A Behind The Scenes Look At Petsmart

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Fisker, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. FiskerValued MemberMember

    So, now that I'm getting established at my new job as a Petsmart Pet Care Associate, I was wondering if you guys would be interested in reading stories about what goes on at the store. As hobbyists, we miss a lot of what goes on (even in chain stores...) and I think it might be cool to share my experiences (whether they be successes, failures, or somewhere in-between) and maybe get some input from you guys on what you'd like me to improve at my particular location.

    If you guys are interested, I'll start posting at least a paragraph or two after each shift, detailing some of the things I did during that shift, and the answers I gave to some of the questions I received. I'm by no means an expert, especially when it comes to the reptilian and amphibian part of my job, but I'm doing my best to learn as quickly as I can. Here are some rules I'd like to follow in this thread:

    1) Be kind. Realize that while I do my best to ensure that all the animals I sell go into healthy homes, I'm not always able to do that. While I DO have the authority to cut off people from buying animals, if I begin to do that to every customer who comes in and doesn't have the perfect set-up, I'll be fired pretty quickly. So, while we might not all agree with the decisions I make, know that I'm at the very least trying my best to ensure that the animal will be healthy, and if I can't ensure that, I'll do my best to stop the sale of the animal to that person.

    2) If someone asks a question that I refuse to answer, don't push it. I didn't sign anything that says I can't talk about the details of my job, but if I feel like saying something could put my job at risk, I won't put that out here. I can't imagine something like that ever coming up, but I want to make that clear now rather than later.

    3) Keep suggestions realistic. Realize that just because I'm working 8 hours in a shift doesn't mean I can devote all 8 hours to maintenance on one tank - I'm helping people, cleaning tanks, removing bodies, bagging fish, picking out products for people, water changing bettas, feeding animals, etc... I'm eager to hear some suggestions, but try and tame your expectations to something that I can achieve.

    I guess I'll go ahead and demo what I'm imagining this thread to be. Here's what I did today at work:

    When I first got to work, three employees were grouped around the Leopard Gecko exhibit. When I went to check what was going on, it turns out that two of the geckos had crawled up inside negative space in the ornament, and had been holed up in there for a while. They were NOT coming out easily, either. It took us most of the day to get them out - we eventually had to flush them out with water. I water changed almost all of the bettas - I didn't finish the last 10 or 12 due to time constraints, sadly. The ones that I got to got 100% water changes, and I hope to be able to get through all of them every day that I work. I sold two oscars to a woman that was picking up the fish for a family member. I really didn't want to make the sale, but made it clear that if she needed to return them for any reason, she had 14 days to do so. I truly hope they go to good homes, and that if they don't receive that, she'll bring them back soon. A guy came in with a dead Kenyi Cichlid and got $10 of credit. He picked out another Kenyi and a Johanni cichlid - from the sounds of it, he's got a 75 gallon tank packed with Africans. I was told by a manager after he left that he brings dead fish back pretty often within the 14 day guarantee. Hopefully that won't be the case with these guys. An older couple came in wanting 4 angelfish, 3 black mollies, and 5 neon tetras for their 55 gallon. I talked them down to 2 angels (hopefully a male and female - I did my best to sex them), 3 male mollies, and 6 neons. I think that'll suit their tank better, as they've had trouble keeping angels alive in the past - probably due to having too many of them reaching sexual maturity at once. A family of four came in wanting to buy a 1 gallon kit (filter+tank) and a common goldfish for the youngest son. I managed to talk her into a 2.5 gallon glass tank, an internal filter, and a fancy guppy. Not perfect, I know, but I think her chances of success are much higher. She picked up a bottle of Quick Start, a couple live plants, and seemed confident. I directed her towards Fishlore, and hope she shows up on here.

    Not everyday will be such a long day, and sometimes it might be as simple as "I did a water change on all the bettas. Watched instructional videos. Had Subway for lunch. Tuna sub - yum."

    Are you guys interested in reading more of this?
  2. Crimson_687Well Known MemberMember

  3. AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    Ya know at the start of this I thought "oh geez another one trying to promote petstores." But! absolutely, it isn't every day you get someone who is even semi competent with fish to work at a chain store. It is the same as when I kept parrots. Chain stores keep various conures, amazons, cockatiels, and yet they know nothing about the care. Every now and again you'll go in and see a worker who let them out of the cage and has them on their shoulder, trying to train them and socialize. I give you credit for trying to educate a very uneducated populous. Hey, if you change one fish owners mind from getting 3 oscars in a 20 gallon tank I think you did your job. Fish aren't people but we might as well give them a fighting chance.
    Idea-I know you work in retail with cameras, managers, and coworkers....but this would be an extremely interesting youtube channel.
  4. Crimson_687Well Known MemberMember

    I think it’s important for people to get a true perspective of a chain pet store. It’s a place where many beginners go, and as hobbyists we will often give advice to fellow keepers, and regardless of where you get your fish or how much of a newbie you are or how much research you’ve done, if you own fish you are in the aquarium hobby. Learning about common situations allows us to understand how to give advice for it
  5. AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    For the price I'd even consider going back to a chain to get my next oscars. 12 bucks for a baby oscar vs 38 for a 4 inch one at a lfs? jeez...
  6. FiskerValued MemberMember

    I appreciate it, from both of you!

    As far as the YouTube channel idea, I'm not 100% comfortable in front of a camera, if I'm being honest. I've thought about it before, and will continue to consider it... for now, I'll stick to text. Don't rule it out in the future, though.
  7. Crimson_687Well Known MemberMember

    I myself get my fish from a chain store (pet supermarket) and I would love to have a local fish store to get fish from, but unfortunately the closest non-chain fish store is over 20 minutes away, with a couple others being over half an hour away and it’s right off the highway so a lot of traffic and not an area we frequent. And it’s not exactly like they breed their own fish. They too have a supplier, and after calling them a few times and visiting, I’ve found that the fish department employees at my local pet supermarket are more knowledgeable then the employees at the aquarium store. When people judge a chain store, they have to understand that not all locations are the same. Some locations do actually care for their animals and are very knowledgeable. My local Petco which I get supplies from occasionally even has an adoption system for unwanted angelfish
  8. jjohnwmWell Known MemberMember

    Interesting idea for a thread, and I'm sure you are earnest and sincere...but for the sake of your brand new job (which I assume you want to keep!), I think you should run this idea past your supervisor before putting it into effect. If he/she is okay with the plan, then run with it. If he/she says don't do it...well...don't do it.
  9. AsomeoneValued MemberMember

    hey man theres always those indiscreet body cams. But i understand, I wouldn't wanna risk it either. I also wouldn't worry about a supervisor as a previous poster said. It'll bring anxety to your life while youre trying to do a good thing. There is little proof as to who you are. As far as legal proof goes theres next to nothing. As a member of the military we have very strict rules regarding posting things online...yet...every messup somehow winds up on "us army moments"
  10. FiskerValued MemberMember

    I'm truly not very worried about this putting my job into jeopardy - but I will run it by my manager, to be sure.
  11. NC122606Well Known MemberMember

    You always seem to have interesting stories!
  12. Thedudeiam94Well Known MemberMember

  13. SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    @Fisker really appreciate the info.
  14. LucyModeratorModerator Member

  15. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Great Idea. I will be following this thread.
  16. LDanValued MemberMember

    Interesting thread! Following for sure
  17. spicegirls5everValued MemberMember

    Cool thread, I've always wondered about what ya'll do with new fish shipments. I get my fish exclusively from Petco and petsmart bc there are no smaller stores around. I often hear about the necessity of quarantining new fish due to diseases in these large stores, and I do quarantine, but I havent seen anything with ich or other common diseases come into my tanks and havent had issues with diseases.
    My question is, do you all medicate the fish heavily or go through any other steps to quarantine?
    Perhaps I've just been very lucky
    Thanks for this thread, definitely goi ng to follow it
  18. 86 ssinitWell Known MemberMember

    Good thread thanks for your insite.
  19. SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    i've bought 4 different batches of feeder goldfish and 1 blue oranda goldfish at different times from 4 different Petsmarts in my area, no problems, except for a few deaths, but they all looked and acted healthy, and post mortem inspection didn't show anything abnormal, probably transport stress.
  20. FiskerValued MemberMember

    Thanks for all the kind words! I'll answer a few questions, and then move onto today's activities.

    We do absolutely no QT - when the fish come in (Wednesdays, at my particular store), they're floated for 30 minutes, poured into a net, and released into display tanks. We do dose ALL of the aquariums with some meds, but they're all invert-safe. I'm not sure of the particular cocktail that we use, but I might be able to find out when we get the next shipment in.

    When I remove dead fish from tanks at work, or have bought them in the past from Petsmarts, I don't usually find that diseases are a huge problem. I think that most deaths are from poor conditions at the farm, a somewhat stressful environment in the store, and all the stress caused by transportation.

    Today was Saturday, which means that the store was pretty busy. Lots of people browsing, asking for help, and asking questions. Because of that, I only got to water change a few bettas today. I got through all of the ones that I didn't get to yesterday, so all of them have been waterchanged in the past day or so. When I was digging pretty far back into the betta cups, I found several that had probably been dead for a week or two - some were just soup in the cups. When my manager saw that, we had a talk, and she basically put me in charge of ensuring that the bettas are getting fed the right amounts and are getting adequate water changes. I'll be feeding them myself, and ensuring that they all get water changes every other day. I plan to probably feed 1-2 small pellets a day for 5 days a week, and to fast them for the other 2 days. We scrubbed down a lot of the tanks - why in the WORLD did Petsmart decide to use blue backgrounds and side for their tanks? Sure, it looks cheery, but every splotch of diatoms that grow stick out like a sore thumb. We had a gerbil fall pretty ill today - I'm not too proud of it, either. There were 3-4 of us in Pet Care all day, and we all failed to notice the ailing gerbil till a customer pointed him out. He probably won't make it through the night. We force-fed him some water and food, and put him into a sick room. In the future, I'll try to be more attentive to that area of the store, as I admit that I never thought about checking that area other than for food and water all day. I really didn't sell a ton of problematic fish today - I steered a couple people away from buying oscars and cichlids for their tanks, and helped a few set up what I think will be successful tanks. One woman came in and wanted to know why her "waterfall filter" was so loud. Basically, she had been running an Aqueon HOB on her 10 gallon with the water level REALLY low. I told her to just fill it up to dampen the trickling noise, but she didn't seem to believe me and wanted a solution right then and there. She ended up buying a Top Fin Internal filter, and I talked her into buying an aquarium siphon to use as well, as it doesn't seem like she's been doing water changes... at all. A family came in and asked to see a Red Eared Slider, and my associate unlocked the enclosure and got one out for them. As she was handing the child the turtle to hold, he lashed out and bit her hand. He didn't break the skin, but it'll definitely bruise. They didn't buy the turtle. Oh, I also had a Tortoise poop on me. That was fun.