My own LFS

Jimold

Member
OK guys, I may be totally nuts about this, but I'm think seriously about what it would take to open my own LFS. FYI, I blew out my back 3 weeks ago, and I'm seriously wondering if I'll ever be 100% again, so it's time to start planning a contingency plan.
So here's the thing, I already have an associates in Accounting and Computers, so I have the basics of running a small business covered. At least I know what headaches are involved.
But where would you start? I don't want a run of the mill LFS, I want something that people will remember. You've all seen what I can do:



Now imagine 50-100 tanks looking like this! hehehe
What I know I want is this:
1) a place specializing in freshwater exotic eco-systems, perhaps even designing the store into world regions
2) to be a distributor for high end companies like Aqua Design Amano
3) to have a lobby of sorts for gatherings, classes, maybe even start a central florida aquarium assocation
4) th be a place that not only sells fish, but TEACHES people how to properly care for them
5) most importantly, to DESTROY the local compatition while flying under the radar of big corporations like Petco, etc...

OK guys, what do you think? Has anyone else here really ever thought of opening a place, or does anyone have a store already? I'm really serious about this, whatever imput you have let's hear it...lol.

Oh, one last thing, if by some bizarre chance this actually becomes a reality, Fishlore members automatically get a 10% discount off the top!
 

Narcicius

Member
Jim said:
Oh, one last thing, if by some bizarre chance this actually becomes a reality, Fishlore members automatically get a 10% discount off the top!
Sweet.
 

Narcicius

Member
I hoep you know that would take a substancial amount of money, and spending a lot of money and staying under the radar or chain stores isn't easy to do. I really hope it happens though, I think that would be awesome.
 

Shawnie

Member
alot have wanted to do this...most get pumped up by starting to find LOCAL fish breeders and check out their history..you are very talented and a blown back totally consumes your life unless you keep busy anyway possible...what do you have to loose by jumping (or slowly moving) into this new adventure?? you already have proven to yourself the talent you have...see above pride every time you look at your own tank!! I say start your home work and go for it!!!!!
 

capekate

Member
HI Jim
as always .. I never tire of looking at that gorgeous photo of your fish tank!
some thoughts on your idea:
I think its a great idea. But I'm going to play devils advocate on this business venture.
Firstly.. you have a back issue you are dealing with. I don't know the extent of your back problems but can say from experience, I have had to deal with a back problem for 14 yrs and after a failed back surgery, I'm still trying to deal with it. I cannot do any physical work without having many days in pain.Actually right now my back went out for the last few weeks and about all I can do is hang out on the pc. What you are thinking of undertaking is a lot of back breaking work. Can you do it?
Then we have the economy issue.Is this really a good time to go into business for yourself? Bank notes are going to be harder and harder to get and cost a lot more. Banks are trying to get back some of the money they have lost in loans and will be very cautious about lending money. How many fishstores are in your area? That will cause some problems with a loan. How much capitol do you have to begin this project?
With the economy the way it is, folks just are not spending a lot of money on those 'extra's'.
You sound like you have a lot of wonderful ideas of how your place would look in design.. and it sounds like the place would look fantastic, but not money making. You mention teaching folks about fish, not just selling them. Unless you plan on charging for the teaching lectures, your not making any money there. Just spending 'time'.
Specialty shops such as that may bring in folks to look around.. but
you want to make some money to pay back the fortune you would spend in creating this project.
Then you would have to pay for employees as well as the stock in which you will be trying to sell. I believe that a place such as this will only attract a small group of people with a lot of money to spend.
I do not know that much on Florida economy but what I do know is that a lot of folks there struggle for what they earn. Those people will continue to go the chain stores for their fish and products.
I think that in order to realistically make this happen you would have to start with a very small shop that is limited to possibly hard to find quality fish and supplies and plants and also tanks. Possibly holding a teaching lecture for beginners once a week at the shop and building a good reputation for yourself before launching into a larger shop.
I bet Dino would be a good one to talk to, as he has that experience on what it takes to supply a fish house and in regards to cost and time and effort.
With your business knowledge, I'm sure that I am not telling you anything that you don't already know, just thought I would throw out some ideas on what I thought..
I have also thought of starting a small business (non-fish related) and really feel that with the way the economy is right now, that its not the right time.
With that said.. I really like your ideas! And feel that it sure would be nice to have a place such as that to go to for one's fish needs. It gives a little bit 'more' than the typical shops.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
capekate,
You've brought up pretty much every thing I keep running thru my own head wondering if I can make this work.
First and most important, I don't know what's up with my back yet. They did an MRI Tues. and I should know the results in a few days.
As for the economy and Florida, this is a weird area. On the one hand you have the housing problem, but on the other there's still some major (BIG $$$) residential areas really close still being built. I also still live right on the Gulf Coast, and know of many gated communities with literally multi-million dollar homes no more than 5 minutes from here. One new area being built named Trinity is the closest, and this place is also looking sick rich. Getting just a couple dozen of these people really hooked could keep me out of the red...lol. And to my knowledge there's no LFS nearby, only a PetSmart a few miles up the road. Someplace like this might be ideal, especially if things turn around after the election (which they usually do).
As for size and type of store, I definitly want to be small, but highly specialized for high end aquariums. For example, theere is not one store that I know of in 4 counties: Pasco, Hillsboro, Pinnellas, and Hernando... and this includes Tampa, St. Pete and Spring Hill/Wikki-Watchi... that sells CO2 equipment for planted tanks. Most don't even know what you're talking about when you ask, and half don't even have plants! And believe me, I checked every store I could track down. NOT ONE!!! This is actually a big advantage, because this is the kind of thing I want available. I want this to be a store for fishheads like us!
Also, I had definitly thought of having lectures, classes, whatever on the weekends. I think it would not only be fun, but a great way to boost business.
I know it's a long shot, especially with the current economy. But at the same time, I know if I can get a backer, and obvously that's the hardest part, I can make it work. And as for the local compatition, I plan on eliminating them anyway. Believe it or now, 3 girls from 2 of the other local stores have already promised me that if it works out I can definitly steal them! hehehe. I'm already off to a good start!
 

Angela_96

Member
One thing I want to note on, my mother made a big risk in the past 2 months she opened up a resturant, the only reason she got to do so is because not that she got a loan from the bank but my grandmother put the money up for her (my grandparents were very lucky w/ rental property and stocks in the 80's and 90's)... anyways... its a tough time to be starting up a business...

If you do you might want to consider having other stuff like pond equipment w/ the gated communities in your area, tank maintence also for the rich people, and specialize in stuff like that. We have a lfs that does stuff like that and they are really thriving right now. They also make their own chemicals for fishtanks and their buisness has exploded in the past couple years, they have been around for a long time. They make their own filter systems also. I buy their chemicals, and they sell their chems w/ a 20 percent of discount on refills, that also saves plastic getting your bottle refilled.
This is a mom and pops store too belive it or not.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
steveangela1 said:
One thing I want to note on, my mother made a big risk in the past 2 months she opened up a resturant, the only reason she got to do so is because not that she got a loan from the bank but my grandmother put the money up for her (my grandparents were very lucky w/ rental property and stocks in the 80's and 90's)... anyways... its a tough time to be starting up a business...

If you do you might want to consider having other stuff like pond equipment w/ the gated communities in your area, tank maintence also for the rich people, and specialize in stuff like that. We have a lfs that does stuff like that and they are really thriving right now. They also make their own chemicals for fishtanks and their buisness has exploded in the past couple years, they have been around for a long time. They make their own filter systems also. I buy their chemicals, and they sell their chems w/ a 20 percent of discount on refills, that also saves plastic getting your bottle refilled.
This is a mom and pops store too belive it or not.
a resturant down here has about a 5% survival rate... I would never chance it.
But ponds and tank maintance are definitly good ideas. thanks.
 

Angela_96

Member
Oh I was just mentioning it, my husband and I have bets of how long the resturant will be in business... not that my mothers a bad cook or anything the local economy is really really bad
 

pinky93

Member
Hi, I think your idea is great!It's been my dream to open a fish store where I live(we don't have much).I know this is a wacky idea but would consider opening some in the Caribbean?
 

sirdarksol

Member
Dino and CWC will probably have some excellent advice.

I know that one thing is that you want to have enough money to pay the bills (not just on the shop, but on your house, electricity, etc...) for several months. Most businesses take somewhere around a year to begin running in the black (which you likely know, having taken accounting). If you can make it past that year point, your chances of success jump. Most people fail this simply because they can't afford to eat and have to sell their business to get a job again.
 

purple_phoenix

Member
Starting small and getting bigger would surely be a better option. It sounds like a great idea though, and I hope it all goes well for you. Teaching about fish would save customers money in the long run too (as they'd live longer, know how to treat disease, etc) so they'd be more likely to come back
There's one person I ask for in particular who works in my lfs because I know they keep tanks, and know a lot about them. If you could have a whole store like that, that would be amazing.

I wish I could cope with the tank maintenance on 50-100 of those tanks!! I'd turn my house into a public aquarium

I really do hope it all goes well for you. And, get better soon!!
 

Trpimp147

Member
may I suggest setting up an online store for now and starting out there, starting with this site and its people in buying and set up your basment up with bare bottem tanks and make a large central filter system. then once you pay that off with what your selling save a few grand and start a small business in a local town or your town. then you can continue to sell online and in a shop breeding fish wouldnt be bad thing just make sure your place is vary clean and well kept. if you need fish to start ill donate a few african cichlids (acei) I have around 40 of them to start you out with. I would need to wait till they are the right size to ship. good luck


and to start you off maybe fishlore members will donate fish and/or $1 to help you start!!! (it all adds up)
 

Peterpiper

Member
Sorry about your back,
Do the sums first, how much you need to live, how much the shop has in outgoings (bills). Remember that with suppliers, the more you buy the cheaper you get it. Start getting prices from suppliers and see what other LFS are selling that or similar products for. this will give you some idea of how much you would need to sell per month/week to meet you needs and outgoings.
And remember every LFS started the same way ( maybe not the large chains ). So why not you. Keep your customers happy and they will come back. Word of mouth can make or break a shop.
Hope your back gets better soon!
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
Trpimp147 said:
may I suggest setting up an online store for now and starting out there, starting with this site and its people in buying and set up your basment up with bare bottem tanks and make a large central filter system. then once you pay that off with what your selling save a few grand and start a small business in a local town or your town. then you can continue to sell online and in a shop breeding fish wouldnt be bad thing just make sure your place is vary clean and well kept. if you need fish to start ill donate a few african cichlids (acei) I have around 40 of them to start you out with. I would need to wait till they are the right size to ship. good luck


and to start you off maybe fishlore members will donate fish and/or $1 to help you start!!! (it all adds up)
that's really cool, thanks, but I couldn't take my fishhead buddies $$$. You have a great idea, but there's one fatal flaw. I live in Florida, the one state in the US where no-one has a basement. My house is literally 23" above sea level, and my garage is just too cramped and full right now.
 

angelfish220

Member
Why not start a tank matinance company, then extend into the shop area? You opviously know how to care for high end fwtanks, then you could start getting money from that, then start your shop.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
angelfish220 said:
Why not start a tank matinance company, then extend into the shop area? You opviously know how to care for high end fwtanks, then you could start getting money from that, then start your shop.
this is a real possibility.
 

Angela_96

Member
angelfish220 said:
Why not start a tank matinance company, then extend into the shop area? You opviously know how to care for high end fwtanks, then you could start getting money from that, then start your shop.
I have seriously thought of doing that in my area, there are a lot of doctors that I know working in the hospital, and my grandparents were "political" people so word of mouth in the area means a lot... would really get me going... It would really get some money going your way for you in FLA if you did that then did some private fish breeding maybe and sold fish on aquabid? And slowly built your supply up? However, I am going to start up some saltwater tanks in my house, learn the ins and outs of sw first.... this will be a couple years and when my youngest is in school... and hopefully the economy is better.
 

Allie

Member
We are opening a fish shop in the next few years. We have found a space too. We are having second hand gear section, but it's going to mainly fish. We are breeding our own fish to sell. We've been doing that already so why not put in a store form.
 

Angela_96

Member
Allie said:
We are opening a fish shop in the next few years. We have found a space too. We are having second hand gear section, but it's going to mainly fish. We are breeding our own fish to sell. We've been doing that already so why not put in a store form.
Obviously you have no problem breeding cichlids!!! yours breed like rabbits!!!
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
Allie said:
We are opening a fish shop in the next few years. We have found a space too. We are having second hand gear section, but it's going to mainly fish. We are breeding our own fish to sell. We've been doing that already so why not put in a store form.
Well, you're definitly far enough away that I don't have to worry about you being the compatition...lol! Seriously, I will be very interested in hearing how it goes when you get running.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
Oh, I forgot. I also have another thing I can do at the store, I can sell artwork. A friend of mine that knows my "alter-ego" asked me about it:

"Why don't you whip up some fish paintings and sell them?"

Ahhhhhhhhh, guys, I apologize for not telling you all about this before; sometimes I just take it for granted. But besides for being an obsessed fish-head, I'm an artist (more or less). I've been in sort of retirement for the decade (long story), but back before the millenium I built this web-site of some of my work, if you're interested. I had honestly forgotten it was even still around:



I hope all the links still work, I haven't played with this site literally in almost 10 years.
Anyway, the point is, if I dust off the air-brushes and such I can easily do up some really cool fish portraits and such in just a few months.
 

capekate

Member
WOW Jim... your much too modest. I just looked at every picture in your links and was quite impressed.. to say the least! Amazing work! I would think that you would have a great time doing different fish and adding them to the store.
Nothing like a gorgeous air brushed Betta! btw.. we do have the sell trade board here, and I'm betting some folks would love to have a Betta painting. Maybe you can even do an airbrushed painting of one of their own Bettas for them and make it personal? I say.. go for it!! what the heck right? ;D
 

Angela_96

Member
Um... don't worry about your back, you could make a fortune w/ your artwork! WOW!
 

Allie

Member
Jim said:
Well, you're definitly far enough away that I don't have to worry about you being the compatition...lol! Seriously, I will be very interested in hearing how it goes when you get running.
I can't wait until we can"officially" get things started. It's going to take a long time to get things set up before we can even start with the actual store part. I will be making a thread on it once we get the space. hoto: lots of pixs too.
 

Allie

Member
Jim said:
Oh, I forgot. I also have another thing I can do at the store, I can sell artwork. A friend of mine that knows my "alter-ego" asked me about it:

"Why don't you whip up some fish paintings and sell them?"

Ahhhhhhhhh, guys, I apologize for not telling you all about this before; sometimes I just take it for granted. But besides for being an obsessed fish-head, I'm an artist (more or less). I've been in sort of retirement for the decade (long story), but back before the millenium I built this web-site of some of my work, if you're interested. I had honestly forgotten it was even still around:



I hope all the links still work, I haven't played with this site literally in almost 10 years.
Anyway, the point is, if I dust off the air-brushes and such I can easily do up some really cool fish portraits and such in just a few months.
Nice stuff. I wish my graphic art work was like that.
 

Trpimp147

Member
I would donate a buck here and there and fish. heres how I see it. if I'm helping you do something you love and want to do, it gives me peace of mind that I'm helping some one in this work and if it can stimulate this country I gess I can do that too. no one has to give moeny but I'm sure every one donate at least 1 buck and if you give them a dis count better then other stores can that would make them all vary happy I'm sure so that 1 buck that helped you get started gave you business to countinue to go on with your dream of this fish store or pet store. even if no one gives a buck they may ship you some of there fry!! I have tons right now and my fish are just starting to breed. I'm sure there is tons of other people that would help you out. were all a family here!
 

ninilie

Member
Oh yeah donating fish would be a great idea. Would make everyone almost feel like they were apart of the store. Good idea. I would only have guppies to offer ). But I'm sure lots here have tons of very nice fish.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
ninilie said:
Oh yeah donating fish would be a great idea. Would make everyone almost feel like they were apart of the store. Good idea. I would only have guppies to offer ). But I'm sure lots here have tons of very nice fish.
You guys are the greatest! But I think we would have a problem getting guppies safely from San Diago to Tampa! hehehe
 

Narcicius

Member
I can't wait to see this happen
 

Angela_96

Member
If I have any luck w/ my african cichlids w/ the breeding I will spare some for you... right now my kenyI is holding for the first time....
I am going to try to find my yellow lab a girlie too... .
Not to mention my rubenens boys I am raising right now have 2 rubenens girls to hopefully pair up w/.
And, I have my zebras paired as well... I am working on pairing all of my cichlids
 

Allie

Member
steveangela1 said:
If I have any luck w/ my african cichlids w/ the breeding I will spare some for you... right now my kenyI is holding for the first time....
I am going to try to find my yellow lab a girlie too... .
Not to mention my rubenens boys I am raising right now have 2 rubenens girls to hopefully pair up w/.
And, I have my zebras paired as well... I am working on pairing all of my cichlids
You do know that Africans don't pair up and that they need at least 3 females each. Now they may pair up if they are raised together like my blue hap ahlI pair. We cannot find any full grown female blue haps to add to them. So once some other fry grows out we're hoping to get our hap ahlI colony.
 

Angela_96

Member
Allie said:
You do know that Africans don't pair up and that they need at least 3 females each. Now they may pair up if they are raised together like my blue hap ahlI pair. We cannot find any full grown female blue haps to add to them. So once some other fry grows out we're hoping to get our hap ahlI colony.
I know.. I need females period... I am going to get a bigger tank first... and figure out how to sex the other 3 we have we have a scofi, crabro, ice blue but we don't know if they are male or females? and only have 1 of each species...
 

Trpimp147

Member
good stuff see every one wants to help and such. I have a another fish that's holding just no male.... I tryed buyign a few 2 died and one is stillt o small to sex.... its sad.... I need to pair a few more up.
 

Dino

Member
A project like this takes a lot more effort and funds than most people imagine.
Sounds like you are doing good with the associates.
Money wise, make sure you have at least 6 months of cash on hand when starting, to pay your bills as you get established.

In our research for starting a store here, we have determined that starting with less than 100,000$ would pretty much cause the business to fail.
We are looking at setting up a 2500-3000 square foot store with operating principal very similar to what you are wanting to do.

To start we are looking at:

20,000$ to do the hardware, tanks, business equipment
20,000$ in supplies and livestock
10,000$ in advertising,

that leaves 50,000$ for salaries, operating expenses and unforseen emergencies.

At this point, we are looking to get started in just under 7 years.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jimold

Member
Dino said:
A project like this takes a lot more effort and funds than most people imagine.
Sounds like you are doing good with the associates.
Money wise, make sure you have at least 6 months of cash on hand when starting, to pay your bills as you get established.

In our research for starting a store here, we have determined that starting with less than 100,000$ would pretty much cause the business to fail.
We are looking at setting up a 2500-3000 square foot store with operating principal very similar to what you are wanting to do.

To start we are looking at:

20,000$ to do the hardware, tanks, business equipment
20,000$ in supplies and livestock
10,000$ in advertising,

that leaves 50,000$ for salaries, operating expenses and unforseen emergencies.

At this point, we are looking to get started in just under 7 years.
Quite honestly at this point, to make it as nice as I picture in my head, I figure realistically somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000, so we're on the same page.
 

Dino

Member
Excellent.
one factor that is helping us out is that CWC is going to be working in real estate, so we will have an inside scoop on finding a place to buy, not rent.

On the flip side of that, buying increases the start up cost by probably 100,000$.
 

Austin {Aquarist}

Member
kjfh

I would soo go to that lfs xD
 

Gamer

Member
In late but I live in Florida and although it'd still be quite a drive out your way, I'd definitely go there because I believe it would be the perfect LFS for me. I am convinced I want to start one of my own...although I admit, I have a lot to learn first but maybe years from now I'll know more and who know's I may have the money and knowledge to do sumfin. For now I am just absorbing as much knowledge as I can on this but I do fear that the way I am throwing money at this hobby, I may never end up saving enough to go into business so let's hope I'd present a good business plan to get a loan with collateral. Again, years from now. It's more of a dream then it is a goal at the time.
 

pinkfloydpuffer

Member
I'd also love to open my own fish store! It's one of the reasons I went into business in college, actually...
 

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