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Local Fish store thoughts

Hi again.

I mentioned in my last email that I used to work in a fish store about ten 
years ago.

Since I got back into fish keeping with the introduction of the plant tank 
I've had the opportunity to buy up months of back issues of fish magazines. 
A common theme running though these magazines has been about how useless 
some local fish stores are.

Back when I worked in the trade minimum wage was $6.85. A year after working 
in the store I received a raise to $7.25/hour. Perhaps the trade pays better 
now but back then the people working in a fish store were not getting rich.

In the store where I worked there was no official training program and very 
few resources to which to turn. There was a staff discount and staff members 
were allowed to read all the fish books and magazines they wanted. Luckily I 
worked at a store which had a good selection of books. Mainly stores today 
seem to have very little material. I remember reading The Optimal Aquarium 
as well as most of Thiel's works.

Back then I can remember talking with customers about their fish tanks and 
talking to sales reps about their products. Both were important ways to 
obtain more information. I also regularily visited competitors stores to see 
what they were doing. If they had a good idea then I would recommend it too. 
This also paid dividends when we were out of something and I could recommend 
a decent store for the product if it was going to be awhile.

The internet wasn't yet a major force like it is today. In fact the web 
wasn't even invented yet.

Nowadays I can go into many stores. When I go in the stores what I'm looking 
for is small item commodities, a feeding for my reading habit and perhaps 
some pleasant fish tank browsing with some small talk with the store 

What amazes me is how some stores haven't figured out the influence the 
internet has had on things. I purchased a LaMotte phosphate kit which was 5 
years old, never used, which sat on a store shelf for most of that time. 
When I asked if the reagents would still be good I was told that they had 
called LaMotte and were given a positive answer.

After two negative phosphate tests with some solid Algae growth in the water 
I find the reagent comment less reassuring so I emailed LaMotte. The answer 
was that reagents are good for about one to two years.

When I replace the reagents I'll know for sure.

Still there are many good sides to stores if you take the time to notice. In 
one local PetSmart there is a girl who have her own fish tanks who would 
like to spawn cories. I had that happen in one of my tanks once and I can 
understand how cool those fish are. Last month one of the magazines had an 
article on this exact topic. That store doesn't carry the magazine but after 
letting her borrow the magazine to read the article you can bet that it 
might make it on to a buyer's list.

Not all stores are bad once you take the time to give them some education. 
In many industries we expect the store to be educated. Unfortunately in ours 
we have to look for those individual's who have a genuine interest because 
they will be the ones who shine.

I've rambled a bit.

~Jamie N
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