Let’s face it, there’s been a huge shift in the dynamics of the marine aquarium hobby and industry over the last ten years. For the most part the aquarist as a consumer has gotten increasingly closer to the source of the products and the livestock we seek. If you don’t believe it then just consider that lately a few wholesalers have put up wysiwygs for you the reef aquarist to tell your LFS what you want them to bring in and order.
This is just one of the many ways that the LFS‘s place in the marine aquarium world has dramatically shifted, but if you want to know what it’s like for the people who operate your local fish store, you must watch this video of Jim Walters’ MACNA presentation this year. The talk is aptly entitled “rants & raves” but it doesn’t get that dramatic.
Jim does harp on some of the less salient points of being an LFS owner in the twenty-teens but he was really holding back. There’s some really unsavory bits of business-dealings that are happening between the LFS and their suppliers, between the mail-order reefers and the LFS, and many different aspects of the online marine aquarium community that is creating a rift between the pillars of the marine aquarium world and the rest of us.
In general we all want to get things that are brighter, cheaper, more better-er, but some aspects of the new dynamic are totally unreasonable. There’s a ton of great LFS around the country, and around the world, and despite all the ones who are simply going through the motions of being an LFS, there are also a ton like Jim’s Old Town Aquarium that constantly go above and beyond to serve their customers.
Whether you’re a wholesaler, manufacturer, fellow LFS owner or simply an LFS-goer, you really should give this talk a watch or a listen to better understand what governs some of the operations of the American LFS. We as a hobby need to be more cohesive at every level of the marine aquarium industry, we’re going to need all the help we can get to keep our hobby in the face of mounting threats, and every link of the hobby and business chain needs to be part of the community, especially the Local Fish Store.
Huge thanks to BulkReefSupply for recording and uploading this talk and especially to Jim Walters for having the courage to say what many people are thinking, we hope there’s at least one industry-focused talks at MACNAs from here on out.