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More Aquarium Co-op stores


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On 7/15/2021 at 11:29 PM, CJz Fishes said:

Who else agrees that every state needs an Aquarium Co-op store? I know I sure do💯😁

I think it would be awesome if Co-Op could . . . co-op already existing stores, making them "affiliates." Keep staff and management under vision, guidance, and branding from Co-Op Headquarters. It would take a very special relationship, but I think that if it could work well _someplace_ then test patterns could be established, and more could be tried out.  

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On 7/16/2021 at 4:29 AM, CJz Fishes said:

Who else agrees that every state needs an Aquarium Co-op store? I know I sure do💯😁

Not just state, in the UK here and I'm crying out for an Aquarium Co-op franchise across the pond! 

And a career change haha. 

In all seriousness though a franchise like aquarium co-op would be a breath of fresh air, the LFSs here are usually either run and staffed by people who don't know or care much about anything other than selling stuff (or well meaning but inexperienced school kids), or run by passionate knowledgeable people who don't know how to run a business and barely scrape by. The exception I've found so far is a guy who runs his breeding and store operation out of his garage in his spare time and also has a well paying day job.

The chain pet stores are actually pretty good in terms of stock and (overpriced) dry goods etc but the staff mostly don't know much (though in my experience they will be the first to admit it and just Google stuff for you if you ask them a question). 

Large garden centres often have a decent enough fish section and seem to employ more experienced/knowledgeable staff but they normally are really small and a bit of an afterthought from the rest of the store and again are a bit overpriced.  

Having a brand like aquarium co-op that takes all the good things of each option into one, with their own well designed products or at least third party products that they actually test and recommend would just be amazing. 

Anyway sorry about the essay, I just really want an Aquarium Co-op here! 

 

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On 7/15/2021 at 11:41 PM, Fish Folk said:

I think it would be awesome if Co-Op could . . . co-op already existing stores, making them "affiliates." Keep staff and management under vision, guidance, and branding from Co-Op Headquarters. It would take a very special relationship, but I think that if it could work well _someplace_ then test patterns could be established, and more could be tried out.  

Franchised coop highly supervised. Yup I’d be there in a heartbeat 

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There have been a few attempts at chain aquarium stores here in the Delaware Valley, but all have failed. Predatory Fins (currently in Florida but moving north soon) is trying to start up a chain operation now and we'll have to see how it goes for them. I'm not wildly optimistic about their chances of success. Most of the attempts here to start chains were in the seventies and eighties. Martin's Aquarium then in  Jenkintown, PA opened a chain store in Cherry Hill, NJ but ended up losing both stores. There was a larger chain (eight to ten stores I believe) of small aquarium stores whose name escapes me. They had a store in the Airport Circle that was run by a young Hippie-type couple who later opened an independent store in Washington Township after that chain went under. 

Chain stores work in principle by giving the stores more buying power. If you're ordering for ten stores you can buy more and pay less for each item which then lets you undercut your competition. But for that to work you need everything sent to one central location and then redistributed from there. The warehousing and transportation costs then have to be passed on and that's where you run into trouble.

If you could create a large breeding facility and raise your own stock, and use that facility as a hub, you could probably run satellite stores off of that main store supplying adjacent areas, but you'd want each satellite store maybe thirty miles or so apart so they weren't cannibalizing one another. That big facility would have to be in a cost-contained location also. It's not something you could just pick up and move easily if costs increased. A series of those breeding hubs and satellite stores spread across the country could work, but the startup costs are insane. 

To build a national or international chain, transportation costs start to spiral out of control. Loading up a van and driving thirty miles isn't terribly expensive. Moving something from Seattle to Florida is a whole different story. And you're competing against online retailers now. It's a nice idea, but I'm just not sure how practical a chain concept is for aquarium stores these days unless you're breeding and raising the fish yourself.

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Of course it would be cool but I'd settle for just a nice LFS. It's a difficult undertaking to get one up and running. Cory's touched on some of the things involved. You need people with a passion for the hobby who also understand business. You have to pay employees a livable wage. If you pay about the same as they'd make at mcdonalds then they are going to take the job as seriously as they would flipping burgers and won't have any issue calling off on the weekends. There's lots of things to consider.

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