Aquarium Business Owners' Question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Aquarium Business Owners' Question

I would appreciate it if the people that own aquariums as a business answer this question. Thank you. Ok, my question is, Is it hard to own an aquarium business and sell fauna,tanks,aquarium supplies, and other things that relate with fish? Because I want to be an aquarium businessman when i finish college, I'm currently in High School, sophomore, .
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 05:38 AM
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not much money in the pet store business... unless you can figure out how to cut a TON of overhead (stock deaths, electric, gas) i work at a LFS and i know the owner makes next to nothing


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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 05:44 AM
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LFS's come and go. To stay afloat you usually have to stock other pet supplies in most areas. Only in the most metropolitan of areas do fish only stores survive. Keeping small animals, dog/cat food, dogs/cats, birds, etc help keep your customer base big enough.

The real key to ANY business is indentifying a market niche that has room for you, marketing to that niche, and providing a way to survive 1-4 years without making a dime.

Oh, and tankd, a 20g tank is no place for malawi cichlids...
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 05:49 AM
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A lot of hole in the wall shops in my area sells illegal stock to survive. Other than that, they make crap.

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 05:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by over_stocked View Post
The real key to ANY business is indentifying a market niche ...

Yup! A good example of that would be Apple. They never invented the mp3 player. They took an existing product that had already been saturated in the market and differenciated themselves from their competitors. With that "niche", Apple created the Apple iPod.

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 06:06 AM
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work for petsmart.


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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 01:23 PM
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work for petsmart.
While this may sound a tad funny; this is quite valuable advice.

Before making plans to investing time and money into any business it would be truly valuable to get some hands on experience in the day to day operations. You may find it to be much more complex and much more 'grunt' work than you'd ever imagine.

In addition to a learning how a "big-box", national chain milks some money out of the market. It would also do you well to work for smaller, local store. Also, how a business functions during it's peak selling season can be quite different than it's off months. You need to look at both areas, and plan for both seasons.

If your area has an aquarium club: join it! Get to know the people, they can be a wealth of information. Telling you about what they like in local stores, and which one's they will shop at. They can also share some history about how many shops have gone out of business and had to close down. (That can be a real eye-opener!)
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Hay View Post
While this may sound a tad funny; this is quite valuable advice.

Before making plans to investing time and money into any business it would be truly valuable to get some hands on experience in the day to day operations. You may find it to be much more complex and much more 'grunt' work than you'd ever imagine.

In addition to a learning how a "big-box", national chain milks some money out of the market. It would also do you well to work for smaller, local store. Also, how a business functions during it's peak selling season can be quite different than it's off months. You need to look at both areas, and plan for both seasons.

If your area has an aquarium club: join it! Get to know the people, they can be a wealth of information. Telling you about what they like in local stores, and which one's they will shop at. They can also share some history about how many shops have gone out of business and had to close down. (That can be a real eye-opener!)
you got my intent...

I was half joking but also working for a big chain really is the only way to make some money in the pet industry. Maybe you can franchise a petsmart in you city. Notice how they cover all pets and not just fish. It'll be the only way you'll survive.


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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 03:45 PM
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In many metro areas fish only stores survive. Mpls has a great planted tank store that also has some reef stuff. Then there are places like AF and the like.

In my area, the only "lfs" also sells dogs and birds/small animals/reptiles. The fish only store lasted 3 years--which is likely the length their business plan accomodated for.

Find a niche. Fill it. Then MARKET, MARKET, MARKET. I am a paramedic by trade, but have degrees in political science, international studies, and mass comm, and worked as a fundraiser in politics for several years. Now, I think my wife and I are going to open a restraunt. The trouble is, we have the money finally, but do we want to risk losing it all? You have to be willing to risk losing it all....

Also, what kind of eatery do we make? I can make a menu for whatever... but what market needs us? You have a lot of questions to ask before you even consider it... And if you don't have the money, don't expect to have it for a while. Finding people to invest is NOT easy.

Further... If you need help, consult local small business groups. Find them by going to google and putting your "city" then small business, then try "state" small business. Many universities have groups to help.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 06:25 PM
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All great replies. I'm 30 and have always dreamed of opening a LFS, but I don't have the capital to risk and pour into it. It's a huge gamble because the overhead is so high. From the people I've talked to, the money is in the service operations which means hiring people with the know-how and having the vehicles/equipment. Money can be made on dry goods too, but with online competitors like Fosters and Smith and big stores like Petco/smart, it's hard to compete with their volume pricing. There is pretty much zero profit for livestock because the losses are so high. Stores mark-up fish 100-500% in hopes to break even.

If you can find a LFS where the owner is just tired and wants to sell you his/her store and customer base, then that's great. To start from scratch is hard. To me, LFS seem to do better in urban areas where there are more DINKs (double income no kids) households as these are the people who more often have the time and disposable income for the hobby. Living in a suburban area in middle America, fish keeping is seen by most as a kids' hobby (think guppies, bettas, platties, and goldfish).

Areas with large Asian populations have a good customer base because many Asian cultures keep fish because they think it will bring them good fortune. Downside is that they aren't keeping fish because they enjoy the hobby. They just think having some parrot cichlids, flower horns, and arrowanas will bring them riches.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 07:04 PM
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Could go work for Jeff and Mike in Houston.
They will do you well.

Regards,
Tom Barr




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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 08:23 PM
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The best managers for chains are ex petshop owners

I used to wholesale pet supplies and worked retail for a number of years. One of the chain honchos told me they liked hiring ex pet shop owners who loved the work but were tired of the business end of things. The chain automated the paperwork, taxes, accounting, etc. The new manager was free to do what they got into business for in the first place.
post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 08:32 PM
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Most pet stores actually have very good profit margin. However, their industry is also a low volume, low value products business.
Together with a high fixed overhead costs = risky business.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 09:34 PM
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You have gotten some sound advice. The business end of this hobby is risky. I have a good friend that owns a SW only fish store, and he struggles big time, where he makes his money is by the fact that he is also an importer and sells SW to some of the larger online site, as well as having his own online site, which is out of date because he is so busy he cant update it, nor can he afford to pay someone to manage it. According to him he clears about 200 a month profit from just the store, and he works more hours in a week than some people do in 2 weeks, 96 hour weeks are not uncommon for him.If you truly love this hobby enough to want to work in it my personal advice would be become a biologist of some kind and work for a large zoo or aquarium, the money will be better, the hours will be better and you may even get a nice benefit package. The Avg LFS struggles, and if your planning Fish only or Fish and plants that will be an even bigger Struggle, not to mention a sizable investment to get started i would guess 100,000+. Most LFS arnt really LFS they are pet stores in general.Fish,reptiles,dogs,cats,plants, etc. It is a lot to learn and a lot of work.But if it is really what you want to do apply yourself and Save money, and most of all be ready to work like a dog. no pun intended.
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-26-2008, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by over_stocked View Post
LFS's come and go. To stay afloat you usually have to stock other pet supplies in most areas. Only in the most metropolitan of areas do fish only stores survive. Keeping small animals, dog/cat food, dogs/cats, birds, etc help keep your customer base big enough.

The real key to ANY business is indentifying a market niche that has room for you, marketing to that niche, and providing a way to survive 1-4 years without making a dime.

Oh, and tankd, a 20g tank is no place for malawi cichlids...
lol, that was what I had in mind, ok 100g long tank?
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