A lot of aquarists make their purchases online in an effort to save money. This I can agree upon however there is a downside to doing so.
Although the internet is a cheaper place to purchase from you never really get to build a rapport with the owner of the website/company.
The internet is a cold, yet useful place.
I will openly admit that I have made a lot of purchases over the years via the internet and will continue to do so, however I always ensure that I purchase some items from my local fish shop (food, additives, reactor media etc). There are three reasons for this:
1. I can continue to have my ‘friendship’ with the owner of my local fish shop.
2. I can play my part in assisting a local company in surviving in a ruthless market.
3. I have great chats with the owner!
For me these points are important. Over the years I have popped into my local fish shop nearly every week – sometimes to make purchases, othertimes just to look around and have a chat.
My local fish shop is not a large establishment and relies upon local business to survive. He is a fantastic chap and loves to have talk!. We have some fantastic discussions – primarliy over marine related items, however at times we have put the world to rights.
However – if I ever need him he will do everything he can to help me.
If I had a leak for example – he would come and help me, If something breaks he will loan me a spare item whilst I source a replacement (even if it is not from him!) and if I needed him to hold some of my livestock he would.
Now you can’t get that on the internet can you?
The internet is a fantastic place to purchase as their are so many options available to you. It is also a great source of information (as I hope this site is), however the internet cannot be relied upon when it comes to an urgent need.
This is the reason for this post. If you do not attempt to build a relationship with your local fish shop (if you have one that is) then if the need arises you may be stuck for help other than local aquarists.
Let me give you one example I have had.
A while ago when I was moving home Dave, the owner of my local fish shop allowed me to borrow lots and lots of large buckets to hold livestock, etc in whilst I moved. Not a big deal I hear you say but what he also did was fill each bucket with heated saltwater at no charge.
Without him moving the aquarium would have been a nightmare and he did not earn a penny from it although I did offer to rent the items and purchase the saltwater which he did not accept.
So what was in it for him?
Well a loyal customer for one and a friend for another.
With him doing so much for me (and he has helped me a lot over the years) he knows that I will come back to him in the future. Probably good marketing, customer service etc on his part but on my part it was a really nice touch and helped me a lot. Plus I know that in my hour of need he will be there to help me with any aquarium issue I am experiencing.
Over the years we have become more than shop owner/customer we have become great friends. I know his wife and his children. I have assisted him many time with his computers. He does not know a great deal about computers and I work in IT so I can help out where I can.
I guess that the morale of this post is that building a friendship with your local fish shop is more beneficial than purely saving a bit of money on the internet. As said I am a fan of the internet, however in our hours of need it sometimes cannot help us.