers away from us.

It's cool how we're getting the community to support "Local" then these big trade mark names.

Razorworm 10-30-2012 10:25 AM

I try to get to one of the two LFS near me once a week or so. Even if not buying, I go to look and every time , I walk out having learned something. I NEVER walked out of a "big box" feeling like I learned anything. I happily go way out of my way to patronize my LFS. As for the internet, if it dried up and went bye bye, I would not loose a wink. I would however miss this site:tongue:

acitydweller 10-30-2012 11:06 AM

Yes, shopping online is pretty impersonal. Great for some things but not for others.

In livestock, being able to select by gender, coloration, finnage, and other signs of quality may not be appreciated by the average price and having someone pick a mix of good and not so suits them fine. Personally indent have hundreds of gallons of tank space to spare so selecting a few fine specimens are a plus for me, more so with inverts... As I would happily see beautiful shrimp breed and not have any ugly ones have offspring. Sort of defeats the purpose. Lfs is my preference in keeping these businesses and buying options around...

Exie, by the first week, you get a sense of what the more popular fish are so learn about them, their environment, what their compatible with, their temperament and care requirement. These should be a minimum... Then you can branch out on the breeds and expand your knowledge that way as you would be building on what you already learned. Good luck. A new job is always exciting.

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