What would it take to start a freshwater fish store?
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Old 05-24-2014, 05:55 AM   #1
Coastlife247
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What would it take to start a freshwater fish store?


I have a degree in Biology and have been keeping freshwater, planted freshwater, brackish, and saltwater tanks for over 5 years.
Freshwater experience including: Mollies, RCS, Tiger barbs, guoramis and cichlids both CA and African.
What would it take to start a freshwater fish store in an area 30+ miles away from the nearest petsmart/petco?


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Old 05-24-2014, 06:30 AM   #2
Diana
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$$$
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Old 05-24-2014, 06:33 AM   #3
Coastlife247
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
$$$

A fine answer. But general. So I would need a small business front plus maybe 10 running tanks to start?


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Old 05-24-2014, 07:16 AM   #4
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Besides $$$ you'll need business acumen, a business plan, good credit for a small business loan unless you are wealthy. The knowledge that you should also contact the small business administration in your state. All those other things you've listed are minor points.

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Old 05-24-2014, 07:39 AM   #5
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I am not a business person, so I can't answer with things like ^^^ above me for loans, financial, etc.

I can only say, keep the customer in mind when you do get opened up, or even before you open.

If I was opening a store, I'd have this mind set (if it's wrong, you know why I don't own a fish store)

A. Is there a need - By you saying that you're 30 miles away, I'd say yes. Maybe post in your "state" thread and see if people respond with "yes, I live near by, I'd love to shop at your store if you had one" (long shot, but eh, test the market right?)

B. When looking at your store front, maybe ask yourself: Does this look like a fish store? I know it seems like a stupid question, but hear me out. My favorite 2 fish stores (LFS) (aka not petco) are in VERY small strip malls. One is in a downtown type setting so I think it's just a long street with no alleys... *shakes head* Anyway, Some buildings won't even let you have that much water in it due to insurance. I know the building my work is in (um, lets just leave it as pizza delivery) is supposed to wash the building and the cement and the parking lot but it doesn't happen, and our business suffers accordingly. I hate to do someone elses job (if you catch my drift) So when looking for a real estate in which to rent/buy, think this: Can I make this look like a good CLEAN fish store. (Paint on the windows with cartoon fishies seriously brings in the kids/parents.. no joke)

C. Equipment: I've seen some on massive filtration systems and my favorite fish store (www.worldofwetpets.com) has each tank (large and small) on seperate filtration. I personally like the latter only due to if there's a sickness you've only shut down 1 .. maybe 2 species of fish, and not the whole system. I've also seen their display tanks with CO2 and lots of ferts (what you can accomplish) and also basic gravel "fish keeper" aquariums. I've realised now that some fish prefer that (like some cichlids) and if I see that in a non-cichlid tank I think they're just not trying hard enough to let customers envision their own tanks.


Ok so I'm gonna stop rambling now.
Sorry for typos - if you need to decypher what and of ^^^ means just let me know


TLDR: Think about what the customer is going to see when you enter and put yourself in their shoes. If they wouldn't buy from you, you wouldn't buy from you. You don't need fancy setups, but healthy ones!
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Old 05-24-2014, 07:55 AM   #6
nikonD70s
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i'd prolly say $$$ being the number one thing. and some good source for vendors. and id highly recommend an import license so you can import from diff countries to get the good stuff.

i would strongly recommend getting not so common rare stocks that makes people coming back and to stand out from other fish/pet stores.
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Old 05-24-2014, 12:03 PM   #7
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I would say that you would need to be out of your mind to open a tropical fish store in this day and age.

In thinking about the locally owned non-chain stores that are within about 1/2 an hour of me, there are only two left out of at least 10 that I can think of. Both of those are old time stores and also have general pet products.

Going out to places that I can get to in a couple of hours, there are some excellent places, but I got to make a special trip, and these places tend to be large again been there for years.

The simple fact of the matter is that it's almost impossible to compete with the large chains and the internet.

Now if you still want to try, I'd first say that your going to need to open a general pet store and carry all the other small pets, and dog and cat products. Very few small places can make it on fish alone.

As you can see, this is going to require a lot of capital, most of which is going to have to be supplied by you. Most banks are not too interested in lending money to a startup.

For fish you are going to need a lot of tanks and so on. Just look how a small place could easily have 30 plus tanks.

As for stock, you got to carry what will sell, so there is no point to having "not so common rare stocks" unless it's going to sell.
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Old 05-24-2014, 12:22 PM   #8
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besides money....

you will need atleast 30 tanks, filtration, foods, LOTS OF TIME. all the other things
that go with tanks.. some sort of racks or display cases to hold the tanks, lights,
heaters(or central heating depending on how you run your filtration)
also like stated above, if you planning on getting a store front you will
not be able to do just fish,,, not that you need other animals but supplies
for other animals. dog food, cat food, bird food and all the things that go with them.
also would suggest tons of advertising
plan on being in the red for the first year if not 2 yrs before you start making a solid profit.
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Old 05-24-2014, 01:21 PM   #9
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Beer, lots if beer to treat the headaches.

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Old 05-24-2014, 01:25 PM   #10
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Start like so many others doing online sales part time out of you home.
Expand stock when possible, condense c and retract when necessary.


Always have a tank in, fresh, brackish and marine cycling and ready for any surprises that come in with s shipment.



Recently met a guy who runs a coral store front, nice pleasant and well priced.
dude makes 50x his in store sales, online every day with little overhead.


Personally I'd say don't commit until you have more than 5 grand to spare as a start up cost even doing online sales out of home.




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Old 05-24-2014, 01:50 PM   #11
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I am a businessman and I could wear out my keyboard listing the problems and difficulties involved but this should suffice

Do yourself a favor and get a real job

If your desire is insatiable, breed a few fish in your garage and sell them to local hobbyists

That should cure you
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Old 05-24-2014, 02:14 PM   #12
Coastlife247
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeCasa View Post
I am a businessman and I could wear out my keyboard listing the problems and difficulties involved but this should suffice

Do yourself a favor and get a real job

If your desire is insatiable, breed a few fish in your garage and sell them to local hobbyists

That should cure you

Lol I have a real job. I work for wildlife and fisheries. This would be more of a transition to something that is a hobby to something that is a job. This isn't something I would rush into. Just an idea I've been mulling over and a few friends have brought up on occasion.


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Old 05-24-2014, 02:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurie View Post
I am not a business person, so I can't answer with things like ^^^ above me for loans, financial, etc.



I can only say, keep the customer in mind when you do get opened up, or even before you open.



If I was opening a store, I'd have this mind set (if it's wrong, you know why I don't own a fish store)



A. Is there a need - By you saying that you're 30 miles away, I'd say yes. Maybe post in your "state" thread and see if people respond with "yes, I live near by, I'd love to shop at your store if you had one" (long shot, but eh, test the market right?)



B. When looking at your store front, maybe ask yourself: Does this look like a fish store? I know it seems like a stupid question, but hear me out. My favorite 2 fish stores (LFS) (aka not petco) are in VERY small strip malls. One is in a downtown type setting so I think it's just a long street with no alleys... *shakes head* Anyway, Some buildings won't even let you have that much water in it due to insurance. I know the building my work is in (um, lets just leave it as pizza delivery) is supposed to wash the building and the cement and the parking lot but it doesn't happen, and our business suffers accordingly. I hate to do someone elses job (if you catch my drift) So when looking for a real estate in which to rent/buy, think this: Can I make this look like a good CLEAN fish store. (Paint on the windows with cartoon fishies seriously brings in the kids/parents.. no joke)



C. Equipment: I've seen some on massive filtration systems and my favorite fish store (www.worldofwetpets.com) has each tank (large and small) on seperate filtration. I personally like the latter only due to if there's a sickness you've only shut down 1 .. maybe 2 species of fish, and not the whole system. I've also seen their display tanks with CO2 and lots of ferts (what you can accomplish) and also basic gravel "fish keeper" aquariums. I've realised now that some fish prefer that (TLDR: Think about what the customer is going to see when you enter and put yourself in their shoes. If they wouldn't buy from you, you wouldn't buy from you. You don't need fancy setups, but healthy ones!

This is great info. I would have no problem starting out fish selling fish out of a garage online.
I have a potential business partner. A friend who has brought up the idea over the past couple years. He has the $$$ and the business know how to start up a new business.
I also would like to sell my aquarium keeping services along with fish. You know helping with a new setup, stocking solutions and cycling tanks for older wealthy people.
My local fish stores are an hour away and only one is owned by a guy with patience to answer all the tiny questions that new aquarist may have.
I was also considering helping people set up garden koi ponds/ arrowana ponds.
Just for fun here are my two current running tanks.
A 90 gallon Cichlid tank.

A 55 saltwater. (Up for 3 yrs)



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Old 05-24-2014, 02:39 PM   #14
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I would follow MeCasa's suggestion:
Build up a lot of business at home, sell on line and join all the local fish clubs and invite them for open house sort of meetings. The aquariums might be in your garage. Yes, get an import license. See if any of the local stores are willing to buy from you, find out their needs. Fill their needs, and also find out what is missing. Concentrate on that part that is missing, and see if the stores will help direct customers to you for the fish they do not want to carry.

Once you have some clientele and a few years of being in business decide if you really want a brick and mortar store, or if you want to expand the home business. You might decide to move to a property that will allow you to build a fish room (if you are not already on such a site).

The club I belong to has several members who do just that. One man concentrates on aquatic plants. The other two concentrate on fish. All of them have had open house sort of meetings for the local clubs (there are several in about 100 mile radius) at their house, so the dedicated hobbyists are aware of where they are and what they offer.
All three are big in the on line selling, Aquabid and several aquatic sites. (Probably here, though I do not know their on-line names)

If you are thinking about going into business with some friends get all the details on paper. Who owns what. Who pays for what. How each of you are compensated. What the legal structure of the business is. Allow for this to be renegotiated occasionally, and have it in writing how a partner can get out.
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Old 05-24-2014, 02:41 PM   #15
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I think we were posting at the same time...

Give talks (free) to the local clubs on a day when the public is invited.
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