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Develop your LFS
I have to agree with Roger 100% on this one.
My local LFS, Uncle Ned's was started by a couple of guys who's major
expertise was in Rift Lake cichlids. Needless to say, they didn't have
much experience in or knowledge of plants. What they DID have was a desire
to find a solid market niche. When the local hobbyists started asking for
different plants, they called me up, and we went over their supplier's
list. I told them what was interesting, what was easy and what was
non-aquatic :-( They are STILL as far as I know, the only store in N.E.
that regularly stocks SAE's, and they did it because we asked, and they
cared enough to track them down.
They don't always have a HUGE selection of plants, but they get really
neat, large orders of unusual stuff in several times a year, and there is
almost always tank grown stuff from various hobbyist in the store. They
maintain a couple of planted display tanks, and know how to set them up, so
they can give solid advice to newbie planted tank people when they come
into the store. They've actually gone into a couple of people's homes and
set up planted tanks for them.
Another way they are encouraging the hobby is by giveing discounts to local
schools who want to maintain fish tanks in classrooms. They actually
donated a whole set up to one school, and maintain a tank in another school.
If you want tons of brands of equipment to choose from, Ned's is not the
store for you. But the equipment they do carry is stuff they use
themselves, and have faith in. They will order you anything you want.
(they ordered the MH's for my 125G for me)
Grousing about what your LFS doesn't carry won't make it any better.
Making friends with them, and asking them nicely and supporting them with
your business will be what makes the difference between whether your area
is supported by a good, plant oriented LFS or not.
BTW, for those of you who are having a feeling of deja vu, it's not
surprising. Substitute "local plant club" for "LFS" and you've got
basically the same conversation, the same complaints and funnily enough,
the same answers. It all comes down to US, and what WE want to put into
promoting and supporting the hobby in our local area. Don't expect someone
else to do it for you.
I don't think a few hobbyists with small mail-order businesses, who are
looking to supply hard to find items are going to do the LFS, any harm.
But while you BUY from the guy on the internet who has what you need NOW,
at the same time, keep working on your LFS, tell them what you are doing,
and that you'd RATHER just come in and pick it up from them. Oh, and you
might want to give them the names and E-mail addresses of some of your
favorite internet suppliers. Uncle Ned's is now carrying some supplies
from Dave G, and driftwood from Aquarium Driftwood.