• Stop Being Cheap

    Stop Being Cheap!

    Saving money. This is a difficult topic to breach, and I'm sure I'll offend some people in the process but I've been moved to speak up on this very important subject more than once. Not only to improve how others perceive you, but also for the sake hobbyists everywhere and the hobby itself.

    When each of us first became interested in this hobby, we were forewarned that it would be very expensive. We knew that, and felt it was worth the hit we took in our wallets, because the payoff was a stunning aquarium that we could proudly share with family and friends. We made the necessary purchases, rushed home and started cycling our shiny new tank. Excitement brought us back to our nearest fish store for more and more goods and soon after we bought livestock of every size, shape and color. And it was good.

    Then one day, someone mentioned that you could save all kinds of money buying things online. Others suggested we try to build various items instead of paying top dollar for the commercial version. Suddenly our eyes were opened, and we began to grin with delight: Not only could you get more stuff, but you could get it cheaper than you ever dreamt possible.

    At this point, something transforms the common hobbyist into a Super Saver. Suddenly prices seem much too high at your fish store, and you scoff at the thought that others would ever pay that price. "What are those people thinking?!" You've seen the light! Not only do you want to warn others about the peril they are in, you also desire -- no, crave -- rock bottom prices. And now you are on a dangerous slope, and it can be hard to see the bigger picture.

    Before I proceed any further, I do want to state that I love to save money whenever I can. However, we should be reasonable. I'd even go so far as to say that we should consider what the seller is thinking. If you can do that while making purchases, this article is really not for you. Congratulations. You are excused, and can go enjoy your tank or do that much-needed water change.

    The rest of you, read on: As various items become necessary purchases, seeking out a good deal seems almost as important as the actual acquisition itself. Some vendors are willing to price-match, while others are not. Finding out what their standards are is a good idea, but berating those that don't participate in such business practices is a bad idea. It not only makes you look cheap, but it also affects how the vendor will view similar customers in the future. If you go back to the principle of putting yourself in the vendor's shoes, how would you like it if someone was asking you to sell them something for nothing? Their family, like your family, needs food on the table too, right? Will your actions affect others? You should care about this.

    Rather than sharing example after example of various incidents I've been privy to, I'd really like to encourage everyone to take a step back and look at what we as a group are doing to the hobby itself. Is there any surprise that brick and mortar stores are not impressed with etailers selling the same products for less? Online vendors have overhead, but not nearly the amount that a typical fish store has to meet on a monthly basis. Those of us that have discovered online communities and have learned about those potential savings are often unwanted as customers because of the mentality that we've come to embrace. By trying to save money, we've begun to lose the very stores that we originally sought out on a regular basis. And as we lose those stores one by one, we as a group begin to insulate ourselves from having local vendors to turn to when our tanks are in trouble. Don't forget how you used to enjoy going to the LFS to check out the latest livestock arrivals, and hanging out to just talk about tank stuff. That time can't be replaced with online forums, I assure you. Nor should it be.

    If you are a member of a local club, odds are that 'group buys' occur from time to time. A group buy is designed to save money as a group by ordering everything from one place and avoiding the hefty shipping fee we incur individually. Some clubs turn to their local stores when they desire a group buy for a particular item. This is a good idea, as it improves relations between the two. Money trading hands locally helps the local economy, right?

    What I'm seeing more and more is a shift in how some are seeking that savings, and if it continues our hobby will suffer more than just a simple black eye. When shopping at the LFS (local fish store), I've observed some that act like the store is a pawn shop where bartering is to be expected. Or if they buy a few items, they press the shop owner for an additional discount as if they deserved it. Here's where I'd like to stop and pause, to consider why the buyer wants that particular savings. Do they do this because they want to 'score' the best deal in town? Are they on such a tight budget that the only way to get what they need requires that they demand it cheaper? Will they ever give back to the hobby from the savings they received? Additionally, this hobby has people from virtually all walks of life, from students to retirees, from those with tons of money to those with very little, and everyone in-between. Each person has to decide for themselves what is appropriate, but all of us should be considerate when doing business with others.

    When possible, it would be good if we could think about how we've saved 'x' amount of dollars on these few items and now we have a surplus to buy that coral or fish at the price marked. That would be the balancing effect, not unlike karma points. Let's tip those scales back to the median point, so that we can save and yet not be cheapskates. If you bought light bulbs and salt in a group buy and saved lots of money, you have the extra on hand to get that item you've wanted for some time. Unfortunately, some are unable to stem that need or inclination to save-save-save, and even when they know they are getting a great deal on some livestock will stop to ask if they can now also apply their club member's discount as well. Whoops! Not only did you push too far, now the store owner feels reluctant to offer such savings to others because it seems like there is a lack of gratitude on your part.

    As I stated before, I love to save money too. I'll ask for the price of the items I'm interested in, and then decide if it seems fair or not. I keep in mind that the store not only had to sit on that inventory, but they've also paid for the needs of the animals, suffered losses along the way, and had to pay other things often overlooked by us: transaction fees. A customer walks in and decides they want to buy a brand new tank, feel they've gotten a good price, and then they pull out a credit card. Depending on the type of card, the vendor has to eat that loss. 3% can be significant on bigger purchases (3% of a $6000 setup is $180 that the store won't get). If the store was trying to help save you money to guarantee the sale, they may have chosen to undercut their pricing in hopes of getting you as a regular customer. In theory, this is a good plan but if that same customer decides from now on to purchase all their goods online, the store loses the future business they'd banked on cultivating. Did you know that when we use a debit card to make that purchase, stores don't have to pay as much in fees? Hence, I try to use my debit card or cash whenever possible. Every little bit helps, right?

    I buy goods in group buys a few times a year, and livestock from my local stores. I look at various essential pieces of equipment on the market, and decide which ones are well-built and which ones are cheaply assembled. I would rather pay for something reliable than just buy something to get by for now -- and I've always been that way. When I was young (and before I could get stuff now and pay later {cough}) I would save up for the better item and resist the urge to buy something cheap right now. My friends never understood that part, but did love it when I'd have something really cool that we could all enjoy.

    Buying from online vendors is a good way to save, but be aware that some items are cheaper for a reason. Quality come into question, as well as if the product will even work as promised. Seeing the product locally at your LFS allows you to decide if you feel it is worth purchasing, which is another good reason to have fish stores open and in your area. If you need help with that product and you bought it at your LFS, they will be happy to assist you. If you bought it online, what's their motivation to help you? Has your club developed a poor reputation with the LFSs in the area? Do you care enough to help fix it?

    It is time for some of us to bite the bullet and quit trying to be the ultimate cheapskate. If you are offended by that label and feel that your are totally justified in what you're doing, let me ask what is it that you are doing for the hobby itself? How are you helping it (and us) get to the next level? Should all of us be like you, and if we all did follow your example, do you still believe there would be research and development of newer products for us to use? Would the hobby continue to advance? Would a bunch of thrifty hobbyists be able to overcome the hurdles that continue to impede our reefkeeping efforts? I think not. Part of our expenditures do make a difference. The catch is who should get that money, I suppose.

    You do not need to buy the best or most-expensive equipment and livestock-du-jour. If you can, that's awesome and you can bet those vendors are happy that you did. Some are doing well to afford the next batch of salt just to maintain their livestock for another few months. But the majority of us really do need to work on repairing our reputation as a whole, encouraging each hobbyist to be balanced in their goals of saving money and providing proper husbandry for the animals we've come to love. Score a few good deals, but don't forget to feed the kitty. And by kitty, I mean local fish store.

    Happy reefing!
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. washingtond's Avatar
      washingtond -
      Marc well written and I would add that everyone should ask themselves would they miss their LFS if it was no longer there? There needs to be balance as you stated with our purchases, some online but we cannot forget our LFS.
    1. Reefdaddy's Avatar
      Reefdaddy -
      While I agree with your statement on LFS's. Most reefers in thsi economy are looking for the deal and not from stores. Craigslist and other auction sites to include forums in thier "sell" threads have taken many of the stores buisness. As an example: My first tank ever was made of plywood and galss, Skimmer was driven by a standard air pump with airstone the body was 4 inch pvc. filters were made from plastic containers and lights were plant grow lights from the hardwarde store. We kept all our corals toward the top then and tanks were very nice and clean, we used charcoal filters with hang on the back filters for freshwater. Sumps were not yet in so everything was either in a cabinet next to the tank or on the floor. we had to think outside the box to get things done, Salt tanks were very popular in Germnay at that time and my first sump I saw was there while in the Army.

      I guess what iam saying is this, With all the stuff developed in lighting, skimmers, filters etc.. I just cant claim to be inclined to think it is that much better then DIY. I am not cheap , but I am Frugal. I have to see value in something before I will spend a ton of money on something, For instance the RKL from DA, is the best value for controllers out there, Why buy a 500.00 controller from neptune when a RKL can pretty much do what you want.

      As for Corals, Most of us in the hobby have something in our tanks that came from another reefer. Good size colony for 40.00 compared online 120.00 or fish store 150.00. Its a mtter of being able to complete something alot quicker and save for more corals and fish. Fish on the other hand is a big problem with they are caputerd and transported. A good friend of mine is a breeder of Clowns and psuedochromis (just started seahorses) Tank raised Grade A Picasos go for almost 5-6 hundred a pair here, I can get them from him for 30 a piece. Do I buy from a LFS at thier price or buy from a Breeder that sells to the LFS? You see the point I hope.

      Overall the result is the end. My DIY maybe replaced later on but it does present a casse of being able to have something beautiful now rather then later.
    1. Mccoy85's Avatar
      Mccoy85 -
      Very well written article and I totally agree with you. I live in southern California and fish stores seem to be a dime a dozen. I have found a few fish stores that I shop at a few times a month. After going to the stores frequently (without asking) the fish store owners started to give me discounts and price brakes on items and livestock. I don't know if it's just me or the stores I shop at but if you frequent a store enough and buy products then you eventually will be rewarded. You should not go into a fish store and expect a discount and web if they never give you a discount you should be happy that you have a local place to buy your stuff. Don't go into a fish store and just because you are buying a few item expect them to give you a deal. Earn a reputation with the store and I believe you will be noticed. That's just my opinion. Take it for what its worth. This is your hobby and you decided to get into it.
    1. waldend's Avatar
      waldend -

      Not disagreeing on the above subject but how about a Part II? Part II being a call to LFS stores to value the customers and livestock they are selling as well. I would place a small percentage of the community we have in the above class you talk about. I would also say there would be a similar, perhaps even higher number of LFS who are unfair or just plain unethical in their business practices. Example - Bleached white mushrooms sold as "Chlorox mushrooms" for $15 per polyp. Or perhaps the $79 Kiwi Anemone (otherwise known as a bleached green bubble tip anemone), Brook covered clowns, mandarins and filefish sold with no warnings, etc. Dry goods at prices where they could be purchased from an online vendor and still have reasonable margins at their LFS prices. At most of these same places when you try to trade in some frags or fish ( mosty likely healthier than any stock they have) they attempt to make you feel inferior and insist that they can only give you 15-20% store credit and treat you like they are doing you a favor at that. Either get me coming or going but please not both!

      This all kind of boils down to the big box store issue. Do we all buy our plumbing and stand building supplies at a local hardware store? Most likely Lowe's and Home Depot. Local jobs yes, but definitely not the little man with the typicallly more knowledgeable staff.

      I myself shop my local LFS and buy what I want IF its a reasonable price but I dont ask for extra discounts. If they arent price competitive then I take my business elsewhere.

      The number of reefers online and active in our forums are a tiny part of the overall hobby. I always remember Calfo's comment of how much Xenia he sold. How many of us buy Xenia? It had to be going somewhere. Just shows how many beginners are out there.

      Best advice - we all need to help each other. This hobby will sustain and grow when we are all benefiting from each other.
    1. melev's Avatar
      melev -
      As consumers, it is our job to study our purchases carefully to make sure we don't bring disease into our tanks. Setting up a quarantine tank is key, as it allows you to nurse the subject back to health or assure that nothing sneaks into your system that could cause harm.

      Your point about Home Depot / Lowes makes me think how we go there to purchase what we want, but don't raise hell about their pricing or state how we know "they" are getting it cheaper so we should as well. There is just a mentality that needs to be studied more carefully if we want to overturn it. You may opt to compare pricing on 2x4s or carpeting from one chain to the next, just like you may compare the price of a specific fish from one store to the next. But in the end, you buy it somewhere.

      There are many times I'll walk into the store and look around at the livestock, and only walk out with a test kit or some frozen Mini Mysis. However, I may be back for that certain coral that caught my eye if I couldn't afford it that day. I do miss the days of coral colonies being $40 to $70, that is for sure. But I blame the hobbyists for that one, with the price of their frags. Now that is for another article, though.
    1. waldend's Avatar
      waldend -

      Some of my comments may have been misunderstood. Should I pay extra money to support a LFS that sells knowingly diseased fish and dying corals? If I support them it just allows them to take advantage of the next less informed customer. When I was speaking of pricing I was not referring to higher pricing but places with borderline unreasonable prices, disproportionate with the added cost of the brick and mortar. Perhaps all the LFS in Texas are doing it all the right way, hopefully so!

      As for Lowe's and Home Depot, I meant it as we dont think about all the small mom and pop shops they put out of business. I guess I meant it as a commentary on the broader subject.

      "Score a few good deals, but don't forget to feed the kitty. And by kitty, I mean local fish store."

      You say to do this for the good of the hobby, but should I support a LFS that is following practices that are bad for the hobby? What I meant to portray is that we should only support LFS stores that are following sustainable and ethical practices. I agree with the "dont be cheap" but I also felt an undercurrent of we as consumers sacrifing money to the LFS for the betterment of the hobby. In instances mentioned about I disagree with that.

      Excellent topic and debates BTW!
    1. Blown76mav's Avatar
      Blown76mav -
      I agree with what Marc said.....to a point.

      I would support a LFS if I had one. I do have a 2 big box stores that carries salt, chemicals, cheap test kits, some fish and corals and a lot of cats and dogs, but nothing like the one pictured.

      If I want a LFS that handles just fish and corals I have to travel 2hrs in any direction.

      I do buy my salt at one of the two (service is a little better) I pay, on the average 10-15 dollars more per bucket than I can buy on line, even with shipping. I generally buy 5-10 buckets at a time depending on cash flow. I'm trying to support them but when I go in and see them using a test kit I would like to buy and ask where that kit is the response is "We don't sell this brand, its for in store use only." Makes it a little hard to keep on supporting them.

      There fish (when they can keep them alive) seem expensive, for example a 1 - 2 " Yellow Tang is 59.99 - 79.99 depending on which store. GSP is 39.99 for a 1" frag.

      If I travel 2hrs the same Tang is 39.99- 49.99 depending on direction I go. GSP is 10- 15 for a 1" frag ( I would love to sell my GSP for 10.00/inch)

      When I visit my brother in Florida I visit the LFS's their 1 - 2" Yellow Tangs 12.00, for the 59.99 I spend here at home I could buy a 12" Yellow Tang. And their coral selection is greater. These look like the one pictured.

      I would love to hear from the other addicts on a few things,

      1. How far is your LFS. How local is local?
      2. How much is a Yellow Tang 1 -2" in size?
      3. Do they stock well, like the picture?

      I would love to have access to a store like the one pictured, I would never leave.

      BTW, I have never went into any store and expected to pay less than the price shown, as a person in this hobby its my responsibility to be informed if I get a good deal or even a compatible (reef safe fish) I have seen people buy Medusa Worms only to have them stressed out and nuke the tank then complain the LFS sold them something toxic. THEY, the consumer, should have done THEIR homework.
    1. Mccoy85's Avatar
      Mccoy85 -
      Blown76mav. I can go 20 miles in each direction and hit at least 5 stores. A yellow tang is anywhere from $20 to $40 depending on the store. Most of the fish stores are stocked as well as the one in the picture. Depending on what I am looking for I will go to different stores. If I want equipment I will go to one set of stores. If I want fish or coral I will go to others. I understand that not everyone has the ability to do this and obviously the stores don't have to be as competitive if there are no competitors but none the less if I don't have to ship livestock and I can see the fish before I buy it I am all for supporting the local fish stores, even if it does cost me more
    1. melev's Avatar
      melev -
      In our metroplex, which has about 3 million residents, we have over 30 stores available. There's a map on my LFS page: http://www.melevsreef.com/lfs.html Of those stores, I've been to 15 or 20 of them. That one pictured is about 30 minutes away, and is well stocked with inventory and fish. The one closest to me is within walking distance. The majority of the stores carry a good supply of products, and if they don't have it they can get it in by request. I saw a few stores in Florida that were really impressive, as I have in other states.

      Many years ago, I bought a Flame Angel for $58 at a different fish store that has long since moved. When I got home, I loved my new acquisition and watched it swim and peck at the rockwork. For the heck of it, I checked the online price and found out it was only $23. However, overnight shipping added another $36, so it was pretty much a wash. Rather than let that bother me, I enjoyed "Phoenix" for over five years.

      As part of my regular travels, the local club always takes me to some of their favorite fish stores. Why would that be if we didn't need them? We totally do. Not only are they there for us, they are there for anyone else considering the hobby. How the customer is educated comes down to time invested and the interest level of the store's employees & owner. I would like to think that the majority of the stores across our nation put the best interests of the livestock first, and try to help their customers be successful as regards husbandry. We've all heard the horror stoires, more often online than not. I used to follow a fun thread that had story after story of stupid customers or stupid employees, or the stupid questions they heard or had to deal with. That's more about personal entertainment and not a true sampling of our fish stores and their business model(s).
    1. kileysmama's Avatar
      kileysmama -
      Speaking as a manager of a lfs.....

      We get all kinds of customers. Customers who are brand new, and customers who have been keeping fish for years. Customers who need to scrape their pennies together for supplies, and customers who are truly independantly wealthy. Customers who have a million questions, and customers who believe they know it all. Customers who are thankful for our services, and customers who feel entitled to more. The list goes on and on.

      The one thing I can say without any hesitiation, is that all of our customers are treated as well and fairly as we possibly can. We won't sell livestock that we know is sick, even if you tell us you'll take care of it at home. We will sit with you and answer your questions if it's at all possible. We want you to be sucessful, because that's how we make our living. If you're in my store and I spend 45 mins with you, I don't care if you spend $5 or $300. I just want you to leave feeling happy and that my store has value to you. I know that the more knowledge I help you gain, the more you'll come to appreciate me and my staff. The more you appreciate us, the better off we all are. I can stay in business, and you know we're here for you when you need us.

      I can understand why you might need to go somewhere else to buy every fancy gizmo and gadget out there. We have a limited dry goods supply, and it's for a very good reason. Most of our space is dedicated to livestock. It's what we do best. All of the employees at my store are fish dorks, to a lesser or greater extent. We do what we love, and we care about our livestock. I don't want you to go home with animals that are going to die. I don't care that you'll come back to me and spend more money to replace them. I want things to not just survive, but thrive whenever possible.

      We all make mistakes, and I know that not all fish stores have the same values we do. I guess my main point is this: A good lfs can be your best friend in this hobby. Please don't judge us all by the bad stores you may have dealt with. We're out there, just waiting to help. Keep looking for us!
    1. Jessy's Avatar
      Jessy -
      1. How far is your LFS. How local is local?
      -In San Diego there are 4-6 LFS within 20 miles of me that only deal in Fish (meaning not counting Petsmart and the like). And I have been known to gather a bunch of friends and make a drive to the OC or LA to tour the abundance of stores up there.
      2. How much is a Yellow Tang 1 -2" in size?
      -Its been a while since I looked but I'd guess $25-$45 Maybe $60 for a nice sized one
      3. Do they stock well, like the picture?
      -Stores in SD are relatively well stocked. A few more so than others. We have a fair share that drive up to LA weekly to pick apart the new shipments up there.

      I agree with Marc in part but I have to admit I don't really practice what he preaches. I did buy my first tank (Aquapod 24) at a LFS and some of my livestock and rock. I did go shopping for coral at the LFS as well as frag swaps, other friends tanks, and online. With this new tank I'm setting up, I don't know how much shopping in the stores I'm going to do. Though I'm a unique case because I have a wide network of friends in the hobby that I hit up for frags. I do go to the stores for dry goods though. I would regularly buy b-ionic and PE mysis from the LFS.
    1. stangchris's Avatar
      stangchris -
      Great article melev, iam friends with a local fish store owner, and we have had this same convo many times. i dont get why people do not go and shop at lfs, but i enjoy picking the owners brain from his years of expierence in this hobby, especialy an owner that is a hobbiest and has passion for this hobby. when i have problems with my tank he is the first i ask, or even the other old salties that frequent the store. Again i say thank you for having the "brass" to bring light to this subject.
    1. waldend's Avatar
      waldend -
      Kileysmama -

      I wish all LFS owners/operators were like you. I would love to shop at your stores. I dont mind paying a little more to people like you. My thoughts are that you are the exception, not the norm.

      On a side note to you: I will take your comments and assume you dont have any "chlorox mushrooms" or "kiwi anemones" I can buy. Please tell me though that you have some diseased fish that I can not buy. Dont worry about me not buying the sick fish though, I will be happy to pay $25 more for a bucket of salt so you can afford to buy more sick corals and fish to sell to beginners/noobs. People investing large sums of money and having it all die will really grow our hobby!

      Obviously the last paragraph is tongue in cheek to make a bit more clear why I struggle buying from my LFS. I am lucky though that PA and Inland are somewhat "LFS" for me so I can find people doing it right.
    1. agsansoo's Avatar
      agsansoo -
      Living in SoCal my answers to the question are the same as Mccoy85's. I have a LFS I get fish food and live stock from. When it comes to higher end equipment I have to drive into orange county (@ 30 miles). As for our reef club, it is held at a LFS about 20 miles away. While there I always try to purchase something to support them, because they are supporting our club meeting (SCRK). AOA is a great store, I wish I lived closer. Dan the owner is very knowledgeable (two thumb ups). On another thread, on another site. I stated people in SoCal can order online from MD on Monday and receive the items on Tuesday, cheaper (with no sales taxes) than buying from LFS. For me it's dry goods are purchased online, live goods are purchased at LFS, club meeting or reef shows like CFM, MAX or RAP.
    1. mhowe9's Avatar
      mhowe9 -
      Very good article Marc! I try to buy things at the local LFS when I can. There are about 4 that I hit up regularly in the metro Detroit area and a couple of others that I get to when a I can. They fill different niches for me, so I hit different ones depending on what I am looking for. For me, it is nice to be able look a fish or piece of equipment in the local fish store instead of buying off of a picture or a box.

      I do however go to online retailers for equipment that I know I can't find at the LFS and for livestock that isn't usually available in my local area. Though, I have been surprised at what I have at the LFS if look hard enough and are patient. One of my harder to find broodstock pairs (A. Akyndynos), I found at an LFS by my house.

      In my opinion, there is role for both the online retailer and the LFS in this hobby. It up to the individual hobbyist what roles each fills for them, with the understanding of what Marc has said in his article.
    1. Blown76mav's Avatar
      Blown76mav -
      Have I mentioned I HATE Ohio!!!!!! I would love to have a fish store even 50 miles one way that was worth the trip. My 2 hrs are one way, 150-160 miles each way.but because they have good service, products and take the time to talk to me I'm willing to drive. I couldn't imagine having one in walking distance, I'd be exercising every day.
    1. cruelle's Avatar
      cruelle -
      My LFS here in Green Bay, Wi is about 10 min away from my house and there is several more around the city but Scott's "Fish Unlimted" is the one I can be found at the most. His staff is great honest, knowledgeable and just all around great people He selection is good with middle of the road prices for being a ways for the ocean 39-49 for a pretty good size yellow tang. In the end I go here because of the great friendship and good time I have while visiting scott,s store.
    1. NightShade's Avatar
      NightShade -
      I haven't chimed in on this yet for a couple of reasons.

      First of all I handle my aquarium much like my business. I have a couple websites and I work on computers. Neither is a full tiem job but they are something that I want to expand because I enjoy them.

      With working on and building computers, I have always had people wanting something super great but cheap. Sad fact is I can not compete with Dell, HP or the like on being cheap. . . it's just not possible. I can hand pick parts that will be fast and reliable but those cost more than the mass produced low quality parts that the big guys use. Though being a small guy generally working at peoples home, or business I have found a niche that the local shops don't want. But I still find at least one local store to do business with should there be something that is needed immediately. If something goes down and I don't have the part myself and can't wait to order it I buy it local, I also make sure to make a purchase from time to time no matter what. A motherboard here, a power supply there, maybe a case. . . just depends on what I can find. But most of my purchases are done online.

      I do a bit more in purchases tank wise from my LFS, Salt. . . Always, Sand. . . yep, Rock. . . have so far except a couple pieces I got from MarcoRocks at CRASE, Livestock. . . have so far. I want to see the stores succeed, and while I lived in Lawton I even offered my hosting services free of charge no strings attached to do so. The current site was from the previous store owner and had not even updated the new location, ownership change, or phone numbers. I put 200.00 down for a rock order that was going to be a group kinda buy, the shop buying about 500.00 worth and 3 or 4 other people putting in 200.00 plus each and about 6 weeks later the business went under and I got a used 29 tank and stand instead. That was a couple years ago and I made the best of it. Hopefully pretty soon I will make a sump and overflow, build a hood and make it something a lot nicer than the HOB biowheel with a plastic light and glass top I got.

      I use the internet extensively for price, feature, look comparison. I lookup the name of a fish to see a picture knowing that the online pic will probably be the best specimen possible and see what the price would average online. If it's within 5-7% or 5.00 to 7.00 on a 15.00 purchase I pick it up local. . . no biggy cause with shipping it will probably be more and I know that I have helped a local guy out, paid taxes to the local gov, potentially put more money into the local economy and food on someone's plate.

      Something more major or unique, Icecap retrofit t-5 lighting system, t5 bulbs, skimmer, I get it online. My tank was something I built, I knew what I wanted and didn't mind waiting to get it, a LFS tried to sell me used vho's for about the same price I got new t-5's. I couldn't justify not getting them online. Bought my nice RO/DI online too nothing in town compared even if I put one together myself.

      The only LFS I have been to in OKC has a lot of stuff and a lot of livestock but I always see at least 5 dead fish floating in a tank and at least a dozen that look like they need to be pulled so they can heal up and be treated with the girls standing at the counter gabbing away. I like to look around and a few tanks are really very nice and enjoy seeing them but even when I do see something I like it's hard to pull out my wallet knowing that they don't care well enough for what they have, which is something I don't want to support.

      I have always tried to bring money into the community in some way, stuff that is needed right away or has a high shipping cost is always a local purchase. Things that I can order much cheaper with shipping than I can get local, I get online. If the cost difference is minimal it is generally picked up local unless I am already making an order online, it can go either way. I have had the same philosophy for 10 years and it has worked out pretty well so far.

      Sorry for this being a little long winded, guess I get that way a lot of times.
    1. BackReefer's Avatar
      BackReefer -
      I got into this hobby when I took over my father' s 40 gal. when I was 10. Long story short, I learned a good 80% of what I know from hanging out at the local fish stores since I could earn money for my own tanks. The problem with our hobby is that the big "pet" corporations have turned it into the almighty dollar and don't take the time to educate the customer. That's why I stop at every garage sale, to have fun with a tank full of uninformed dreams.
    1. ramonfernandez's Avatar
      ramonfernandez -
      Quote Originally Posted by washingtond View Post
      Marc well written and I would add that everyone should ask themselves would they miss their LFS if it was no longer there? There needs to be balance as you stated with our purchases, some online but we cannot forget our LFS.
      I agree. We should also support our lfs. Even if we regularly buy fish online, we should still have some time and money to support them. One thing that is taken forgranted is the community these lfs' build.