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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am seriously considering starting my own business in retailing aquarium related products such as chemicals like flourish decorations filters heaters and what not.

Now I am looking for advice right now and am considering starting an ebay company first to see how that works then maybe opening a a walk-in store with tanks and livestock things I would have a hard time selling online.

I have already put in the paperwork to get my federal TIN and state registration and have found a few wholesaler sites that only sell to registered businesses so I have a way to get product at cost so I can easily sell for a profit but not a huge mark up that would make it unattrative.

Advice is greatly needed and appreciated at this point because I know the people I will be trying to sell to is people just like yourselves.
 

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The best way to make a small fortune is to open an aquarium store with a large fortune.

An eBay store is a totally different beast than a brick and mortar store. With a B&M you will have to be prepared to work a minimum of 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for at least 2-3 years. Then you can take a couple of days off. Not each week but each year.

If you have no business experience or experience in the aquarium trade then get both before trying to start either type of store.
 

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My question is how do you get started in buying from wholesalers? I mean, is there a list of companies?
yes, there is a list. it's super topsecret! and you only get to see it by invitation. (typically after you've made your small fortune in debt):icon_wink
 

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You are in a good location to supply the west coast. An online store would be doable. As long as it was created well, take amazon.com for example.
Then you would need customer service, shipping and handling work, storage...you know. I notice alot of consumers are shopping online more and more. Why not? It's one more step towards laziness. The American Dream :D
 

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from what i have heard from people who have/owned fish stores it is VERY!
hard to start one and keeping it open or staying out of debt. im talking about a walk-in fish store, if you arent a popular place and have regular people buying things from you your going to start losing money quickly wholesale prices or not, most if not all wholesalers (last time i looked) have a 5k minimum order. some people start a fish store thinking that they can just put in one order and breed those fish to keep there stock going, i may be wrong but that rarely works the way they plan.
 

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You'd have to do an online store and a physical store to compete.. Everybody is doing it now. And you'd have to offer things that the other stores (petCo, petSmart etc) don't offer.

And the other thing is LOcation, Location, Location... Obviously, you'd want to be where a lot of people can come and buy your stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
These are all awesome posts and ideas. Right now I am definitely going to do the ebay store. I have written letters to several manufactures like tetra, fluval, and flourish. the only one to write me back was tetra and they want my TIN "storage capacity" and approximate business per year. So I don't think they will take me seriously. I found an online wholesaler that I can buy from that I am going to try out I just have to get the official form in the mail with my TIN on it so I can fax it to the guys I am probably going to go with.
 

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The best way to make a small fortune is to open an aquarium store with a large fortune.

An eBay store is a totally different beast than a brick and mortar store. With a B&M you will have to be prepared to work a minimum of 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for at least 2-3 years. Then you can take a couple of days off. Not each week but each year.

If you have no business experience or experience in the aquarium trade then get both before trying to start either type of store.
i couldn't have said it any better.
 

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Why don't you get a part time gig at a popular LFS? You'll quickly learn about the local suppliers and how the business generally works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
that is a really good idea I will probably shoot for that during the summer because now I am taking classes at the community college
 

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I think you will find that for most low volume buyers that the wholesale price is very close to what we can buy for from most any of the larger on-line shops.
 

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I think you will find that for most low volume buyers that the wholesale price is very close to what we can buy for from most any of the larger on-line shops.
Rex makes an excellent point. I buy from computer equipment wholesale distributors for my company, and I'm often amazed that even with the free drop shipping my distributor offers through UPS, I can often get things cheaper from online retail sellers. another thing you should know about buying wholesale is you don't always get the best price due to volume of product you resell, rather you can actually get better pricing based on your payment history. for example I get the same wholesale tier pricing for one item paying net-30 as my competitor pays for a pallet of items paying net-90. so it's cheaper in the long run to arrange for a bank to finance your accounts payable debt, then having one of your wholesalers do it.
 

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Retail is tough. You might have better luck looking into tank maintenance/service and/or the high end of the market. At least where I live those are the type of shops that seem to last - the smaller more general fish stores don't stay around long.
 

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since i've never owned or worked at a retail aquaria store, take everything i say with a grain of salt. heh. having said that, i do work on the front end of business for a large corporation trying to turn small projects and technologies into large ones. besides getting a business plan together (which is the first thing you should do)...

- keep your day job

- in the beginning, stay small and extremely focused. specialize and find a niche (e.g., ADA products, glassware, CO2 accessories, ferts, whatever, etc). selling bread n' butter stuff (filters, heaters) means your competition is every online and brick/mortar out there. sell products not readily found at the big retailers. how about being an american distributor for japanese or european aquaria products?

- since economies of scale generally work against you compared to large discount outlets and online retailers, price isn't much of a discriminator. at the very least, make price comparable to those found online.

- attempt to gain market share by providing the best customer support. this is your discriminator. customer reputation and recommendations go a long way. be responsive and available. (3 days to answer an email is bad, being able to speak to someone on the phone is good. same day shipment is good)

- keep a professional-looking webpage. this is usually the customers’ first impression of your company. clear contact information is good. prices easily located. product pictures. clear shipping, return, etc policies reduce buying uncertainty. above all, keep it up to date.

-snafu
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I want to get into building custom aquariums. I've done a couple but nothing big and impressive.
 

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I agree- you need to find a niche market first-It's always the easiest to market and has the least competition (and in return better margins) There is a great book about online marketing. I will find it and post in a bit.
If you want to build tanks, consider ALSO building fish "superhighways" You could charge whatever you want for something so unique. just make sure you have good liability insurance!
 
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