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Old 07-18-2019, 02:53 AM
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What do you think about our hobby?

Is it just me or the hobby just not the same community . I been in the hobby for over 40 yrs. I never saw no LFS back then. Now it's pretty much a ghost town. Today we have online is probably part of reason. Second high rents. Where is everybody ? I know the summer is here and it's the slowest time of season. Even I'll be away, But just don't see the frag swaps or talk about trades like the old days. All I see how much coral gone up. Yes, harder and less coming into trade with restrictions. But aquaculture should be picking up the slack. I don't know what happen even the reef a palooza this year was down. The community what kept this hobby going. Wonder if LFS will ever comeback. I think its going to take someone that hits the lottery and loves the hobby is only person can survive a LFS. Too tough to make it in todays world. What's your opinion.?
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Old 07-18-2019, 11:21 AM
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I would be interested as well.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:13 PM
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The internet has taken a big bite out of LFS, as it has for a lot of other business too. I think for areas where it's expensive to operate, high costs, online has forced them to either lower their margins, move to a cheaper location or get out of business altogether, with the later being the more common thing. Plus you throw in the ability for online places to be able to get more different items/livestock than what most LFS can carry, or possibly even have access too, it makes it very hard to keep a LFS going. I see a lot of stores in the city that have been empty for a long time or just closed down. The model has changed, and yes it's very hard to make it in today world, trying to compete with Amazon and such, but are they really different than says Sears or JC Penny was back 100 years ago?

I think the problem with the swap is everyone is doing them. So for something that was kinda special, seeing things or people once or twice a year, it has now become common place and if you miss one there is another one right around the corner.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:46 PM
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I jumped into this hobby a year ago and I love. Since I’ve been in I’ve seen three lfs go out of business. And it is very sad. Personally when it comes to live stock I won’t order online I need to see the fish or coral first hand.
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Old 07-18-2019, 04:47 PM
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Agree with all the above. Unfortunately for LFS, this is a hobby and trading, selling on the side from the basement or home is what makes it a hobby and fun. Have not sold corals as of yet, but I guess as corals grow why wouldn't I. The other part of it is that the equipment is so expensive, it makes it so compelling to do this for anybody.

I think a LFS has to become a destination for customers. a real reason to want to come in. Perhaps selling mostly high end hard to get corals, maybe a touch tank for families to enjoy, etc. Some LFS, the fish look terrible and very unattractive to buy anything and making the entire store feeling like a bad experience in general. Not blaming any LFS, there are alot of reasons for this.

This is not an easy hobby for long term success and not a straight line in terms of advice and help. So many times I wanted to throw in the towel and I have a ton of patience. Quite sure many have thrown in the towel that are not on the forums and that we do not see. LFS has to be so good at giving correct advice, helping customers along and bring new people into the hobby to replace the dropouts. Not helping that it is a very expensive hobby with high risk of failure without due diligence on a consistence basis. Would be so much better for the hobby if great LED lights, pumps, etc were $199 and under. LFS seem to be a victim of the high price points of great equipment known to do a great job but not helping to build a wide, profitable customer base. Would love to get some of the new stuff out there from Apex, Triton etc.....but do I really want to pluck down another 600 bucks or so? Rather have a few nice dinners and run the same old equip. Sure, it would be cool to have the new stuff but only at $199 am I in for sure. So now I wish my corals would grow faster to make a few bucks and let the hobby pay for itself. Vicious cycle.

Now coral prices seem to have gone thru the roof. I think LFS have to accept that this is sadly mostly a high end hobby and should cater to those who can afford otherwise it is simply a non profitable race to the bottom with no floor.

Last edited by Charley; 07-18-2019 at 05:15 PM..
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Old 07-18-2019, 04:54 PM
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To me the, biggest reason, which is overlooked, maybe because we are all guilty of it is the internet, not amazon or brs per se, but these message boards, Craig’s list etc. I’m the 90’s when I wanted a tank, and I didn’t know anyone getting rid of one, I more or less had no choice but to go to the lfs and buy one, as well as lighting, skimmer etc.

When I wanted a bigger tank, or different lighting, I had to go buy new again, and the stuff I already had either stayed up and running, went into storage, or to the trash. When I was done with it, it was done. But now with the prevalence of the online message boards, I can see my old stuff, thus negating the next person looking to get into it, from going to the lfs and buying it all over for them. For me as well, if I want something, I can look on here , or craigslist, and buy and take something out of someone lfs closet, they weren’t using anymore, instead of buying it new at the lfs.

I guess best example would be a car. If cars only ran 5 years before becoming scrap metal, everyone would have to buy new and dealerships would be more plentiful. But there is the option to buy used, which lowers the demand for new cars, because there is another option other than new.

Also, another thing I believe hurts is the high price point items. If I had a 125 in the 90s, I bought a retrofit t5, for 300-400, and changed bulbs, that’s it. Left more money for livestock, other items etc. now, with 400 dollar less that cover an 18x18 area (to light a 125 tank, it went from 400 to 1600 just like that) apex, and the terrible Margins on them at the lfs, I’m. It sure why an lfs would push it. If a customer comes in with 800 dollars of money budgeted to spend, why would I sell an apex that will eat that budget and net me 80 bucks (mark up on those suck) when I can sell them more live rock, fish and frags and more of that 800 will end up in my pocket, not Neptune .

Last edited by saltykid85; 07-18-2019 at 05:03 PM.. Reason: Spelling
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Old 07-18-2019, 04:59 PM
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Lastly, I agree, rap was down. To me, the concept is gone. It’s not an experience, but a big store. A store you have to pay $20 a person ($80 an average family of 4) to get into, only to go spend money at a bunch of little stores, just like paying a fee to enter a mall.

There isn’t anything to learn, classes to take part in etc. they do have speakers, but one of them has been doing it every single year I can remember, and the other one is a ceo of online retailer, people go to these to learn about reef, not building a .com business.

Would be like going to Disney, paying the $100 park fee, and the only thing in park were shops and eatery’s. That’s nice to have, but what draws people is the experience , a chance to learn or do something they don’t normally get to do ima regular Saturday at a pet store .

Last edited by saltykid85; 07-18-2019 at 05:05 PM..
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:07 PM
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so would you say that the LFS should maybe try to create new revenue streams? maybe hop onto the subscription business model. @prestigeaquatics- what do you think about selling memberships to 4 frags a month for x amount of money (something that works for you as well as the consumer)

just a thought from one business owner to another. I'd like to hear your thoughts on that
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Old 07-19-2019, 11:08 AM
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I think it would be a good idea for LFS to have like a monthly meetup where they can raffle off a prize but charge a fee like $10-20 bucks a person and give the people who attend a discounted price on anything they buy. It's simple a store does not have good selection it will fail,. if a store has good selection but prices are too high it will fail..
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Old 07-19-2019, 12:31 PM
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Why are there posts missing on this thread now? People want selection and products to be in stock. When I wanted my Vortech mp10 I called numerous stores only place that had it in stock was manhattan aquarium. So I got it from them. As of recent I go to New York reef aquatic for livestock. I was there two days ago and they’re stocking Eco-Tech radions. Nyos skimmers and reactors even Neptune apex. Though I didn’t check the prices this would make me go there before going online and ordering. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for something you ordered.
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