The photo is of the interior of our customer Aquazoo.
A while back, I blogged about the Demise of Mom & Pop Fish Stores http://goliadfarms.com/demise-mom-pop-fish-stores/ and the impact on our business. That blog received a number of responses. One response was private. It was from the owner of AquaZoo in Houston (okay, between Houston and Galveston). Prosper, the owner, emailed me to point out that not only was his Mom & Pop store thriving but that I’d used a photo of his store and misidentified it as the now closed Amazonia in Austin. I looked through our photo files and found that of course he was right. I promised to blog a correction. Well…I’m finally getting around to that.
AquaZoo (http://www.aquazoohouston.com/) is a longtime customer of ours and, based on their purchases from us, are doing well.
I believe there is a need for local fish stores, such as Aquazoo, that provide their customers with expert advice and healthy fish. I also believe the big box stores are not providing either expert advice or healthy fish. I’ve cringed at the overheard advice clerks in such stores were giving novice customers; advice such as placing a baby Oscar in a 20 gallon tank with neon tetras. I’ve seen fish being sold from a tank with an obvious case of ich and another where the mollies were shimmying and soon to die. I’ve also seen the impact of internet sales of livestock on retail pet stores. Without a vibrant retail pet store industry, I fear for the hobby.
Aquazoo provides both healthy fish and expert advice to its customers and it is thriving as a result. It probably helps that Aquazoo is in one of the largest metro areas in the country with a large population of fish-keepers available. Houston has always had a strong retail sector. I remember in college driving to Houston with a friend once a month to sell killifishes and tour the stores to see what was going on in the hobby. Online shopping doesn’t offer the same opportunity to browse through live fish and picking out one that actually is what you want. Online shopping rarely lets you look through the fish and pick one. The photos are often of superior fish and not the sales items.
I hope future hobbyists continue to have the chance in their home cities of seeing healthy fish being maintained properly and to get the advice critical to success in the hobby.
Its good to hear a m&p still thriving. I have been saying we are a rare breed these days. But the future is still looking rough around the edges. Internet is still a thorn to many and not just us. The industry itself and dealing with vendors /manufactures and less quality and higher priced dry goods. Same with live stock with quality lacking and some price increases. Then shipping issues etc. I say you have to adapt to change and reinvent the wheel to survive but its still a challenge.. I am going on 24 years in business and about 31 in the industry.
I’ve had one mom & pop customer tell me they won’t be stocking any hardware over $50 because people browse, scan, and buy it online. Another customer is considering selling livestock only. We also struggle with shipping costs, not only to our wholesale customers but to our new retail customers (sorry to be competing with you on livestock sales). We try to refer retail orders to wholesale customers due to the high cost of shipping small orders. Congratulations on surviving that long. I tried retail in my younger days and had three stores. It’s very hard work.
I would like to hear from Aquazoo on what they are doing that others are not ,to be successful. Are they active with on line sales ? Are they paying better to keep good help? training classes? seminars? Out reach to schools?
I think anything they can share on their success would be helpful to the whole pet retail industry. We hear so much about why independents can’t survive . Let us hear from one that is.
I have written to you before on this subject and I think that anytime we can explore the positive side, we should.
I’m going to pass your thoughts along to Prosper, the owner of Aquazoo and see what he has to say.
I think that when it comes to introducing people to the hobby, the LFS is invaluable, but I need to be honest: I MUCH prefer that my money go to people in the hobby who are rearing and breeding their own stock. I also like being able to buy the exact fish I want and I like to support their efforts/hobby. If I want some particular variety of guppy, I can find it online. Sure, the pictures of what is offered may or may not be representative, but I’ve had only FANTASTIC results ordering from online vendors.
It seems to me that the LFS near me doesn’t even know what’s coming in on a particular shipment any given week. That is aggravating and if I were to wait for any of the current species of fish that I have running in my fish room to show up at the LFS I’d need to live to be a thousand.
Just some thoughts.
Randy Chapman says
Prosper and Shannon are very nice, knowledgeable folks that try to go the extra mile to accommodate their customers. Please visit their store and I promise you will find something you either haven’t seen elsewhere in a retail store, or animals of higher quality compared to what’s commonly available!
Prosper and Shannon run a very nice shop. I highly recommend it.
I love the way you write your blogs, very relatable and down to Earth- it feels like I am being spoken to from a friend. I pray for ya’lls recovery from this past winter ice storm.
I’m happy I’ve been going back thru these older post and to find this; I will plan a visit to this location in the near future as I live on the North Side of Houston and feel there are very little options North of beltway 8. I’ve been looking for the “small business” stores as apposed to the “franchises”; clearly because I want to buy from people who are as passionate as I am.
Charles Clapsaddle says
Thank you. We are also now doing YouTube videos documenting our recovery from the 2021 winter storm.
We will be opening our hatchery for visits once the pandemic is under control.