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Selling Plants

Contents:

  1. [F] What plants are worth
    by booth-at-lvld.hp.com (George Booth) (15 Nov 1994)
  2. Experiences with Selling to LFS, Blah Blah [Longish]
    by Erik Olson (e-mail) (Tue, 10 Feb 1998)
  3. Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #79
    by "Chetlen R. Crossnoe" <cc691077/bcm.tmc.edu> (Tue, 10 Feb 1998)
  4. LFS pricing
    by IDMiamiBob/aol.com (Tue, 10 Feb 1998)
  5. Selling Plants to LFS
    by krandall/world.std.com (Tue, 10 Feb 1998)
  6. selling plants to the LFS
    by Stephen Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca> (Tue, 10 Feb 1998)
  7. Trading plants to LFS
    by ac554/freenet.carleton.ca (David Whittaker) (Wed, 11 Feb 1998)
  8. RE: selling plants to the LFS
    by "Webb, Keith" <webb/sbec.com> (Wed, 11 Feb 1998)
  9. Experiences with Selling to LFS, Blah Blah [Longish]
    by krandall/world.std.com (Wed, 11 Feb 1998)
  10. Selling plants to LFS
    by "Maladorno, Dionigi (DRUG;Nutley)" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/roche.com> (Wed, 11 Feb 1998)
  11. RE: selling plants to the LFS
    by Charley Bay <charleyb/cytomation.com> (Wed, 11 Feb 1998)
  12. Sale of Plants to LFS
    by krandall/world.std.com (Wed, 11 Feb 1998)
  13. LFS pricing
    by Hoa Nguyen <nguyenh/nosc.mil> (Wed, 11 Feb 1998)
  14. The other side of the LFS <long>
    by Jim Kostich <jkos/execpc.com> (Thu, 12 Feb 1998)

[F] What plants are worth

by booth-at-lvld.hp.com (George Booth)
Date: 15 Nov 1994
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria,alt.aquaria

Folks have mentioned selling freshwater tanks at club auctions and
to fish shops.  I thought the net might be interested in what kind
of money this activity brings in. 

The Colorado Aquarium Society (CAS) held an auction as part of their
mini-convention in Denver in October.  We had allowed our four ~100
gallon plants tanks to grow out for a month so we would have a nice
selection to take to the auction.  We also saved large clumps of Anubias
when we replanted our 90 gallon tank in July.  We filled 68 large bags
with plants from the four tanks.  Here are the totals for two days of
bidding.  The second column shows the final bid for each of the bags of
the specific plant type and the last column shows the total for that
type.  The bids shown are more than a retail store would pay for your
plants; bidders get carried away sometimes. 

  Plant species                Final bids             Total
  ---------------------------  ---------------        -----
  Alternanthera sessilis       8,7,7                   $ 22
  Anubias barteri              11,11,9,12,16,15,12,13    99
  Anubias barteri var. nana    13,13                     26 
  Anubias coffeeafolia         21,15                     36
  Bacopa caroliniana           3,5,6,2,3,2,6             27
  Echinodorus bleheri          20,10,6,12                48
  Echinodorus horemanii        7,9,3,3,3                 25
  Echinodorus quadricostatus   10,10,9,4,6,5             44
  Echinodorus radicans         4                          4
  Eleocharis acicularis        2                          2
  Heteranthera zosterifolia    5,6,3                     14
  Hydrocotyle leucocephala     5,5,6,2,1,4               23
  Hygrophila stricta           4                          4
  Limnobium laevigatum         1,1                        2
  Ludwigia arcuata             3,4,3,2,2                 14
  Microsorium pteropus         13,15                     28
  Nymphaea spec.               3                          3
  Rotala macrandra             6                          6
  Sagittaria subulata          9                          9
  Samolus parviflorus          5,5                       10
  Shinnersia rivularis         2                          2
  Vallisneria spiralis         6,7,7,8                   28
                                                      --------
                                                      $ 476.00
                                       -30% to CAS      142.80
                                                      --------
                                                        333.20

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
George Booth                         "Nothing in the world is more dangerous 
booth-at-hplvec.lvld.hp.com             than sincere ignorance and conscientious 
Freshwater Plant Tank Technology     stupidity" - Martin Luther King, Jr. 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Experiences with Selling to LFS, Blah Blah [Longish]

by Erik Olson (e-mail)
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998

My experiences on selling plants has been varied.  Much depends on the
people you deal with.  My initial contact was with a guy who was really
interested in plants and really went out of his way to let the "special" 
customers know when he got something exotic... when I finally started
having excess plants, he was blown away that anyone would bring *IN*
plants, and I was blown away that anyone would actually pay me for them. 
Eventually, like all good college age fish store employees, he got his
botany degree and went off to a real job, and was replaced by someone who
was so utterly inept at both growing plants and carrying on a
conversation.  I tried several times to bring in my cuttings, but was
always turned away: "There's some algae on these", "We don't want Rotala",
"We just got a shipment of plants last week".  That pretty much kept me
out of the stores for a year or more.  Since then I've met some nice
employees again, but I still can't sell plants to the store because I've
become more greedy (or you could say "selective"); they can only give me
20% of the plants' true value (my eyes nearly popped out of my sockets
when I brought in some giant pieces of Java fern... probably $50-100
worth... and they offered me $15 for it, while in their display tanks they
were selling three rhizomes each with a single frond, rubberbanded
together for $5.). 

I have, however, discovered the alternative option, which was to bring in
cuttings to the local aquarium club meetings. The buyer pays less than
retail, gets good quality specimens right out of a healthy tank, and can
ask how they were grown on the spot.  The seller gets more than wholesale,
and knows it goes to a home where they will at least try to propagate it. 
This has become such a high-demand thing with our club that we've ended up
devoting an entire monthly meeting to nothing but plant auctioning (as
those of you reading the newsgroups have seen, and are about ready to bop
us on the head for our accidental rapidly-approaching-spam postings). The
only downside of this has been that trimming days don't always synch up
with club meetings. 

The other alternative is to trade or sell over mail.  I've also had mixed
success with this, sometimes getting "burned" by the trade, but I take it
in stride. Two of my favorite plants, Microsorum "Tropica" and "Windelov",
grew from microscopic cuttings I got from a certain well-respected member
of this list in a padded envelope... they've now grown into several
forests, and I will never forget that trade.  I also have some of the best
Lobelia I've ever seen grow from a single traded cutting from another,
smuggled across the Canadian border most likely. :)  Oh yeah, and can't
forget the Bolbitis heteroclita that is now occupying an entire 10-gallon
emersed tank that was originally mailed to me in a small box in trade for
some B. heudoloti (which COULD be submerged).

OK, too long a post.  I stop now. :)

  - Erik

- ---
Erik Olson				
eriko at wrq.com


Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #79

by "Chetlen R. Crossnoe" <cc691077/bcm.tmc.edu>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998

>Karen, my LFS offered me 14% for some fish.  I flushed them rather than
>give them away.  This store has a rep for very high retail prices too.
>Often twice what the mail order places charge.

OK, this may be a troll but I'm biting...

Give me a break.  You don't like your LFS's prices so you take it out on
the fish?  Shoot, I'd be happy to get 14% back on my fish or plants either
one.  Think about it--fishes have hundreds of fry per brood; if only about
15 survived the first batch you'd pay for the parents right off.  And
plants, under the right condition, can double ever month or so.  If you
don't like the deal you're LFS is giving you can almost certainly do better
with hobbyists in your area.

And don't even get me started on flushing live, healthy fish.  What are you
in this hobby for anyway?  Most of us are in it for the joy of caring for
beautiful, LIVING specimens.  When we take in a pet--be it fish, dog, cat,
whatever--we assume certain responsibilities toward it.  One of those
responsibilities is doing our best to keep it alive, and certainly not
going our of our way to kill it.  Find it another home, give it to the LFS
for free, or something, these are reasonable discharges of your
responsibility.  But don't just flush it because YOU don't want to bother.



LFS pricing

by IDMiamiBob/aol.com
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998

Dave Gomberg writes:

<< Karen, my LFS offered me 14% for some fish.  I flushed them rather than
> give them away.  This store has a rep for very high retail prices too.
> Often twice what the mail order places charge. >>
>>

Standard wholesale on livestock should be 1/3 retail.  When I used to sell
angels for to one of my favorite LFS's years ago, the proprietor always
lowered the retail to reflect this ratio, "passing on the savings to the
consumer".  I can understand your frustration.  You may have to go further
afield to find a more reputable store.

One place I sold killies to for $3/pair, turned around and charged $15.  When
I returned with another batch, and pointed out he was the only store in
Baltimore that had killies, thanks to me, and that I expected to receive a
fair price, and that I could probably get said fair price from up the street,
I got $5/pair, the fair wholesale price for the retail.

Not every store is easy to deal with.  Many proprietors have been struggling
for so long that they have lost sight of the benefits of establishing and
maintaining a good relationship with the "big spenders" who are into this
hobby to the point of insanity.  They try to make a killing at our expense,
sometimes just so they can survive, and instead end up losing steady customers
who would over the long haul improve the store's line

Bob Dixon



Selling Plants to LFS

by krandall/world.std.com
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998

George wrote:

>If it's not "too much trouble" as it is with our LFS.  "Please come in
when we 
>are not busy" (i.e., not on weekends), "please only deal with the owner"
(not on 
>Mondays and Tuesdays), "only bring in stuff I can sell in a hurry" (because 
>plants die in our holding tanks), "only come in when College Students are 
>setting up their tanks" (September and January). It's far easier to drop
them in 
>the garbage can!

I think you've got to find a different store.  I've had several occasions
when I've had a lot of plants and no time to get them to the LFS.  I've
called them up and they've sent someone over to get them.  Of course, I'm
also tolerant of their bringing the occasional customer over to see my
tanks.<g>

>I have a short dissenting opinion.  It would seem to me that the LFS depends 
>more on *lack* of success with plants than anything else.  After all, once 
>someone becomes adept at growing plants, there is very little need to buy
more.  

It's going to be a _very_ long time before there are more people growing
plants than killing them.  In the mean time, the smart stores are getting
on the "planted tank band wagon".  This is a new market segment that astute
stores can tap into, just like the reef market.  There will always be
beginners and there will always be a need for beginner plants.  The better
stores will start to carry more exotic plants, and _hopefully_ more plant
related dry goods.  I'd love to be able to go into my LFS and pick up
laterite off the shelf.  He'll order it for me any time I ask, but he, at
this point, doesn't sell enough of it to have a lot of money tied up in
inventory.  The last time he ordered Dupla products for me, he got some
extras for stock.  They sat on the shelf until the next time _I_ needed
them.<g>

>The only plants we ever buy now are species we don't have yet or got rid
of in 
>the past for whatever reason.  And guess who doesn't carry the more
interesting 
>species? 

Again, maybe you need a better store.  Mine gives me a call when they get a
new plant list in, and we go over it together.  They'll order anything I
request personally, and also have me pick out plants they should order for
the store.

>Frankly, the LFS that carries plants goes out of their way to make us want
to 
>buy things from the "other" LFS or mail-order suppliers.  For example, they 
>don't carry the specific items we want (mostly because the owner is pissed
at 
>most of the wholesaleers in the area and won't carry their lines) and they
won't 
>special order anything for us (too much trouble). 

Boy, you do have a problem.  My "regular" LFS is within 10 minutes of my
house.  And does eveerything they can to help me.  There's another about an
hour away that has an extensive line of planted tank dry goods, and a nice
selection of plants.  While I don't go there that often, others have told
me that the owner of this place is as willing to help as my local guy is.

>The only things we ever bought there were two-pound bags of frozen food
cubes 
>and PennPlax Ultra TriLux bulbs.  The "other" store now special orders UTL
bulbs 
>and sells them to us for less than mail order prices.  Now we buy smaller
packs 
>of frozen cubes from him. 

So why not work on him to keep a better inventory of plants in the store too?

Dave Gomberg wrote:

>Karen, my LFS offered me 14% for some fish.  I flushed them rather than
>give them away.  This store has a rep for very high retail prices too.
>Often twice what the mail order places charge.

I guess I'm lucky that we have the stores around that we have.  But maybe
it's at least _partly_ because our local aquarium clubs work hard to
cultivate the good will of the LFS's.

My LFS sells _only_ local hobbyist raised Angels and Guppies, and mostly
hobyist raise Discus. (they do occasionally import wild-caught Discus for
their hobbyists who like to outcross to wild stock)

On any given day you can find tanks of Killies, Rainbows and Dwarf Cichlids
that have been raised by local hobbyists, not to mention _scads_ of locally
raised Africans.  

BTW, they also sell wholesale, and ship fish.  I don't know if they ship to
Canada, but I do know they ship regularly to Bermuda, because a friend of
mine does their vet certificates.  If anyone's interested in their
stock/price list, they can be contacted at cichfish-at-aol.com.  And no, Dave,
except that I get rid of my excess plants there, I don't have any business
or financial interest ;-)


Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association


selling plants to the LFS

by Stephen Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998

Yes, I've had all the complaints from the larger LFS that George
mentions and so for the most part I don't go there except to get frozen
fish food and see if there are any new cool Crypts or Aponogetons in
(almost never).

Not sure what George's advise was other than to toss the excess in the
garbage (which I do with Salvinia) but I have had to get real creative
to get rid of my excess trimmings. Here's what I did.

1) I made friends with a guy (Matt the owner and sole employee) at a
small, struggling aquarium shop (Oasis Pets and Aquariums on Hastings
St.) and helped him set up a tank with a soil & peat substrate and yeast
CO2 injection. I gave him a bottle of my mineral and nutrient mix and
calcium carbonate and instructions on how to use the stuff. About every
week or two I bring him a new bunch of trimmings. The number one plant
he sells is the pink Hygro poly. I get a few bucks for my trimmings
(which otherwise get tossed) and wholesale prices on whatever I need
that he carries.

2) I take cuttings to various aquarium club meetings and sell or give
them away. Not sure I'm coming out ahead on that because I now have a
bunch of killies and baby killies that are even harder to market. :-)

3) I help anybody I can who's interested get their aquariums going with
plants. That's not money making but its gratifying and the trimmings
don't go to waste.

Steve Pushak
Aquatic Gardeners Association - the Vancouver chapter


Trading plants to LFS

by ac554/freenet.carleton.ca (David Whittaker)
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998

My LFS takes several bags of my cullings fortnightly and manages
to sell a fair amount. I try to supply them with mostly low to
medium light species. Unfortunately the customers seldom know
what they are buying, and anubias species often languish in the
tanks even at US$3 a plant. Echinodorus quadricostatus and E.
latifolius sell for $0.25 each etc. etc. Price is everything in
the pet trade in Ottawa.

I receive credit of $0.07 for the above, and $1.00 for a nice
anubias nana var. nana. I do it mostly because this LFS tries
hard. Let us consider it a public service. Ammannia, rotala sp.,
and high light plants end up in the composter. Demand is limited.

If more people had an adequate setup, even this limited market
would be diminished, so I'm grateful.



RE: selling plants to the LFS

by "Webb, Keith" <webb/sbec.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998

I have been selling and trading to my LFS for the past year.  I have sold   
over 500 green swordtails, 200 white cloud mountain minnows, and tons of   
JAVA FERN.  I too have run into the trouble of getting what I would like   
for my products.  What I have found out that is better than trying to get   
cash is to trade for fish/plant products.  To this date I have acquired:
(1) 30 gallon fish tank
(3) 10 gallon fish tanks
(3) free refills of a 20# CO2 tank
(many) containers of fish food
(many) fish
(6) fluorescent light bulbs to my tanks
(little) cash
The reason for little cash is that this comes right from the stores   
profit.  It is better for the small trader/seller to trade for items.  I   
have found that the store is more willing to trade for items since it is   
better for both sides of the transaction.  The store has a markup on   
products that can reach 100%.  If you purchase from the store then you   
will be paying all the high prices.  But if you trade I have found that   
the store will in essence give you more for your plants/fish since most   
of the time they will give you the items a the cost they paid for them   
and not the marked up price.
Try to approach the store manager this way.
I have not been to a local Society but I am doing my best to get to a   
meeting this month here in Houston.


Best of luck.
Keith

Internet: klwebb-at-sbec.com


Experiences with Selling to LFS, Blah Blah [Longish]

by krandall/world.std.com
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998

Erik wrote:

>I have, however, discovered the alternative option, which was to bring in
>cuttings to the local aquarium club meetings. The buyer pays less than
>retail, gets good quality specimens right out of a healthy tank, and can
>ask how they were grown on the spot.  The seller gets more than wholesale,
>and knows it goes to a home where they will at least try to propagate it. 
<snip>
>The
>only downside of this has been that trimming days don't always synch up
>with club meetings. 

This is my first choice as well, but as you mentioned, It's often necessary
to trim when a meeting is just too long away.  In those cases, I'd rather
take them to the LFS than throw them in the trash.  (BTW, annual auctions
are likely to bring you even more $ for plants, particularly the more
unusual ones, or particularly well grown specimens)

>The other alternative is to trade or sell over mail.  I've also had mixed
>success with this, sometimes getting "burned" by the trade, but I take it
>in stride. 

I've also made the occasional good trade, and think this is very worthwhile
with more unusual plants.  But I don't think it's worth the time and effort
to box up stuff like Water Sprite and other fast growing common plants.

I think Steve's comment that this is an opportunity to give back to a hobby
that has been good to me is a good one.  I'd _never_ throw away plants that
I could even give away in a reasonable period of time.  I even have a tank
set up _just_ to hold cuttings of more interesting plants.  I _do_ have to
admit that I just toss the Salvinia though ;-)


Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association


Selling plants to LFS

by "Maladorno, Dionigi (DRUG;Nutley)" <DIONIGI.MALADORNO/roche.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998

It is easier to be able to sell plants if you accept to
be paid in store credits, rather than cash.
I always need a lot of stuff for my tanks, planted or not,
and the store I deal with is I guess giving me good credit
for what I bring in (for example, $.50-.60 for a 4-5 stem 
bunch of green stem plants, a little more for red rotala, about
a dollar for a medium size water sprite, up to 6-7 $ for a 12-16"
echinodorus). If I wanted cash, I think it would be less
favorable.

Dionigi 


From
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 07:49:12 -0500 (EST)
From: "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill-at-rt66.com>
Subject: Re: CO2, plant sales, covers


The shop I deal with (the largest non-franchise in this area) gives me 50%
of retail on fish and 67% of retail on plants, both in trade.  Never cash.
Doing it in trade that way their actual cost is even smaller.  If the
markup on hardware is only 100%, then their cost is only 25% of retail for
fish and 33% of retail for plants.  I figure that both the store and the
hobbyist come out in good shape that way.

The store owner and employees seem to be actively interested in buying
from local hobbyist.  Just think, they get livestock that is already
acclimated to local conditions and hasn't suffered the stress of shipment.
They get plants that are in peak condition.  The fact that both livestock
and plants are healthy reduces their losses, so their profits are higher.

Besides, it encourages people to be more interested in the hobby and to
invest more in hardware.  And that (the hardware) is probably where most
of the profit is.

The attitude at this shop may be part of the reason why they're the most
successful shop in the area.


RE: selling plants to the LFS

by Charley Bay <charleyb/cytomation.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998

George wrote:
> > If it's not "too much trouble" as it is with our LFS.  "Please come in
> > when we  are not busy" (i.e., not on weekends), "please only 
> > deal with the owner" (not on Mondays and Tuesdays), "only bring 
> > in stuff I can sell in a hurry" (because plants die in our holding 
> > tanks), "only come in when College Students are setting up 
> > their tanks" (September and January). It's far easier to drop
> > them in the garbage can!

?Karen responded:
> I think you've got to find a different store.  

I'm in the same town as George, so I understand his predicament.
There are other stores... about an hour and a half away.

> >I have a short dissenting opinion.  It would seem to me that the LFS depends 
> >more on *lack* of success with plants than anything else.  After all, once 
> >someone becomes adept at growing plants, there is very little need to buy
> >more.  

> It's going to be a _very_ long time before there are more people growing
> plants than killing them.  In the mean time, the smart stores are getting
> on the "planted tank band wagon".  

I agree:  We need a smart store.  However, what George is not
telling you that they *really* see him as competition.  I don't think
they want to go very far for "good will".  We all know about the success 
of George's tanks and his high volume, high quality output. That's pretty 
intimidating for the store that knows their plants won't be good enough 
for George to buy (unless they special-order some new or interesting 
species).

I agree with you that it's not smart on the part of the store, but it's 
the reality of the situtation.  It's taken me many years and many
thousands of dollars (literally) before I realized the relationship
with the store is pretty one-sided.  I teach and meet a lot of people
with fish, and the store really does have a reputation:  They are
large, offer more species than anyone else in town, but "have
a real attitude".

> > Frankly, the LFS that carries plants goes out of their way to make us 
> > want to buy things from the "other" LFS or mail-order suppliers.  
> > For example, they don't carry the specific items we want (mostly 
> > because the owner is pissed at most of the wholesaleers in 
> > the area and won't carry their lines) and they won't 
> >special order anything for us (too much trouble). 

> Boy, you do have a problem.  

Me too.  ;-(  
That's why I *love* swapping plants with you guys on this list!

Now, though, I'm more like George:  His plants are better than
mine, (I don't have MH or CO2), but I'm still running at a plant
surplus and rarely have fish death.  I produce ten times what I 
would be able to buy (both fish and plants). 

> >The only things we ever bought there were two-pound bags of frozen 
> > food cubes and PennPlax Ultra TriLux bulbs.  The "other" store now 
> > special orders UTL bulbs and sells them to us for less than 
> > mail order prices.  Now we buy smaller packs of frozen cubes 
> > from him. 

> So why not work on him to keep a better inventory of plants 
> in the store too?

That store is a "pet store", and sells items for dogs, cats,
gerbils, lizards, snakes, etc. as well as fish.  They physically aren't
even as large as the other store, and I think are limited as 
a result.  

I thought the people in there were helpful, and I especially liked
the fact that they let you "swap out" large fish for smaller ones
that better fit your tanks (the big store allows absolutely none
of this).  However, this little store regularly stocks the 
dye-injected blueberry and painted tetras, so I'm on a little 
personal boycott.  (When I asked if they knew the fish were 
dye-injected, they responded, "Yes, but that's what people 
want, so we keep ordering them").

SO, I'll make the appeal here.  ANYBODY WANT TO OPEN
A FISH STORE in the very exciting town of Fort Collins,
Colorado USA?  It's nestled in the front range of the Rocky
Mountains in northern Colorado, and there's a land-grant
state university in this town of 150,000.  We could use
a great fish store.  We get all four seasons, temperatures
reach into 70F every month of the year (even if there is
snow on the ground), and we have a huge consumer demand.

I wanted George to open a fish store, or maybe partner
with me to open one, but he has too much sense.

Further, what we really *need* is a local aquarium
club.  There's nothing here, and no store is willing to
sponsor one (apparently, they fear they may have to
give away door prizes or something, and it might be
"too much trouble".)

- --charley bay


Sale of Plants to LFS

by krandall/world.std.com
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998

>The shop I deal with (the largest non-franchise in this area) gives me 50%
>of retail on fish and 67% of retail on plants, both in trade.  Never cash.
>Doing it in trade that way their actual cost is even smaller.  If the
>markup on hardware is only 100%, then their cost is only 25% of retail for
>fish and 33% of retail for plants.  I figure that both the store and the
>hobbyist come out in good shape that way.

I haven't figured out the exact value either of my plants or of the
merchandise I receive in trade.  (I know the owner of the store doesn't
either)  I can say that, like you, I am satisfied with the return I get,
and the store owner is too.

>The attitude at this shop may be part of the reason why they're the most
>successful shop in the area.

Yup, and that's the type of shop _WE_ have to go out of our way to support
and promote.

Charley wrote:

>I agree:  We need a smart store.  However, what George is not
>telling you that they *really* see him as competition.  I don't think
>they want to go very far for "good will".  We all know about the success 
>of George's tanks and his high volume, high quality output. That's pretty 
>intimidating for the store that knows their plants won't be good enough 
>for George to buy (unless they special-order some new or interesting 
>species).

I think I'm pretty much in the same position as George, as is Neil Frank in
his neck of the woods.  We all produce a _lot_ of top quality plants.  I
suspect if your store had a little more _real_ competiton, they wouldn't
feel the need to compete with a hobbyist, even a really good one.  

BTW, it's not that the store's plants aren't "good enough" for me to buy,
but it makes no sense for me to buy something I'm already pruning at home.
My tanks are so packed I have to use a shoe horn to cram in that new
"unusual" plant when I run across it.  No one can keep everything, and when
you've learned to grow plants well, every time you put something new in the
tank, you are choosing to let it take the place of something else.  

>I agree with you that it's not smart on the part of the store, but it's 
>the reality of the situtation.  It's taken me many years and many
>thousands of dollars (literally) before I realized the relationship
>with the store is pretty one-sided.  I teach and meet a lot of people
>with fish, and the store really does have a reputation:  They are
>large, offer more species than anyone else in town, but "have
>a real attitude".

We have a store like that nearby too.  Many hobbyists start there... they
do offer more choice than most other stores in the area.  Most long term
hobbyists turn elsewhere when they realize that they really are paying more
than they should for little in return.  We're lucky to have Uncle Ned's as
an alternative.  It's not as glitzy as the other store, and they don'e
carry as big a selection of dry goods.  But they'll get you anything you
want at a better price than the other store, and they're friendly, helpful,
and reasonably knowledgeable as well.

>> So why not work on him to keep a better inventory of plants 
>> in the store too?
>
>That store is a "pet store", and sells items for dogs, cats,
>gerbils, lizards, snakes, etc. as well as fish.  They physically aren't
>even as large as the other store, and I think are limited as 
>a result.  

Big isn't necessarily better.  Ned's is smaller than the other store too.
I like the "we try harder" mentality myself.<g>

>I thought the people in there were helpful, and I especially liked
>the fact that they let you "swap out" large fish for smaller ones
>that better fit your tanks (the big store allows absolutely none
>of this).  However, this little store regularly stocks the 
>dye-injected blueberry and painted tetras, so I'm on a little 
>personal boycott.  (When I asked if they knew the fish were 
>dye-injected, they responded, "Yes, but that's what people 
>want, so we keep ordering them").

I can see both sides of this coin.  I HATE the practice of dying fish.  Ned
and I have discussed it as well.  Unfortunately, these little stores,
especially if they haven't been around for very long, have _got_ to make a
profit, if they are going to stay in business.  In this case, the subject
is very much market driven.  At Ned's, they used to carry fish like this
because they needed every sale they could make.  Now that the store has
turned the corner, and has become more prosperous, I haven't seen any dyed
fish for a while.

>SO, I'll make the appeal here.  ANYBODY WANT TO OPEN
>A FISH STORE in the very exciting town of Fort Collins,
>Colorado USA?  It's nestled in the front range of the Rocky
>Mountains in northern Colorado, and there's a land-grant
>state university in this town of 150,000.  We could use
>a great fish store.  We get all four seasons, temperatures
>reach into 70F every month of the year (even if there is
>snow on the ground), and we have a huge consumer demand.
>
>I wanted George to open a fish store, or maybe partner
>with me to open one, but he has too much sense.

That's the trouble.  Anyone who has any business sense knows better than to
open an independent LFS.<g>

>Further, what we really *need* is a local aquarium
>club.  There's nothing here, and no store is willing to
>sponsor one (apparently, they fear they may have to
>give away door prizes or something, and it might be
>"too much trouble".)

I don't know many stores anywhere that "sponsor" A.S.'s (although many of
the good ones give discounts to A.S. members)  All it takes is a living
room, a bunch of posters and a lot of energy to get the nucleus of an A.S.
going.  You don't even need to put the posters in pet stores (although that
helps)  Put them at the grocery store, the hardware store and the library.
Send a press release to the local paper too.  A good A.S. is "simply" a
matter of getting a group of interested aquarists together and saying
"let's do it!"


LFS pricing

by Hoa Nguyen <nguyenh/nosc.mil>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998

I'm surprised some people have so little luck trading plants back to their
local fish stores.  I found at least 3 fish stores in San Diego that would
take my plants, giving me 1/3 of their retail price.  They are usually the
ones that have a good plant selection, adequate lighting to keep their
plants healthy, and therefore brisk business selling plants.

Hoa
  

The other side of the LFS <long>

by Jim Kostich <jkos/execpc.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998

Having dealt with fish and plants "trade-ins" for nearly 30 years at the
retail store I manage, maybe I can offer a little insight, and perhaps even
a few tips on how to get the most value out of your unwanted stock.

We're all familiar with supply and demand, but this principle can be
stretched to the extreme when it comes to certain fish and plants commonly
raised by hobbyists.  For example, the amount of Rotala macranda I could
harvest monthly from just one of my display tanks probably exceeds the
amount I can sell in that month, even in our very large and busy store.
Even dropping the price won't increase demand in this case, since I'd bet
that no more than one in fifty of my customers has adequate lighting for
this species - and that one either already had it and doesn't want it again,
or keeps it successfully and wants me to buy his cuttings!  As I said
already, my own production already keeps up with demand, so how often do I
really "need" to buy it? - just about never.

Which brings me to my next point: timing can be worth a lot.  Several
posters have mentioned that their pruning schedule doesn't always line up
with club auctions or trading sessions.  Well, it's entirely possible, and
downright likely, that it doesn't line up with the dealer's needs, either.
If someone came knocking on your door selling vacuum cleaner bags, you might
buy a few - IF they were the kind you needed, and either the price or
quality was better than you could get at the local department store.  But if
somebody else came by the next day selling the same product, you'd be less
likely to buy again unless it was a real bargain.  And if enough salesmen
come by often enough, you might even start passing up the bargains; there's
a limit on just how many of any item you need at a given time.

Of course, the retailer's situation is a bit more ticklish.  Since the
seller in this case is also my customer, I can't simply tell him to come
back again another day - especially after the hobbyist has gone to all the
trouble of packing up and bringing in the specimens.  As such, I'm left with
two less-than-desirable alternatives: pay a "normal" wholesale rate and
warehouse the stock at my own expense until needed, or pay a discounted rate
that reflects the cost of storing and caring for the items until sold.
Paying in merchandise rather than cash can help this situation somewhat, as
several posters have noted, but at some point it gets hard to justify paying
anything at all on a slow-moving item that I already have in abundance.
Things I can't sell take up time, space and other forms of money I could be
spending on things I can sell.  

I'm not trying to defend any of the LFSs mentioned, and I'm aware that there
is sometimes an "attitude" problem with stores - just as there can be with
hobbysits - but I am trying to say that putting a value on these sorts of
trade-ins can be a tough call.  In addition to the above factors, there are
several things I've noticed that influence my decisions considerably:

1.  I am more likely to pay a higher price to people that I recognize as
regular customers (especially if they don't always come in with a bucket o'
something in their hands).  If you're planning to trade or sell your stock,
it might make sense to seek out whoever will pay you and make sure he sees
you making purchases.  And no, just telling me you're a "regular customer"
isn't the same.

2. I'm likely to pay more if I know ahead of time something's coming.  If I
know you're bringing in a dozen bunches of hornwort, I can skip ordering it
this week, making it more likely I'll "need" it when you get here.  

3.  I'm also likely to pay more if the product looks good on arrival.  I've
got one customer that regularly brings in about a dozen bunches of Ludwigia,
bundled much like the wholesalers do, only hers are a little larger, and a
lot healthier looking.  Another customer brings in a bucket full of assorted
cuttings, some mostly leggy stem, others pretty nice - but all tangled in a
huge mass that I have to sort through and bundle for sale.  It's hardly
surprising that I'm a bit more interested in the first customer's merchandise.

jim


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This page was last updated 29 October 1998