- drive by traffic
- view from road
- Target demographic
And it's clear that #1 is better.
So I've been retail location hunting for probably 6 months. I've got it narrowed down to 2 that I could sign on this week. They are vastly different but both seem viable?
The locations are for a fish only retail store as in aquarium fish.
Location one: Dog Mecca
This place has 6 Dog/Cat related businesses in the same shopping center:
1. Dog Groomer
2. Dog Groomer
3. Cat Groomer
4. Water therapy for Dogs
5. Doggie daycare
6. Doggie Diner
It also has 2 restaurants, 1 indian food restaurant and a american food restaurant. All the tenants are interdependent businesses. About 20 businesses in all here.
910 sq ft
Asking Rent: $890 including NNN
1 year lease
Needs 1-1.5k in electrical work to do what I need it to do.
Always full parking lot. Averages 20 cars parking in the lot each hour.
Main draw is that there are already tons of pet people coming to this destination.
Location 2. Ghost Town. Other side of town.
This is a foreclosure property, that the landlord owns as of 2 weeks ago. No tenants are in there yet.
Asking Rent $600 including NNN
2 Months free rent.
3 Year lease with the option to renew at $750 for 3 more years. Also A clause that says I can walk away from the lease at any time.
Brand new tile floors.
All the electrical in the world
Car count 0. And could stay 0 for a couple years.
To take location 2, I'd have to be the marketing master as no one would accidently find me ever. Location 1, I would have passive customers find me. For $300 more a month. It also has much more to offer my customers than just my store.
Currently going in on Tuesday to negotiate Location one to see if I can get it down to $800 and 2 months free rent on a 2 year lease.
Anyone have any retail location advice?
- drive by traffic
- view from road
- Target demographic
And it's clear that #1 is better.
Yeah, that's been my decision so far. #2 is just luring me with the potential. #1 is more of a sure thing.
i don't think people will drive to your place in #2 because you offer an unique product. Been close to the pet store area is a double edge sword. People with dogs may be more open to having fish as additional pets. However it is very easy for them to branch into your business.
I will go with number 1 and offer dog treats to customers, or make your store dog friendly, some sort of "bring your dog in, get a free fish", or free dog treats with a in store purchase
No more unicorns.
Having dabble in being a fish enthusiast in the past, I know people who are into fish will go far and wide to find what they are looking for. I would drive a couple of hours to a hole-in-the-wall fish store if they had the blue tang fish I was looking for. So in that respect, you might be able to get away with the cheaper location.
On the flip side, using your 20 cars an hour, I have conservatively estimated that location #1 puts your store in front of about 6000 sets of eyes per month. You would have to turn $290 a month into at least 6000 impressions to make up the traffic difference. That is a small amount of advertising dollars to obtain that kind of reach.
If you were already established as the go-to store for fish enthusiasts you could probably get away location #2 because people would know of you and seek you out. Just getting your business started however, I would go with the more visible location.
Also this is probably marginal, but you will save a little bit on utilities at location #1 versus #2.
#1 is the clear winner for starting your business. #2 would be the clear winner if you were the established leader in the market in town and fed up with your current location. Put up sign that says "See us at our new location at XXXX" and profit.
#1 all the way for your situation.
I don't really have much to add, but I hope you continue to update us on your business as you progress. I was following your old FoH thread and I look forward to seeing how things turn out.
Opiate touched on this, but it's core to the decision. Is location important to specialty fish enthusiasts, or are they willing to go anywhere to a good specialty store? You might look at some of your competitors, and see what they are doing, location-wise. Also, you could research it on the internet.
No more unicorns.
Good luck with everything, and as McCheese said, keep us posted, I remember your posts in the old FoH forum also, I believe I commented on some of them (regarding how much to pay for lease and cams).
#1 seems like the best choice also.
That said, I don't really think that catering to specialty people is what the OP is looking for. Corndog could probably tell us what percentage of business comes from enthusiasts vs. people buying goldfish for their kids to kill.
$300 a month doesn't seem like a lot of money in the scope of things. I would definitely go for the better location.
Yeah I should have said "I don't know if" instead of "I don't think".
Wow, been busy searching the depths of the internet and calling in favors in the industry. Didn't realize this got this much attention!
I chose option #1. I got the keys today and negotiated, first contract hit my email a few hours ago, needs revisions as I want the door fixed and there is a leak outside in front of my store that should be addressed.
I think I did well considering the asking price was well below what the normal rent in that area is. I ended up getting $850 a month and $865 for the second year. With the concession that I got the rest of December free and 2 weeks in January Free. On top of that instead of first/last/deposit, I only had to put down the first 2 weeks plus deposit so $1250.
Hopefully by Friday my favor being called in will give me the sales data from the Petco that is 2 miles away. This can show me potential etc. Just useful.
As for demographics, I'm targeting the 28-50yr old working class family. I want my customer to go to work 8-5, come home and eat dinner and then go buy fish. Stop in each pay day etc. I plan to carry bread and butter stuff like neon tetras, rummynose tetras, clown loaches etc. But also carry lots of specialty things like african shelldwellers, a range of apistos, high end aquarium plants, high end guppies etc. I already have experience with these items as I sell them online already.
The place I chose has a high majority of working couples with 2 kids each with a median income of $66k a year.
Also yesterday I received an insurance quote. $560 a year. so basically $50 a month. I'll have an electrician in once I've signed the lease which should happen tomorrow or the next day. A plumber will be in to look the drains over briefly in the next few days as well.
In the end, no matter how I laid it out. Paying $300 a month for those extra walk in customers was too good to pass up. Not to mention the pet people get together for a monthly meeting on how to get more business. They also do at least 4 events a year like a dog Halloween costume show, pictures with Santa etc. I'm hoping that with me being the 8th(realized there was actually another dog therapy place) we can share some of the expense of advertising etc.
Tomorrow the plan is to get my light up signs in the window, put up brown paper so no one can see in. Use masking tap to layout a floor plan of a counter/cash register station, racks of tanks etc. Also take down one interior wall. I also found paint in a cabinet to do touch ups. The walls were already this light bluish green color you'd find in someone's fish room. So once I take down some shelves etc and touch those up. It's close to setting up racks.
BTW, my builder is thinking if we really bust ass we can have a soft open ready by Feb 1st.
I was going to ask you about selling online but it sounds like you've got that going already. Congratulations on getting going, has to be exciting.
Basically 3 pvc lines that have to be within a few feet of every single tank in the place. This will be more advanced that your average pet store. Every tank will be on it's own filtration via sponge filter. With a 10% water change every day. The setup time is much longer. If I was to just open asap. I could be open in literally a week from now.
On top of all that building, the filters need some time to grow bacteria to support fish. I also need to install the ceiling fans and get the temp via heater regulated. As all the fish tanks will be heated by heating the whole room. If I don't get this adjusted before bringing in fish. I'll just kill a few thousand dollars.
It sounds like you've got a solid grasp on your business Corndog. I'm excited to follow your journey! Good luck and continue posting here for any advice you might need.
No more unicorns.
Title should be called "Adventures with Corndog."
Corndog, what is your marketing plan, other than drive-by traffic? I hope you've fleshed that out, or get it fleshed out before you open. It's more important than you think.
I just interviewed someone for a job an hour ago, who owned his own business in my industry. He's only seen two customers in the last three months, compared to my 150k sales in that same timeframe. I've seen it time and time again over the years, the guys that fail can't figure out how to let people know they are in business, or even exist. They are the guys that I interview for entry level positions, and this is after they've invested in equipment (that they can't make payments on).
I've gotten sick of hiring these guys. They come on with me, think that the recession has lightened up when they see we are busy. They go back to their businesses and starve again. My 15% growth rate over three years has more to do with a lot of strategic planning.
I'm at a point where I have enough staff (Secretary, Manager and two Crew Leaders) that I can ponder all day about which direction to take the company. Make sure you are taking the time to work on your business, and not just working in it. You should be doing this even in the beginning, when you'll need to be more hands on.
Last edited by Lyrical; 12-19-2012 at 09:43 PM.
Even if you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off, be sure to set aside time (even if you don't have it) to work on your businesses.
No more unicorns.
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
To be honest I haven't mapped out all of the marketing as it's a new concept for me to learn. The business I managed didn't do any advertising at all really. In the 5 years I worked there, 0 dollars were spent. Some things were donated for schools etc, but that's it.
My plan thus far for marketing:
-I have an ongoing build out thread of my business on the local fish forums.
-I have a Facebook page going with more locals following.
-Before this I was on the board of directors for the local fish club which meets once a month with 100+ people in attendance. I am still quit involved but not on the board.
The plan once the doors are open:
Become a sponsor of the local fish club and offer 10% off.
Donate gift cards to the fish club auction.
Hand out a business card to everyone there that also has a free package of fish food stamped on the back. (getting them there is the hardest. once they're there, It's up to me to keep them coming back)
Befriend the local Petco employees , and offer them a stack of business cards they can hand out. With their named signed to the back and the free package of fish food promo. Each one redeemed at my store gets them $5 cash.
I want to notify the homeowners directly around my business. Tossed around the idea of a mailer, but it takes quite a few mailers to really reach the customer. Thought about a newspaper ad, but more and more my target market doesn't read print newspaper, they go to msn etc. The leading idea is to door knock target neighborhoods each week. Just letting them know I'm a new local business might go well in my market. (this is easier said than done) Most people I know who have to door knock for business simply get lazy about it.
Other then that, I'm not sure where to advertise.
I thought of some other things I was doing. I setup the mail chimp account to start accepting and building a newsletter. 10 subscribers so far and the doors haven't opened. I also got a point of sale system that will let me take email addresses at the time of purchase etc. I think a email address will be more useful than a facebook page in the long run.
Google Adwords can probably be used effectively for online purposes. I have also used contests with Facebook gating (require people to like your page before they can enter) to build my number of likes. Can PM you details if you are interested.
I may be able to help you out with some contacts on doing some print advertising, but I would need you to PM me some more details such as where exactly this fish store is located (so I can make sure the people I do print buys through actually service your area).
Last edited by opiate82; 12-20-2012 at 05:42 PM.
No more unicorns.
Yeah I have a website, I'm currently waiting for a friend to finish designing a logo and color pallet for my business etc. He does it for a living, so it is saving me a ton of money. But yeah, I do plan to utilize a website. I hadn't considered keywording it to heavily for local, but you're correct. In the past I've only managed world wide blogs etc.
No more unicorns.
Being in a niche, I'd focus on online stuff. SEO's been mentioned, and I'd also have a website. I used homestead.com to make a template site. You can pick from 100's of layouts or have one custom made. The best part is, you can update it on your own. Make sure when someone pulls up specialty fish, as well as the names of the different fish, that your business pulls up. I'd imagine that this is so niche that you could corner online for $200 a month. I used to be able to do that in my industry, and now I don't get top SEO placement with 500 a month any more.
What are the demographics of this customer? Age, sex, degrees, HHI, etc? I've asked this twice now. This will guide everything else you do.
Also watching customers at my store and watching other stores, Friday and Saturday nights are very popular for a dinner and a trip to the pet store as a date. I've seen couples still carrying carry out boxes shopping fish.
A page like this has some stats for fish. But then goes into detail for dogs and cats. And every study I've found so far either does this, or talks about fish being imported/exported. Not the demographic of the consumer of fish. http://www.americanpetproducts.org/p...strytrends.asp
- The math after adding up those millions and dividing. Shows the number I've seen in other reports. 10% of pet owners own a fish in the USA. Worldwide, it's closer to 10% of overall population, not just pet owners. Fish are more popular in other countries where houses are smaller than the USA.
Last edited by Corndog; 12-20-2012 at 07:38 PM.
This study shows that 7.8-12% of all US households own fish. http://jerconsultingllc.com/US_Pet_P...tes_2-2010.pdf
This study is very interesting: http://www.petage.com/news020801.asp
65% of Americans own a pet.
18 to 30yr :17% own Fish
31 to 40yr: 21% own Fish
43 to 61yr: 14% own Fish
62 and Older: 4%
Overall of Pet owners: 15% of all pet owners own fish.
62yr + are likely to only own 1 pet.
31-40yr are more likely to own 3 or more pets.
College Education pet ownership is 57%
Under $35k is 60%
35k-50k is 56%
50k-75k or more is 67%
Pet owner Demographics:
65% of pet owners have bought their pet a holiday present.
37% bought the pet a birthday present.
BTW thank you Lyrical for asking again as I may have never found this info otherwise.
Last edited by Corndog; 12-20-2012 at 07:57 PM.
Demographics for the city my new store will be in:
There were 16,904 households out of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.0% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% were non-families. 29.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.85.
In the city the age distribution of the population shows 20.6% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 28.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.
According to a 2009 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $66,892 and the per capita income for the city was $42,432. About 2.6% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.9% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.
52% married couples.
Average household size 2.5 roughly.
20% below age 18
16% over 65
Household Income: 66k
I only use the internet or referrals to make a decision, but I learned a long time ago that I don't represent my customer's thoughts. Each customer segment is different. Market to yourself and you'll only be getting a small segment of the total customer base you want.
Last edited by Lyrical; 12-20-2012 at 08:13 PM.
Get in the habit of doing your own research. As an owner, it's just you and God. I pulled this up in 15 seconds.
Small Business Development Center. You can get IBISWorld Reports for free from them. I know for a fact that they have pet store info available, so they could possibly have more specific info as well. Check IBIS to see if they carry a report your need and then request it from the SBDC.
No more unicorns.
Landlord is taking their sweet ass time to get the signed lease back to me. Supposed to be back in my hands by Monday. I dropped off my signed portion on Friday. After not getting a response back on corrections for 2 days prior to that. Looks like real construction on my shop will start after Christmas.
Anyone have current advice on payment processors for a retail location? I called my bank on the recommendation from another local business owner. They wanted 3% plus a setup fee, plus an annual fee, plus $8 each month minimum plus a terminal rental.. Once I listened to the rates, I said hmm, square is 2.75% why would I want to pay more? The response was that they could offer an insurance on the terminal vs fraud, but not very many people use that anyways...
So I'm considering getting an ipad or android if they can run via wifi with square as my terminal and just pay flat rate 2.75%. Every time I look into another payment processor option, all the hidden fees outweigh the lower %s.
When picking a vendor, look also at time to fund. Unless you have a lot of cash sitting, you don't want to wait forever while the company floats your cash.
I have seen businesses that do the ipad thing. There is a restaurant here in town and their "cash register" is just an ipad on a stand. I don't know what app they use but it's kind of interesting.
Not taking credit cards isn't really an option for a retail store.
I've used Hartland, Mercury Payment Systems and now Peoples Bank for credit card processing. While they all have their issues, I got good rates though each of them. I get better than 2.75 when all is said and done (processor statements can be a nightmare to figure out and you can never accurately calculate what you actual cost will be based on what they tell you your rates are, you usually just have to use them for a couple of months to calculate the effective rate) but I'm guessing I probably do a lot higher volume in credit card sales than you will, which helps me get a better rate. For what I'm guessing your volume would be Square might be a good choice. Square has a flat $275 a month fee as long as you process under $250,000 per year. Might math out better for you than the 2.75% per swipe. Also if I were you I would just get the printer. Even if they love your store, if a customer leaves irritated because they didn't want to give you their email address but needed a receipt, you are going to lose that customer.
Last edited by opiate82; 12-30-2012 at 06:02 AM.
Yeah I agree on the printer. Waiting to order it until I play around with the app first.
I ponied up and ordered the Square receipt printer and cash drawer. I was able to mess around with the IPAD square app and it is pretty darn slick.
This lead my retail brain to some new research. Pricing. As I was playing around with it I was making test items. There is a ton of research on retail pricing. Specifically what I was looking at was the way to price an item. Not how much to price it for.
These all have different connotations in the human brain apparently most of them subconscious.
A. 0.09 cents or cent sign - Cheapens the item. A item ending with nine is thought of in the mind as cheap.
B.$0.09 Dollar sign - Our subconscious knows this comes out of our bank account. Without the dollar sign, it's not real money apparently.
C. amounts ending in 4-7 - This indicates the item has been priced as cheaply as it can get.
D. 1.00 Even amount - Our mind thinks quality, expensive. This is used on higher end status items. A purse for example, a woman would rather pay 650.00 for it than $649.99.
The problem with these "facts" as they aren't universal. Depending on the part of the country, economy etc. Also were talking about percents here. Some things boost sales by 24% while the next study shows it boosting sales by 17% etc. No one can explain why any of these "work" and there are plenty of businesses that step away from the norm and do fine. Walmart for instance uses 8s on their pricing which is supposed to do nothing. Except on web searches it comes up cheaper than it's competitors.
This lead me to further investigation as it didn't really answer my question. Store atmosphere seems to play a large part also. Whole foods a higher priced grocery store used granite counter tops and tile floors etc to appeal to the status side of shoppers and charge higher money for items. The last 2 years, they've been remodeling their stores and taking that out and leaving stuff like silver ventilation ducts exposed and concrete floors. As this shows the shopper that they're saving money anywhere they can to pass the savings onto the customer.
Another interesting fact I read about was that you could have a widget for $1 every day. You can take that same widget, mark it at $1.50 but put it out on the floor on a pallet with hundreds of them sitting there. The mind assumes because there are so many sitting there, that the widget has to be the cheapest around because the store bought in bulk.
In the UK stores have stepped away from using cents all together. They just use round numbers. 70 cents. 2 dollars etc.
With all this information fresh as of yesterday for me. I'm trying to figure out who I want to be as a store. I already know I wanted to cater to higher end clientele. Not be the cheapest on the block, however be the best quality on the block. Also I'm trying to make myself different from every other store in my field in every way I can. Instead of directly competing on something, just do it differently or offer the customer a different experience.
Anyone have any retail thoughts on this subject?
I think at this point I'll be going with whole number pricing and no dollar signs.
Something like this:
Fish Food 3.50
The second thing the IPAD let me explore was loyalty programs. The square app has a program built in that lets you set a couple of parameters. The standard one setup is, 10 purchases of $10 or more gets you a 10% off coupon. You can change all of those numbers but it got me thinking of offering some kind of program.
I'm wondering about a membership club card type of thing. Imagine your hobby, whatever it is, fish, stereos, cars etc. What price would you be willing to pay to get a card that gave you 10% off everything. Kind of like a membership card to costco. You buy in for $35 a year. You get the privilege to shop there. Being a small business, I won't have the clout to pull off a you can't shop here unless you sign up. But what if for $20 you got a membership card that gave you 10% on everything you bought.
The goal here is not to general extra money from the $20. My goal is to make the customer feel obligated to come to my store vs a competitor. A major example of this is Amazon Prime Membership. They lose money shipping the items out 2 day priority on everything. $80 a year doesn't cover it. However what it does buy them is, most people who have a membership will check amazon.com FIRST for an item. Leading to many more sales but at a lower profit.
I'm trying to think of a sweet spot for a small business. $20? $15? $25? The problem is there needs to be a benefits package I think. If you get 10% off and you only spend $100 a year on average on fish. If you bought the membership for more than $10 you'd be losing money. Also if you've only spent $10 on the membership would you feel married to my store instead of another store down the street?
I think I have to come up with something besides just a discount that the membership gives you. So that I can get the membership price up to maintain loyalty. Some thoughts were a "fish of the month" By being a member of the loyalty program, each month I would have a fish in stock that you got 1 of for free as a perk.
Or what if it was an item. Like prebuy fish food for the year for $60. Each month you would come in and get your fish food you've already paid for. The bonus would be 10% off everything you buy in the store. This would bring customers back at least once a month.
Anyone have any insight on what it would take for them to align with a specific store? Obviously selection, prices etc are very important, but sometimes a sense of belonging goes a long way.
On pricing, I have gone to whole number pricing. Since I serve a higher quality pizza, I think that pricing model lines up with what you outlined above, it adds a perceived quality to the product. But more importantly it just makes my employees lives a lot easier. When asked how much does that pizza cost they can just say $20.
On the loyalty/membership card. I think initially it might be a bad idea to try to charge a membership fee. I personally don't see it gaining much traction. Costco can get away with it because there simply isn't a store like Costco competing with them. It is a unique shopping opportunity that people are willing the pay for. I don't see it working in the same way for a fish store. Something that might work better would be along the lines of the Starbucks Gold Card. You get loyalty points for using the card and the card is re-loadable with cash. People are likely to come to your store because odds are their card has a balance on it and will likely reload their card to get the discount/loyalty points. I'm not sure if Square can also handle gift cards or not, but that would be a necessary component to something like that.
Also, my wife drives 30 minutes each way to one specific pet food store to buy our cat food because they have a punch card (Buy 10 bags and your 11th is free). Something as simple as that could achieve what you are hoping for. The only issue with punch cards is you have to worry about employees giving out extra/free punches. Not sure how much you plan on being in the store to police that.
Thank you for all those insights Opiate. I had thought about the punch card system. I hadn't thought about the starbucks system. But it's pretty clever. I'm not a coffee drinker and had only heard about it briefly once before. I'm gonna look into that some more.
To me the loyalty program idea seems a little odd for a fish store because I think most people think of getting an aquarium like getting a puppy. You're not going to be coming back all the time because now you have your fish and you're good except for food which is cheap enough that people don't care much about saving 10% on it. There are enthusiasts that are buying fish and gear all the time, but I don't think average people go into a fish store thinking that they are going to be spending money here every month.
I've never had a big aquarium, but I think a lot of the fun for me would be buying all the little decorative shit like castles and whatnot to make it look nice. I could see spending a lot of time and money on that as I gradually build up my aquarium's "theme", so to speak.
Corndog, focus on getting the customer to walk in the door the first time, and not for visits after that. If you are treating them right and giving them a good product, they'll be back.
What are you doing, Internet wise?
Loyalty is more about getting your current customers to spend more money than they would have otherwise. Yes, if you provide a good service and product they will be back, but once you get them back you want to maximize returns by trying to drive up incremental sales on that customer.
Money wise, I agree Corndog should focus his advertising efforts on getting customers in the door. But since he said he has a built in loyalty program already (financial investment is made) as long as he has time, he should absolutely put in some sort of loyalty program. It can be a huge revenue generator for retail.
I've confirmed my google places account with the snail mail so far. Waiting for the store to be built out to have a friend who is a professional photographer take a bunch of pictures to seed yelp and google places.
I have not started the keyword targeting on the website yet. An overall overhaul will be happening this week most likely.
There's an email list for a local club that I'm already well known in and once the soft open happens feb 1st. I'll be posting to there frequently, becoming a sponsor and getting a monthly ad announcement there.
Now that you have your Google Places confirmed, I recommend you also do some Adwords. I started using adwords to promote online ordering (average customer who orders online spends $5 more than the customer instore or on the phone). After a 12 week test run I concluded that my ad was generating 9 additional online orders per week at an average cost of $0.85 per impression and $3.52 per redemption not including the discount, which was modest. Those redemption costs blow away any traditional form of couponing I have ever done. I am trying a more aggressive offer for Q1 to compare numbers.
Bottom line, search works, you should use it.
Last edited by opiate82; 01-02-2013 at 07:28 PM.
Also, I think you should change the name of this thread to "Corndog's fish store" or something like that.
Last edited by BrutulTM; 01-03-2013 at 01:23 AM.
Yeah, you would probably have to get help from a mod. No big deal, but the thread has kind of moved on from the 2 retail locations thing.
Took 47 minutes on the phone to order internet and phone and it won't be installed until the 22nd unless they can get it expedited through a local manager. Throws a kink into things when they can't guarantee the phone number until it's installed. So no business cards printed etc.
You could get a Google Voice number and forward it to your cell phone until the new line is hooked up and then forward it to the store line? One kind of nice thing for me about Google Voice at least in this area is that they get a different prefix and there aren't a lot of numbers taken so you can pick an easy one to remember. You could also set it up to forward to your cell at different times of the day like while you're at lunch or whatever. I don't know if GVoice is reliable enough to be your main business number though.
They were able to push it up to the 16th. Electrician was in today. $340 worth of stuff to get what is already there up to code. Going to present that to the landlord on Tuesday. $1250 roughly for the additions of stuff I want done. Plumbing should be finished up on Tuesday as well.
Today is an "off" day for construction. I have a countertop that we put a glaze on that needs to cure. Nothing is being done in the store but my builder is working on things at his shop and I spent the day looking for paint. Trying to find a 5 gallon bucket or 2 of gloss paint for my store. It's incredibly cheap when it's a "mistint". So if a customer goes into home depot and wants a nice aqua blue color, then never comes back to pick it up after mixing it, or returns it the next day. The same $125 5 gallon bucket of paint gets marked down to $25. I'm told it shouldn't take more than a week or so to find a suitable color. I'm looking for a green or blue to put up on the walls once all the sheet rock is fixed. I stopped by the habitat for humanity store, which is a recycle store. Found a nice stainless steel small microwave for $15. Looks like it has never been used. First time there, and the prices on stuff was really awesome. Only problem is you gotta check it out often as supplies are constantly rotating.
Last edited by Corndog; 01-06-2013 at 01:15 AM.
I've a question about fish tanks from local fish stores. I was interested in a saltwater tank a while back and there's a specific quality all in one tank I wanted, and the local fish store had it, but it was $75-$100 more than I could have bought it online shipped for. My buddy (who is in sales) mentioned that it would have seemed wiser to price the tank competitively to get you to buy it, so that you'll turn around and buy fish from them to stock the tank with, and all their other shit (live rock, sand, corals, etc.) So I guess my question is do you sale tanks for little markup, and do you lose a lot of business to the internet?
Ah....yeah Frontier is pretty shitty and Comcast business class is overpriced.
Bummer, was hoping I could have helped ya.
I'm only gonna have 55 gallons and under in stock and just offer great prices on tanks larger then that. It takes a max of 7 days for the tank to come in stock. Another problem is petco has been doing a $1 a gallon sale every other month for the last 2 years. So much so that customers just wait for that sale. Most stores I've talked to say it's almost not even worth carrying tanks at this point unless it's a nano tank.
To answer the question. Local fish stores lose a ton of business to the internet. But not so much on tanks. It's still kind of difficult to ship glass tanks. Usually a store worth it's salt is cheaper that internet on the aquariums.
In my professional opinion. The way of the local fish store has to shift to a sell what you can't wait for market. Fish meds, low cost items like fish food, heaters, filters, frozen fish food and live fish. I'm confidant that there will always be someone somewhere on the internet that can get a warehouse space cheaper than me and ship it cheap enough on almost any item. Amazon sells basically every fish dry good on the market with free 2 day shipping. So I'm best to invest my money into things they can't compete on. Quality fish, meds, live plants, live foods, frozen foods etc. Now what does this mean? It means I need a smaller store. Instead of 2000 sq ft to sell all aquatic goods. I'm using 950.
My rent is $850 a month. I'm friends with some other LFS stores. The one I used to manage way out in the sticks with a town count of less than $100 is paying $1350 a month in rent. Another competitor is paying $4700 a month in rent. These stores are larger, and are stuck with dry good items that aren't moving. Theres nothing worse than paying an employee to go dust your dry goods because they aren't selling.
Fuck that, I'd use the Gift Card, get an ipad for your business and write that shit off!
The problem is, it costs money to have a product sit there for people to touch, break, steal parts etc. If you're matching the price of the guy who has it sit in the slums of a warehouse in the middle of no where where rent is 20 cents a square foot, you'll just loose money. The article says to just price match the internet even if you wont make any money. Because statistics show that if someone is buying 1 item, theres 50% or greater chance they'll buy something else also. Where you could make some more money.
Heres 1 example I just looked up.
Lee's 25' Gravel vac kit.
My wholesale: 23.93
Amazon Price with free shipping: 32.29
Price I should Sell it for: $45
Another Example Hikari Mini 8.8oz Cichlid Gold Pellets
Retail at Petsmart: 11.99
My store: 9.99
3rd example. Cascade 1500 Canister Filter
So do I choose to carry all 3 items and price match? The canister filter seems like I'd be losing money before I ever even brought it in. The gravel Vac kit, I can probably sell because it'll be an impulse by when I tell people their tank is dirty and that's why the fish are sick. The food. I can actually match amazon if I want. I will sell food.
A huge problem is, most people just assume a local fish store will be more expensive than a petsmart or petco. On top of that, they assume a petsmart or petco is more expensive than online. A lot of items never even get compared based on assumptions. So like the food example. Most people won't compare the price of ordering a food online for $8.50 vs $9.99 in the store. Chances are they'll just do 1 or the other without comparing. Either they need the convenience of buying it on the internet or buying it on their lunch break at a retail store.
There's basically 2 camps right now. 1 half says, you have to carry everything in retail. Any time you customer leaves your store to find the item you don't have you could lose them forever. The other camp says they are losing their asses on theft, broken goods, show rooming basically and not selling nearly enough of it to pay for the square footage it takes up. The problem is, both these camps already have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in dry goods and a clientelle that does rely on them for dry goods.
So for the ones who are losing money they'd love to drop a lot of stuff. The problem is they'll also loose the customers that were buying dry goods from them. In this economy people can't give up a single customer. Also it's not just as simple as drop the dry goods, you'd have to move(be out of a lease) or fill it with more live goods which is very costly to setup. To have it make any sense.
So I'm going for option #3 and setting up with items I can compete with online, or people don't want to buy online. Live Fish, Frozen Foods, Meds, heaters, quick grab items etc.
Competing on dry goods for a fish store is just impossible in some locations based on taxes right now too. I'm in TN and 10% sales tax + slightly higher baseline means that free shipped stuff from amazon just crushes the LFS on price. Which sucks because it is a nice store and I'd like to support it, but there is no way I can justify spending 35% more for food etc. Just using your Hikari pellets example its 8.75 from Amazon and 11.00 after taxes if you were here (26%). I can't imagine myself ever buying items like a canister filter at a LFS because of this honestly.
Couple questions for you:
1. Are you planning to sell and ship fish via a website? I have no idea if there is money to be made here honestly, but there really aren't that many places online to order rarer fish online and have them shipped. For example I'm looking for aspidoras pauciradiatus right now. This is a 2-3$ fish and yet I can't find it *anywhere* right now. Keeping an updated online stock list + charge the correct amount to cover your shipping cost / effort seems like an easy way to get some sales?
2. Where is your store again?
As a side note having a red cherry shrimp breeding tank in the back somewhere seems like a license to print money to me? I see these for sale for 2-3$ all day long here and they breed like rabbits.
I think this is very interesting and I can offer some insight. I consider myself somewhat of a fish enthusiast, I have two large tanks (75, 90 gallon) and a nano tank for shrimp. I drive 45 min to my "LFS" because they beat online prices, on everything. Period.
They carry awesome rare fish, and have an absolutely tremendous showroom (easily 100+ tanks) they update their stock via facebook bi-weekly, and their fish prices are absolutely insane as well. Examples;
6" Gold Nugget Pleco, $35. $80 for 3" at another store.
2" Roseline sharks, $3. $10 other store etc etc
They will also special order absolutely anything you want , and have staff that has sat and explained to me all kinds of things and as a result legitimately sold me on fish without actually selling me (And also responsibly dissuaded me) I read about them when searching online for places to go. Word of mouth on the internet is huge, that brought me there and the reasons above kept me there.
Yes I plan to sell online. I already ship a lot of fish out all over the country through Aquabid. WHich is just the ebay of fish if you weren't aware. Aspis can be hit or miss lots of time they're seasonal as not many people actually breed them. But I plan to have lots of more common stuff in stock in the smaller catfish range. I've got hasbrosus corydoras, pygmy corydoras and panda corydoras in stock waiting to be sold once my tanks are put in.
I'm located in Washington State. You might check http://www.wetspottropicalfish.com/index.php/fish They are the most likely to have them come in stock. They're also a fish wholesaler with a retail store. 1 state lower than me. They're the big boys over on the west coast. I'm just looking to do something similar to that except without african cichlids etc.
What's your theory on selling meds? I have always felt like if you're a half decent fish keeper and you're buying fish from a good store you should never need any meds, but it sounds like as a fish store operator they might be one of your best moneymakers. When my cousin's fish were dying she complained about it on facebook. I got in touch with her and she had been to the LFS and they had given her some stress coat and related BS but after I talked to her she had no idea that she needed to do periodic water changes and her tank had only been up for a month so it probably wasn't even cycled yet and that bullshit was going to do nothing for her.
As an experienced fish keeper this pisses me off, especially since her kids are crying over the fish dying and she's blaming herself and all she needed to do was do some water changes, but nobody told her that. The LFS can't make any money telling her to do a weekly water change but they can make money selling her replacement fish and shit to dump in the tank.
She also had 3 goldfish in a 10 gallon tank, so obviously they hadn't given her any advice on what to put in her tank either. When I was a beginner I made the same kind of mistakes due to bad advice from LFS owners. My first tank was four 6" goldfish in a 20 gallon tank. The water got so dirty you couldn't even see the fish. The second time I tried I bought two 1" long red belly pacus which the fish store guy told me would be fine in a 20 gallon. Needless to say in a year they were both 10 inches long and splashing water out of the tank every time they got startled and I had to euthanize them. Now I pretty much tell people that all LFS owners are full of shit and you shouldn't listen to anything that they tell you. I know not everyone is like this, but in my experience it's the majority.
Last edited by BrutulTM; 01-07-2013 at 09:01 PM.
The mantra I started when managing a store before opening my own. When in doubt, change water. When I say change water, I always mean gravel vac. My customers NEVER wanted to hear that. If they knew enough that they were already doing water changes enough, that wasn't the problem. The people who didn't do water changes, that was like asking them to give up sugar for a month!
Meds are for 3 situations really. New fish be it wildcaught, or stress from shipping. And meds are for dumbasses. They aren't cleaning enough, or are using feeder fish from petco etc, there are people that wait for fish to get sick. Then clean the tank, Meds are then needed as damage control. Or your heater breaks and you don't realize it until you see Ick.
As for the wrong fish for the tank size thing from store owners I've never gotten it. I don't practice it and I don't understand why either. LFS are money hungry and want to make a sale wherever. It's so easy to help the customer make the right decision instead of being lazy. In the case of Pacu. Why not sell you silver dollars if you were sold on that body shape? Or if you wanted piranha type fish which is why most people buy them from a petco/petsmart etc. Then steer them towards a puffer or needle nose gar etc. There are so many species in the world that you can find fish that everyone will love for any situation. No need to sell them a pacu that is a vegetarian when they wanted a predator.
My philosophy has been. Keep lots of cool fish in stock. If you come in wanting to buy a fish. And I can't put a fish that you like into a suitable tank you own. I have probably failed. There are people who only want a specific fish for their 20 gallon etc. These tend to be 15-20 somethings that their friend has a jag in a 20 gallon, and so can they etc. This is where the necessary evil comes into play. If your heart is dead set on 3 oscars in a 20 gallon tank. And I've explained why it wont be a good choice, the problems you'll run into and your options to put in there instead and you STILL want 3 oscars. I can either say no, and watch the $15 walk out the door. And they'll just stop off at petco/petsmart on the way home and buy 3 anyways. Or I can take their money and hope it keeps me open to help people who want help making the correct decisions.
So I just explain everything on why it's not a good idea etc. If at the end of the conversation you still want to go against it. I'll take their money. At the end it's better that I get their money than another store who won't try to do the right thing first.
Last edited by Corndog; 01-07-2013 at 09:45 PM.
Yeah, if someone is determined to be a dumb ass and put oscars in a little tank after you tell them it's stupid then you might as well get a few bucks out of them. I don't see anything wrong with that.
I don't know why they would even have a pacu in their store frankly. 99% of their customers aren't going to have a 100+ gallon tank to keep them in and most people don't even know what they are so I don't think people are coming in the door asking for them. Maybe it is that they sort of resemble a piranha, but it just seems like a generally bad idea. They were very cool fish while I had them though, if I ever wound up with a 200 gallon SA tank I would think about getting them again.
So I have a new problem, I've never had before. Anytime I'm not working on the business I feel guilty. Like playing league of legends. Even if it's only for an hour. I feel like I shouldn't stop trying to improve the business somehow each hour I'm awake until I've at least "made it". As I view this as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Any other business owners go through that during their start up?
Edit: Double post.
I tend to agree, it would be a much worse sign if you were having trouble getting things done and staying motivated at this stage. Just give it a few months and you will have some idea what your cash flow is going to look like and get through your initial fuck ups and you can get into more of a routine. When I first came back to the ranch I was so far over my head it was ridiculous. I had to do everything multiple times because I didn't know what I was doing and I was constantly reinventing the wheel and screwing things up. I'm starting my 5th year now and it's still a lot of work, but looking back it's so much easier and less stressful now than that first year. I'm putting in less hours and doing a far better job with every aspect of the business.
It's perfectly normal to be stressed and anxious when you're starting out and it would be much more of a worry if you weren't at this stage of the game. Also, to some extent, running a business is going to be the dominant factor in your life as long as you do it. It's never going to be the sort of job where you go home at 5 and don't think about it again until you get back in at 8 the next morning. You don't have to think you can never enjoy yourself or take a day off again, but it's never going to be a 40 hour week if you want to do a good job. From what you have posted so far I think that you are invested enough in what you're doing that you will take a lot of pleasure and satisfaction in the business and it will be worth the hard work.
Last edited by BrutulTM; 01-08-2013 at 06:39 AM.
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