Our LFSs

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Our LFSs

Postby Cow086 on Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:16 pm

Our LFSs dont get enough praise on our website. I went to 3 stores today looking for DTs Phoytoplanton i wont mention any names of the other stores. But one did not have it at all and the other had a huge bottle that was about to expire. I am not trying to dog any of the three stores i went to today but im just telling the story. All three stores i went to complained about MARS members in general and specific names as well (which i will keep nameless). What are we doing as a group to these LFSs which we rely on for much of our quick needs that you doing want to order online and pay the shipping for. I understand all there grips about us but there has to be something as a group that we can do to change their perception of us as a group. I enjoy talking with all the LFS workers when i go to the LFS but as soon as i mention that im part of MARS the conversation suddenly changes.

So of the grips ive heard today were...

We want everything for cheaper than we can get it on this site... yes i can sell Xenia for $5 but they cant cause first off i sell it to them for $5. If they are selling Xenia for $10 its hardly worth their time to keep it in stock in the first place and they are only making the same $5 i am and they have a ton more overhead costs.

We want more for our trade ins cause we are a MARS member and we "know what we are doing" "Or i bought it and grew it up" Sentimental value means nothing to them. Or its going to be healthier cause its in my tank. Odds are they probably can get one just as nice for less form their suppliers so take what they offer cause after all they are running a business.

(this one i got at all three places)

"There is a lot of bad mouthing on this site about us" Recently i dont know if that is so true but in resent past i can believe it. "and then you turn around and ask for free stuff for your BBQ and Frag swap" What do we expect we can just trash talk them and then expect them to turn the other cheek and give us all kinds of free stuff. Yes i like getting the free stuff form our LFSs for the frag swap and BBQ raffles lets continue to coexist with them and do less trash talking and maybe they will be more willing to give us something.

As far as for individuals that where mentioned by the LFSs they complained mostly about all the trash talk you have been doing or how you used to be a good customer of thiers and now your more of a competitor of them and "ripping" people off. I dont know how we can change the competitor problem cause i like to sell stuff and buy stuff on this website infact thats one of the only reasons im on this site. But we need to do less trash talking and maybe stop in to the local places you used to frequent just to let them know your still alive.

Also they all said that they dont get that many MARS members in. I find this very hard to believe considering how many of us are out there. Is this true i hope not but i guess it could be. Or are we just not mentioning that we are MARS members. If we ever want to have a good relationship with these LFSs and maybe have a standing discount with them we need to let them know we are spending money in their stores. Now i have gotten a "MARS Discount" at all three stores i went to in the past but i dont think its anything thats set in stone as a true discount program. Maybe it is but a lot of times the do say oh we dont give a discount for that. If every one mentioned that we are a MARS member when we go to the LFS they might be more inclined to give us a discount in the future every time we go.

Just my 2 cents but we need to be nicer to our LFSs on this website

Paul
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby BraenDead on Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:31 pm

Excellent post, Paul! I agree 100%, but haven't really said anything as I don't want to send the wrong impression (I don't want them to think I am "ordering" them not to say things, just urging them not too - free speech is still allowed on here). I think all of the fish stores do a great job and I am very happy that they all exist. I also think it is nice to introduce yourself to the workers at the LFS, try to be nice to them, and mentioning MARS is always a good thing (might be safer to call it Madison Area Reef Society so they don't think you are crazy, not everyone knows what MARS is).

Bob
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby DaveCF on Fri Jan 04, 2008 6:16 pm

//
Last edited by DaveCF on Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby Sula on Fri Jan 04, 2008 7:40 pm

I really have to agree that we are entirely too hard on our LFS's. The whole world wants something for nothing, and reefkeepers are no different. It is unfair to compare our prices to each other to an LFS's prices, obviously the overhead is completely different. I think each of us needs to make our spending decisions based upon what our available options are. If I know a source for xenia at $5, then that is my advantage, it doesn't make the LFS "evil" for offering it at $30. They are in business to cater to all aquarists, not just the people on this site. If they can sell it for $30, good for them, they helped pay for some of their overhead and probably have a happy customer.
We also should not be approaching them with this attitude of entitlement that I sometimes think we present: "I'm a member of MARS, so I should get a discount". You know what? I have purchased at a discount at every one of the stores listed above. Not because I am a member of this or any group, but because I am a familiar face who buys often. I will politely ask whether there is any wiggle room on the price and will understand if the answer is no. I don't ask every time, but if one is offered I will usually buy. Some of these people know me by name, and will greet me with "How is that bubble doing for you?" or "I got some new corals over here you might like". I go to these stores because they commonly bring in corals of a greater variety than I can get from other aquarists, plus I can buy larger pieces. I also use these stores as my source for feeder fish, mysis, and other frozen food, so at least my visit is resulting in a sale for them of some kind.
I personally value having retailers who offer saltwater fish and corals, where I can go browse around without an appointment or obligation. Maybe instead of asking them for freebies we should be asking their permission to use their logo on a directions sheet we can provide to any out-of-towners who come to our swap, there has already been interest posted by the Fox Valley group in coming down for the swap and visiting a few stores.
Just my .02.....
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby DaveCF on Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:33 pm

=D>
Last edited by DaveCF on Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby Cow086 on Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:06 pm

=D>
Last edited by Cow086 on Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby Sula on Sat Jan 05, 2008 9:23 am

Well, I don't think Dave's post needed deleting at all. He was stating his opinion that the relationship with the LFS's needs to be a 2-way street. Dave, I agree and I would bet the LFS folks would say the same thing. I would guess that what they are feeling right now is that it has all been one way up to this stage on THEIR part. They have donated to 3 frag swaps and 3 BBQs and feel that all they get from us the rest of the year is criticism of their business practices.

So the question is, what can we do? It is not realistic to mandate that we all only spend our money at a local store. But maybe we need to be more open about when we do spend money there. This might be where that "business card" idea comes in handy.... do we remind the LFS employees that we are members of MARS whenever we are in the store, not to get a discount, but just to keep our group top of mind? Do we make a point of posting pictures of our new livestock every time we make a purchase, and give credit to the LFS we got it from? That actually would be fun for everyone - we all love to see pictures of fish and corals, right? And then we could tell the LFS the next time we are in that we put up pictures of the purchase on the MARS site, encourage them to stop by and maybe they will see some compliments instead of criticism....
Just ideas here....
When on a journey, it is good to have an end, but in the end it's the journey that counts.
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby Gawain on Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:46 pm

Thanks for posting this thread, Paul. As a *former* LFS employee, it's nice to finally see a thread like this. I always found it disheartening to read a lot of the negative comments on here when I worked at Specialties, but I tried to keep my mouth shut. Now that I don't have a LFS affiliation, I don't feel the need to be quiet anymore. ;)

I do want to respond to Paul's comments about how he couldn't believe MARS members weren't a large customer base for the LFSs. In my experience at Specialties, most of our customers were not MARS members. I often asked our SW customers customers if they were MARS members because I was curious to know how many people who shopped at the store were MARS members. Also, it gave me the opportunity to pimp out the club and a few other forums I felt that are good. Nine times out of ten, the customer had no idea about MARS, and honestly didn't show much interest. You'd be surprised at the number of hobbyists who've never heard of Reef Central. I think one thing we need to bear in mind is that a lot of hobbyists are just casual hobbyists, and not the hardcore reef geeks like those of us who frequent the forums, etc. I will admit, it did get difficult to recommend the MARS site to customers when there was a lot of LFS bashing going on. I felt conflicted as a hobbyist who wanted to share information, but at the same time, I didn't want to recommend a site where certain members consistently bashed where I worked.

Also, during my tenure at the LFS, there was never an official discount for MARS members on the books. We were always instructed to give breaks to our loyal customers, regardless of club status. Of course, many loyal customers were also MARS members, so discounts were given when possible. But as I mentioned, most of our customers weren't MARS members, so we always gave breaks to the folks we recognized.

Anways, that's just my two cents from my perspective. The problem with club-LFS relations isn't particular to this club. If you read many of the other message boards, this is a reoccurring problem. However, this thread is a good first step in trying to re-establish a good relationship with the LFSs and change each group's perceptions of the other.
Les
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby meisen on Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:42 pm

Gawain I didnt share your experience that few to no MARS members shopped AS....IME there I had at least two dozen members I counted as regulars (out of maybe twice that many regulars including freshwater folks....pretty good representation IMO). Perhaps things shifted there when the stores management changed, I dont know. I still think that there would be more now (with the club being so much larger now) if AS were still around.

Besides Lee will tell you that I was Aquatic Specialties best customer for most of the time I worked there....I dont know if I ever got a respectable paycheck once my purchases had been taken out :mrgreen:

But your sentiments are valid. We should certainly remember to support our LFS especially when they support us all the time. For me I would much rather buy a fish locally than via online places anyway. By the time you work out the shipping, its usually a wash and I figure my ability to pick a healthy animal is at least as good as the guy packing fish at the online place.
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby tim on Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:36 pm

I agree our LFS do not get enough positve support from us. I will go as far as local small business do not get enough support. Sometimes with the small shops you will pay more, but when was the last time that an online vendor knew you by name?

I have always got great service, support and prices from all of our LFS. That is why I am a returning customer. There are certain store that I got for this and others for that. There are stores that I only go to because of one of the employees, and the realtionship(s) I have built with them make me come back. And this is why I buy at certain stores, otherwise I would not set foot in there for this reason or that.

But being this is a two way road, the stores need to remember that we are customers. That we need a few things to make our shoping experience a happy one. I think the biggest one for me is to have the prices marked on the tank. Not I will have to ask or call someone for it. This really gets to me. I also think this would help them build a postive reputaion as being fair. Instead of every customer that walks in the door gets a different price based on what? I have seen this many times and it gets to me.

Also when it comes to supporting them vs. the online guy. There prices need to be somewhat close. No matter where you get your fish/corals/dry goods from everyone has overhead, shipping, etc. So I do not understand how a LFS can justify charging 2-3 for said product when we can go online and save a lot of money. I understand that LFS do not have the buying power of Marine Depot or Dr Forster & Smith, so with that buying power they will be cheaper. But are we being charger a fair amount? And this may be the real reason that M.A.R.S is not represented in great numbers at LFS because we are the hardcore reefers and are aware of these places. The casual reefers that buy 1-2 times a year may not be aware or dont care to shop around.

As far as pricing goes I will gladly pay a little more, and wait a little longer if I can to buy from a LFS. Because I like to support all local small business, but at the same time I am a reefer ona budget just like the 95+% that have budgets. There are few of us that dont. So saving on every purchase means we can buy more, upgrade equipment, get into more exotic fish corals, etc. But the bottom line is just because we are saving or would like to save more on purchase from LFS in most case's I would like to think that would turn into more sales for the LFS. Just my .02
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby bobbet43 on Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:10 pm

i shop at all local lfs's. some have better prices than others but it all depends on what you are looking for. if i am looking for something special and find it online then i will see if a lfs will match the price, plus their shipping of course, sometimes they do and sometimes they beat it but not always. if i can get online prices plus reasonable shipping locally then i will. i have spent the last 5 years building a relationship with them all and it pays off, i probably spend 75% locally and 25% online
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby meisen on Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:23 pm

You make some excellent points Bob. Clearly marked prices are very nice. I went nuts to try and keep stuff marked at AS when I was there for the very reasons you cite. Even when Whit and I would go through and remark stuff constantly it was still happending on a regular basis. Whit was the nice one....he once marked all our fresh acro colonies that I think we paid 27.00 each plus ~3.00 shipping on for 45.00 ea....great way to go out of business :lol: . It isnt easy to keep everything priced all the time but efforts should be made so everyone has a fair deal. IMHO is somewhere between 2 and 2.5X markup for landed livestock on most stuff depending on a few factors, loss leaders not included.
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby ssbn627 on Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:41 pm

I would like to voice my support for LFSs. I right now will only deal with a product that I can see. I do not have the luxury to buy online right now, and the trust of an online store. I was also referred to be a MARS member from Gawain when he worked at Specialties. So I guess you could say that a LFS brought in a new MARS member. I am a very cautious buyer. I will spend a month or more researching a product before I buy. I guess that is why my tank (8 gal Oceanic Biocube) has been up since Jan 2007, and 1 casualty. I killed a fish when I did my weekly 1-2 gal water change. I do not have much of a saltwater tank, but I have a lot of love in it, and I have had a Scooter Bleeny in it since July, a purple mushroom that has doubled in size, a brown mushroom that has two mouths now, and my most recent purchase a Trumpet coral my first LPS, also some orange and green Zoos. All of which, are existing in a very small reef tank. I hope to upgrade to a larger tank for I do not want to put anything more in my present tank right now. I love the challenges of making a small tank work. I feel that slow purchases have helped me out. Yes all of my purchases have been from LFS in Janesville and Madison. =D> =D> =D>
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby CUNAReefer on Fri Jan 11, 2008 11:20 pm

You are taking the right approach. Until you have a trusted source for aquaculured coral, I would search the vendor reviews. Liveaquaria.com is always a safe choice.
Dont hate the player, hate the game...
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Re: Our LFSs

Postby ssbn627 on Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:10 am

Yes I am liking what I hear from Liveaquaria, I am also looking at QualityMarinelife, and vividaquaria. These are the 3 that I might do orders from. I want to get two more tanks before I do. I need a larger display tank and a smaller quarantine tank. where I will leave the stuff ordered from these places in for around a month or so. That is what my current plan is right now. This leads me to one question I have not asked yet. If I move up to SPS, does the quarantine tank as I suspect need MH lighting. That is why I am looking at the 8 or 14 Gal MH Biocubes on nanocustoms. As I stated I have been looking and planning things now for a couple of months.
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