World Wide Corals has long been one of our favorite livestock providers and whenever we get the opportunity to visit the store in Florida, we make sure to take advantage of it. We were able to sit down with WWC chief operating officer Lou Shiavo and co-founder Victor Fornari to learn a bit more about them and how they brought the successful Reefapalooza brand to Florida.
How long have you guys have been involved in the reef aquarium hobby, as reefers, and as store owners at WWC?
As Reefers and reef from the beginning-Victor 1998-present 16 years/Lou 2005-present 10 years. As store owners World Wide Corals the retail store opened July 15, 2007, so 8 years.
Describe your experiences going to reef shows around the country? Which one is your favorite?
Going to a reef show we find ourselves experiencing full hobby immersion for the 2 to 3 days that we are present and participating. Gives us a chance to “Geek Out” and enjoy the hobby that we love to the fullest. We agree that both of our favorite is the original Reefapaloza in Southern California. We have been attending since 2008 annually and have lots of other reef buddies & extended reef family that we get to hang out with and share ideas with. Plus, how can you match the electricity of the 5000 attendees that pass through the doors that weekend?
How did you get the idea to “franchise” Reefapalooza? Why not start a new show?
Victor started to discuss with Greg Carroll way back in 2008-2009 about expanding the show to Florida. It took a few years of hammering things out but finally we all agreed the best way to grow the show is to expand to different regions.
We always had had a ton of respect for the Southern California Marine Aquarium Society (SCMAS) and what Marc Trimle & Greg Carroll have done with the event. We wanted to try to build on an established name and a professional reef show. After examining the nationwide annual Reef Show schedule we felt like there was little or no more room for a small event/frag swap.
How do you feel about the first two reefapaloozas that you’ve held in Orlando?
Super happy with the success of the first two Orlando Events. The impact of Reefapalooza from Miami to Jacksonville can be seen and felt. New stores popping up all over Florida, old stores stepping up their game and improving their showrooms, livestock and practices. More educated hobbyist/reefers and just an overall sense of a stronger reefing community throughout Florida.
What made you decide to do another RAP, this time in NY?
The cross country reefing triangle had to be completed by adding a professional annual show in the North East part of the country. With a large number of hobbyist and hobby clubs we felt like an event like this has been long overdue since the closet thing was MACNA 2009 in Atlantic City, two hours away from Manhattan.
What can show-goers expect from the first real big reef show to set up in the Northeast U. S.?
Tremendous things should be expected, educational seminars, the best of the best in livestock, new products showcase. Just hanging out with other reef buddies and friends sharing ideas in the greatest city in the world NYC
Anything else you’d like to add about your vision for RAP in the future?
Get more people into the hobby. To grow the show organically in small steps year after year. We want to keep it affordable for attendees and exhibitors. Keeping high standards and catering to the needs of our exhibitors and attendees.
[Image Credit: JIM CARCHIDI, Orlando Business Journal]