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Corporate Pet Stores

2619 Views 32 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  Axelrodi202
How is it...that the people that work in Petsmart and Petco know absolutely NOTHING about the animals/fish they're working with. Ok, I'll give them some credit...they know the bare basics..... Corporate's logic seems to be, hire people that we can train, not people that are already educated and that will have their own opinions......which I can understand.....if they would actually take the time to train and educate them properly...but Obviously they don't. The one person at my petsmart that does know a lot about fish, actually has to play dumb to keep his job. It drives me absolutely crazy. Wether its the salad being fed to the savannah monitors (which is the aquarium equivilent of feeding white cloud tetras crickets), or the purple waffle plant being sold as an aquatic plant, the ignorance never ceases to amaze me....and what REALLY is fantastic, is the attitude you get when you call them on it. What kind of petstore, hires employees, that know nothing about what they're selling? I don't know everything, and I still have a TON to learn....but I know a hell of a lot more than the employees at these stores. It makes me very, very sad. Am I wrong?
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You are not wrong. That makes me very frustrated as well.

There's only 1 "knowledgeable" person in the fish department at my local petsmart. By knowledgeable, i mean that he knows more than the other employees - but still don't know squat about fish.

It really annoys me that they sell those "aquatic" plants in the tubes. It pisses me off that they can fool people in to thinking that those are true aquatics, even though they're just house plants.
Very true. When I was about 17-18 I applied to work at Petsmart, which would have been my first job. At that point I was already breeding Discus and was pretty knowledgeably about the hobby. They interviewed me but never called me back. The person they did hire was a little older but knew almost nothing about fish.
I know what you mean, but if you think about it, highly qualified people are in pretty short supply. There aren't many people that keep aquariums and reptiles and are serious enough about it to do lots of research and really know the topic. I work at a small locally-owned pet store and we're pretty picky about who works with the animals, and I can tell you that knowledgeable people are few and far between.

Think of it this way: an employee who doesn't know anything about aquariums that will sell anything to anyone will bring in more money. But an employee that knows his stuff and won't try to sell an Oscar to the guy with a guppy tank probably won't be as profitable to the store. But IME, the latter employee will bring back more return customers because the customers realize that that employee won't lead them into an aquatic disaster.
Think of it this way: an employee who doesn't know anything about aquariums that will sell anything to anyone will bring in more money. But an employee that knows his stuff and won't try to sell an Oscar to the guy with a guppy tank probably won't be as profitable to the store. But IME, the latter employee will bring back more return customers because the customers realize that that employee won't lead them into an aquatic disaster.
That is why you see so many people on craiglist selling their 20-30G tanks with a 12" Pleco and 6 Bala Sharks. Maybe that is an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.
Unfortunately you're going to find a lot of people being overlooked for jobs they might be qualified for and not just in the pet industry. It is just more important IMO for this industry because you can end up killing something if you aren't right. I would never ever take the word of someone working at Petsmart, Wal-Mart or the other chain stores regarding fish, plants, food or anything else when I have better sources of information at web sites like this one and magazines such as Tropical Fish Hobbyist.
They hire people who don't know anything partially because they can pay them less than someone who is already an expert. I had a friend get fired from Petco because he kept bothering the manager about wanting to give medications to the sick fish. The manager would not treat fish that were sick because it was cheaper to just let them die. Those stores pay such a low price for the fish they get that it is not worth it to them to put a lot of money into keeping them healthy--it is cheaper to throw out the bad ones and buy more. It is sad, but to that kind of store, it really isn't about the pets; it's about the money.

But the problem is not only with corporate stores. I interviewed once at a small, locally owned fish and parrot store. I tried to impress the owner with how much I knew about the fish and the birds, and she thanked me very much and said she was looking for someone who didn't know anything because then she could train them without them questioning her methods. Which I found very questionable--she had a baby parrot in there once when I went in, and it had only one wing clipped so that it could only fly in circles, and it took a nose dive off the tall front counter and ended up breaking a wing and also needing stitches! All because it was off balance from the bad clip job and no one was watching it while it was loose. I was also told at that store that it is nearly impossible to keep angelfish alive, and that live plants are a waste of money because they always die. And when I bought some very expensive pieces of live rock from them for my salt tank, they pulled them out of the tank, wrapped them in newspaper, and sent me home with them dry! They assured me it was fine. When I got home, the nice mushroom corals on the rocks--the reason I bought them!--were of course dead. I started shopping elsewhere.
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That is why you see so many people on craiglist selling their 20-30G tanks with a 12" Pleco and 6 Bala Sharks. Maybe that is an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.
Nah, I've actually heard worse than that. For example, the guy who has 12 piranha in his 55g. Or the one with some 40 goldfish in a 10g (her excuse is "well, you do it here at the pet store". I can't explain to her that the fish aren't there for more than a week and we do massive wc's to keep up with them). Or the guy that has...brace yourself...5 oscars, 12 plecos and 2 pacus in a 15 gallon. I about voided my bowels when I heard that one :eek:
I about voided my bowels when I heard that one :eek:
Too good not to be quoted. Guess you hear everything working at a pet store.
By the way, if this is kept fairly civil, the mods may not shut this one down ;)
I do have to give my two local Petsmart stores credit for having clean tanks and I rarely ever see dead fish. They have a fairly good selection of plants too. I just don't ever talk to the employees. They are better than my lfs that I can walk to. They have dead fish and algae blooms in their tanks all the time. They also sell BN Pleco for almost $20.
Since my LFS here is run just like a corporate store (and costs about 3X as much, which would be ok if they acted like an LFS and had good stock and stood behind their livestock instead of offering you 1/2 the replacement cost if it dies immediately after you get it home), I have gotten to the point of frequenting my local Petsmart b/c at least I can go in there and get great deals, like an Ecco 2236 for ~100 bucks.

I do frequent the other LFS around here though, even though it's only a marine store b/c they know their stuff and they constantly hook me up with deals on equipment b/c I'm buying their low-end stuff that the SW guys don't want (cheap heaters, CO2 tanks, old testing kits, etc.)
If actually been in this situation...

Little background: I've been into fish since 2nd or 3rd grade. Even in high school, my science projects dealt with fish. And at the time of my application, I was running at least 3 tanks mostly planted with various species.

I wanted extra money while I was teaching so I applied at both Petsmart and Petco. Petsmart never called back. I got the job at Petco and I still remember one of the managers saying that they don't usually hire fish people that are deep into the hobby. I saw some crazy stuff at times regarding the other employees. :eek:

Luckily this was a second job so when they started cutting back hours, I volunteered. After about a year or less, I quit to go work with one of the local fish stores in the area. It was still a second job, but with more flexible hours and it is where I shopped all the time anyway.
Its like dealing with used car salesmen.
Unfortunately Petco is all there is around here. They only keep the most basic freshwater fish in stock, but their tanks are all clean. They just don't have anyone there working that I can ever tell; last time I bought fish, the only employee I could find was a lady cleaning out the rat cages. She proceeded to net me some fish without washing her hands from the rat cages...eww...

Our Walmart still carries some fish, with the notorious labeling like...Pacu and Silver Dollars need a 20 gallon tank. I think Plecos need a 10 gallon tank by their labels lol. Oh yes, and bettas are extremely aggressive and must be kept in small containers alone, because they will kill ANY other fish they see. Hmm...I wonder how they'd do against a full grown oscar?
I think my favorite Petsmart experiance was a few years back. I stopped an employee about to sell a couple pangasius cats to a woman who was asking if they were a good addition to a 15 gallon tank. When I told the lady that they were a fish that easily hit a yard in length, the employee quickly pointed out the name tag tank on the tank which stated that they only got eight inches. I told here that was wrong they got much much bigger than that and that all the pangasius we had in the hobby were just overstock from food fish aquaculture farms. And then she it me with the funniest part, she stated very proudly that Petsmart had a special breeder that was producing ones that inly hit eight inches long, just as the sign said. That's when I mentioned I was the manager for a local tropical fish importer and asked her for the name of the breeder who produced the magical mini pangasius, because after dealing with nearly every tranship outfit and farm in the biz I'ld never heard of them. She got all redfaced and the customer walked away laughing after a gave her the name of a couple lfs that would sell her much more appropriate fish.

My favorite is Walmart. They'll sell you pangasius as a pet and if you walk across the store they'll sell it to you as dinner. If you've ever seen swai catfish for sale at your local grocery store, that's pangasius cat.
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Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any great local stores in my area. I'd have to drive an hour to get to LFS so I'm pretty much stuck with petsmartco. The one time I listened to a petco employee I got suckered in with one of those 'java ferns' in a tube.

There is one lfs fairly close but the prices are about double and they really only carry marine fish and supplies.

e-stores would be ok but the shipping in many cases is way too expensive.

I haven't been to Beldt's (about an hour drive) but I've read it isn't nearly what it used to be in the old days.
I've worked at Superpetz one summer. Believe me, fishes are not the only thing they rather let die and replace instead of medicating them!!!
The managers hired me as they actually liked that I knew so much about fishes and plants. It was basically a corporate decision that animals were left to die, didn't get the nutrition they needed etc. The employees knew better, but weren't allowed to do anything about it as it was "a waste of money".

Just last week I've been to Petsmart and the one store clerk didn't want to sell me the 4 Otos for my 16 gallon tank I asked for, as he was sure my algae problem couldn't be that bad. After I gave him a little "I don't have an algae problem, I know I need to supplement them with various foods w/ spirulina, cucumbers etc.", he was OK with it. So I thought he was fairly knowledgeable, but he couldn't catch a fish!! He squeezed them between net and glass, dropped one on the floor after he tried to detangle it from the net ("I don't want that one"), and probably squeezed several others to death or trapped under a huge rock they had sitting in the middle of the tank after he repeatedly lifted and dropped it trying to catch some Otos for me.

My Otos are doing great, but wow, many that are still left in that tank might not...

And at a huge local lfs here they have good quality fish, but they treat you depending on how much $$$ you buy, they don't guarantee their German Blue Rams or Otos and probably several other "delicate" fish and the equipment they sell is priced about 2-3x as high as any online offer!!
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Well here´s a sad story. I´ve had aquariums since I was 10 (almost 30 years ago). Back then there were only LFS stores, small mom and pop places, with varying degrees of quality, but you could find great fish in healthy condition.

Almost 10 years ago a franchise of large pet stores called Maskota arrived to disrupt the whole market and take it over. They sell puppy mill pups at exhorbitant prices (the least is priced at around 800 dlls), they sell crappy sick fish (mostly genetically deffective swordtails, mollies, guppies, goldfish and angels). You can always be certain to find sick or dead fish in their tanks, and of course all the equipment and goodies for your pets at high prices.

After these guys took over the market almost all LFS went out of business because all newbies went to buy their fish there, probably just killing any enthusiasm a new hobbyist could have after their hideous fish die in a day or two, because the store clerks of course know nothing about how to correctly setup and aquarium and didn´t care to take the time to explain a newbie how to do it.

I got out of the hobby for over 5 years, tired of not being able to find quality fish, which I still am suffering. Quarantine tanks are indispensable this days and all fish I buy have to not only go through it but also be treated for hidden deseases. Whereas years ago i rarely ever lost a fish soon after buying it, now I always have to buy 2 or 3 more than what I want because I always end up loosing a couple no matter how much care you give them. I hate mega stores... :(
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You just described exactly the problem we have here, although at some chain stores the fish quality is slightly better.
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