LFS's role in our Hobby???

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by Kanga, 18 Dec 2007.

  1. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Another thing I have been giving some thought to is where does the LFS fit in currently and where will they fit in, in the future of Marine and reefkeeping?

    Before I even start I just want to make it clear that I do not know the answers to my questions, nor am I biased to LFS or Internet shops or any other form of enterprise selling or promotion items we might need.

    But here goes.

    I know we all ( myself included) complain about the poor advice from most (not all) LFS's, however if it wasnt for our LFS in PE i would not have a reef today.
    The reason is simple, I had FW fish and walked and went CAW!!!!!!!!!!!! look at that I want one like that, and ordered a Reef Tank.

    Now I can get most things cheaper on MASA than from the LFS from good suppliers, but the LFS got me into the hobby to start, however the internets forums and many of the people on MASA today led me in the right direction.

    So for me I would not be where I am where I am today if it wasnt for the LFS, nor if it wasnt for the internet. Who gets the credit, and who fits in where.

    Also We have Great sponsors on MASA who make a living from Marine and FW fishkeeping and I have great respect for each and every one of them.
    However no normal person running an LFS will send a person to MASA for advice because we have more to offer, advice, equipment, price etc etc

    I think ultimately guys selling the odd skimmer and pump from his spare bedroom or outhouse and pockets 5 k over his normal desk job salary is bad for the bigger sponsors and also for the LFS.

    Million dollar question, how do we get the LFS to promote a site like MASA?

    So what is the general feeling and what good has the LFS to offer us and what bad as well?
     
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  3. Mike

    Mike Retired Moderator

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    It may be different in the UK but the decent lfs actively embrace the bigger forums, offering unbiased advice on tank welfare rather than on product placement, but you still see their name, so you use that shop, the forum i use in the UK had over 2500 active members, there are 10-15 sponsors all over the country and plenty of support from the members of the forum.
    There are, no doubt, quite a few lfs with rotten advice and i have seen a few, i vote with my feet and don't use them, but i am not niaive, i understand that without our support we will have no lfs and will only be able to buy online, how do you order fish and large coral species through the internet, you could be spending loads on something you have never actually seen up close.
    I love nothing better than a "meet" with other like minded fools at the local lfs, staring into tanks and at equipment talking for hours over the smallest detail, the shop are happy for us to be there, they know we spend our hard earned and promote the shop via the forum and quite often give out discount to regular callers.

    In short, my point = look after the good ones you DO need the shops, not everything can be bought with the click of a mouse, without decent lfs i think our hobby could be in trouble.
     
  4. Kanga

    Kanga Thread Starter Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Yeah Wee-Man its different here, and it shouldnt be, even though a sponsor or LFS might lose a sale to the other once in a while, if there is double the number of hobbyists everyone wins and makes more money.

    You so right the LFS is such a nice place to talk kak to people and share ideas and hear new things.

    The beauty about MASA I can pop in any time even when I travel.

    I am very pro my LFS and also very pro MASA ( SA's premier Marine site:))

    I think what annoys the LFS owners is a guy coming in and saying : "OH I can get that R300 bucks cheaper on the internet" Hence the internet is the enemy. Which I dont think should be the case
     
  5. KevinW

    KevinW

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    I think that an LFS should not just be a place that sells things. Like any other business they need to be on top of their game or they will lose out to the competition (be that the internet, other LFS's or MASA). They extra R300 is well worth it if you know that you are getting quality stock along with sound advice.
     
  6. Galibore

    Galibore Retired Moderator

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    Yes and to further this point a bit: It stands any LFS free to take on an internet presence. And in fact, LFS's (as with a lot of other small businesses) that do not embrace technology will inevitably be left behind.

    So for a LFS to say that the internet is the enemy, is not only stupid but suicidal.

    Just MO :)
     
  7. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Hi all - if I may chip in as well ;-)

    Personally, I think that most likely more than at least 80% of us have decided to go marine, BECAUSE of some show tank in some LFS or another..... I think personally that LFS' do not specialize enough - they do not care enough about marines (being passionate enough about marines) to really give good enough advice....

    Yeah - I agree - reefkeepers sometimes congregate at LFS' and help each other a lot by meeting and having invaluable and informal Q & A sessions.... BUT, the owner of the LFS, or perhaps the guy/gal just workign there - they NEED to be reefkeepers themselves before they can even BEGIN to understand what advice to give new-comers..... And to give advice to seasoned reefkeepers would then be even harder.... Perhaps they feel sort of threatened by the "superior knowledge" of people who actually keep reefs.

    I think that sites like these could be awesome - if people join it and give advice for the right reasons. Their should not be an "air of one being better than the other".... instead people trying to assist by telling what they have been able to accomplish, and exactly by which means - without BS floating around....

    I think this site (and others - internationally) have come a long way, and people are proudly show-casing their art-works (being their reef-tanks), where they have put a lot of hard-work in. They must also just understand that a LOT of newby reefers do NOT have LOADS and LOADS of cash lying around, and would like to know the real tips and trips, with the bucks-costing gimmicks... (even though they tend to go in that exact direction in the end in any case)......

    People who start out do NOT want to hear that they HAVE to spend e.g. R10000 on lights and skimmer alone.... they want to know that they can get away by getting a slightly better skimmer, and use DIY lighting (for example).....

    People are people - and MOST newby and existing reefers most likely want to start out small and grow as they become more experienced.... NOT start out buying a system that's good for immediate population of SPS..... Most newbies don't even know what SPS/LPS stands for, nor DSB or even NSW......

    So, they need to be taught....

    Who's going to teach them? The LFS who know even FAR less than they mostly do?

    BUT someone NEEDS to tell them about sites like MASA / UR..... Otherwise they will continue listening to the LFS person who barely knows anything.....

    (All of this from personal experience - had to learn the hard way - but I was most likely hard-headed as well)....
     
  8. Mike

    Mike Retired Moderator

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    I think this debate is really about Good lfs v bad lfs - we all know them, the good and bad, the good one will not only join in the rubbish being chatted about in the lfs meet, but put on the kettle and join in, the bad one will most likely say "are you going to buy anything? this isn't a pub you know" and off you will go without spending any money.
    I will stick up for my local shop, and send people there as often as possible, the lfs need our help as much as we need them to still be there.
     
  9. cybervic

    cybervic

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    Problem is people don't understand the we are in Kimberley. We are 480km from the nearest international airport. We have to spend money to get those pumps, salt, tanks and skimmer down here in Kimberley. So now they rather order something over the internet because it is R50 cheaper. They still however expect us to provide them with support on their tanks if things go wrong.

    From a LFS in Kimberley


    I'm sure there are other LFS out there that feels the same. Yes I refer people to these sites knowing I might lose a sale, but with the happy thought that I might save a marine life.

    My 2c
    Wikus
     
  10. Rod

    Rod

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    I have a link to MASA on my web page. Not all of us are wary of MASA.
     
  11. Tom

    Tom

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    Difficult subject for me.. In my "ideal" world I would like to see the lfs as a "mentor" ie. If a newby wants to start a marine tank, then the lfs could coach, and "grade" the newby. So.. Dont start a newby off with a Jebo and drip trays, jebo skimmers, two clarkii clowns and a dubiously dyed purple tipped anamone.

    It would be better to start a newby with a tank with overflow, sump, dsb, decent skimmer, good lights, simple livestock. So that the newby is not exposed to losing gonioporas, sun corals, anamone.. etc..

    What I am trying to say is, that the lfs is focused on a sale. But I have seen an thread somewhere where the lfs wanted to test the clients water first before letting him have livestock..

    That is what I would like to see, involvement and control. Some kind of grading system. Almost like a license. This could also help the terrible loss of livestock taken from the sea.

    In this short time that I have been trying to maintain an marine tank.
    The amount of livestock that has passed through my ignorant hands, and unsuitable tank has caused me great distress and lays heavily on my conscience, and I would really like to prevent another newby from suffering the same.
     
  12. Alfie

    Alfie

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    Tom I agree. Being a newby I bought from a LFS that had no idea what the right setup for marines were, hence I had to replace all with the right equipment and a new sump etc. Problem 2 the next guy saw me coming and over sold again. Equipment I could have utilised on a much bigger Tank and eventually I ended up with someone that does not only want to sell to me but gives advice, phones me to find out if I got whatever sorted etc. This advice comes at a premuim but I don't think that SA has the culture to want to pay for advice. By this I am not saying that you must be ripped off for the experience/advice.

    Example. I wanted to buy some fish for a new tank and he requested that I keep a full log of water parameters etc., I have to wait for quarantine periods etc, (I don't know how many of our LFS actually quarantine for a week before they sell to us) thus we are the ones that suffer the financial loss and it is your fualt that the livestock died,although your paramaters are all exceptable. But we keep going back to buy some more. One thing though is that the Sponsors I have dealt with on MASA have been good.
     
  13. KevinW

    KevinW

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    Why should an LFS be any different from any other business? If you start a business and expect to succeed surely one of the basics is that you have a good grasp of your market and the products/services that you are providing? To me the difference lies in the fact that the LFS is, to a large extent, reliant on trade in live animals. Thus the onus on the LFS owner/operator is even greater. To be in the LFS business and merely be focussed on making a sale is, IMO, immoral.
     
  14. Kanga

    Kanga Thread Starter Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Very Very much so, but even the ones at the top of their game, who might be on forums generally do not refer their clients to a Forum.

    You are so right, but the fact remains as JacquesB said, the LFS for most of us is the first point of contact with marines. And I dont see that changing for some time.

    " He who does not set the pace for change, becomes the victim of change" SO how do we get them to change, without fear of losing sales.

    The the irony is that although LFS have lost sales because of better/cheaper items I got from a sponsor, he has seen them and now stocks them. Besides Take the Nano I have started because of the competition, I will be some items fro the LFS (tanks, return pump, heater etc) but some from sponsors. so although he lost some sales to the sponsors there would be non of those sales had MASA not run the competition

    So the LFS won and the Sponsors won, however how does one explain to an LFS that MASA is good for his business:blushing:


    Agreed

    Very good point, true but I think in this case you are the exception to the rule, if most LFS's thought like you things would be much much better.

    Imagine the LFS himself joins as a members sees what goes on and hey presto sees this could be good for his business.


    Kimberly, mhh there early next year I will pop in:thumbup:
     
  15. Kanga

    Kanga Thread Starter Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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  16. SIMS

    SIMS

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    I agree if it were not for the SA forums I would never have spent so much money on my hobby. If I look at the LFS's in Empangeni and Richards Bay, only 1 stocks marine's and he still states that "the guys on the internet go over board and most of that stuff is a waste of money" now if they had pointed me to MASA then I would not have thought they were idiots as well as now they have me educated on good equipment which he will have an opportunity to sell to me. But as they all do...here is a jebo and all will be ok.

    I think the main problem is they do not know themselves and many of them don't specialise on Marines...I bet if we were all avid bird keepers we would think the pet shops are all stupid and knew nothing... it must be hard to learn the ins and outs of every animal you sell but I guess that's the business...
     
  17. KevinW

    KevinW

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    Because it is easy to sell puppies, kittens, bunnies etc without having to put too much effort into it?
     
  18. Kanga

    Kanga Thread Starter Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    true kevin, most focus on other items.


    But dont you guys find it strange most guys go into BMW and tell them what features the car has that the researched, or what surround sound system works how. We research our decisions we know what and how to buy.

    But the LFS has to tell us what to buy, agreed tey need to be much more clued up.

    My regular LFS is a FW boffin, and will try and sell you a sump with dsb etc. However he will sell you what you want, I asked about skimmers and he said
    LFS:OK Boet what you need for a tank that size is this here AM 1000 SL,

    Kanga: DAMN R2200 for that nah how about that one for R400 it "looks" ok

    LFS : Nah they crap, if you want the right thing this is it

    Kanga : damn they both plastic pipes with pumps, that ones looks OK.

    Luckily I did not buy it and saw a Reeftek at G4Y, paid through my backside for it but hey.

    But see what they are faced with, some will try and steer you in the right direction, but when you dont know that you dont know, you think you know better

    JMO

    If it wasnt for the internet I would have had it my way, disaster.
    If it wasnt for the LFS I would have had FW still
     
    Last edited: 18 Dec 2007
  19. cybervic

    cybervic

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    There you've "slaat die spyker op die kop :)" That is my problem. You get customers that are willing to do it right and you get customers that just want to do it.

    When I teamed up with the local LFS, they were selling standard tanks (read 1200mm x 450mm x 450mm) with a overflow with a Jebo and a small sump with bio balls and 3 T8's. The owner did not know better at that stage and they guy that started him off on marines never taught him any better.

    Now he gives customers a choice of a wider tank and a bigger sump. He won't sell you bioballs and he will give you a choice between a Reeftek, Aquamdic or Via Aqua skimmer. He will also tell you the diffrent needs of corals regarding to light. He now stocks SEIO pumps and Omega One fishfoods and are working on obtaining a dealership to stock DT's Oyster eggs and plankton.

    I think he is changing in the right direction. Yes he can do more, but I/we must remember his shop is his livelyhood and with only 10 to 15 marine customers vs hundreds of freshwater tropical customers, the freshwater will always get more attention.

    But yes I feel your LFS must play a role in educating the public. As a LFS we have decided to rather loose the sale or sell the customer freshwater if he/she are not willing to commit all out to marines. It's not cheap, it is easy but it will take a lot of commitment from the customer to make it work.

    my 2c
    Wikus
     
  20. Kanga

    Kanga Thread Starter Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Good thinking there Wikus.

    You guys will end up with happy and loyal customers.:thumbup:

    My thinking on the majority of LFS's are that there has to be a reason that these guys do/sell/think the way they do.

    I mean most the guys are decent guys who want to do the right thing, why is it that out marine sections are so neglected?

    Yes Marines are a small part of their business, but it has to be lucritive or they wouldn't do it. SO why then not educate themselves?

    How do we get them to see the value of a forum like MASA without fear of loosing business? And on this point I think the hords of tiny sponsors some forums allow is what scares them.
    The LFS has to pay rent for a prime site, water and lights other than his house, staff, take livestock losses with transport etc, source equipment etc and make a living. Hence a higher markup than a small sponsor from home, who has a 9 to 5 job, this person working from home and having a job has almost zero overheads, so if he marks up 10 % he makes an extra few thousand rand over and above his normal salary.

    Now Mr LFS cant live on 2 or 3 thousand or even 10 thousand rand a month. However here we think we have saved some money in the process, however the LFS suffers, which hurts the Marine hobby in the long run, less aquarists get to the forum becuase the LFS activly keeps them away.

    I must say that I am glad to see MASA is selective in their sponsors and must say I think all of them are great.
     
  21. SIMS

    SIMS

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    Kanga I hear what you saying and agree BUT the guy sitting at home has helped people afford to get into the hobby. The LFS in Richards Bay quoted me R10000+ for a Resun CL650 chiller and Andrew quoted me something like R4500 for the same thing from the same supplier. (just using Andrew as a eg, as this is fact not an opinion) Now I know what his markup is and found it reasonable as the he needs to live and must get rewarded for his efforts (just like all businesses) does the fact that the LFS needs to feed his kids and pay rent and so on justify the extra 100% markup? I don't think so IMO the LFS is just trying to extort money from me because I played dumb when I walked into his shop.

    Another eg. a new LFS in town has opened, I try my hardest to buy local as I strongly feel that if you spend local then locals have more to spend and in the end every business does better (mine included) So I go there and check out what items I can get from him instead of having to freight them down from Durban. Prices are mad, I don't mind paying an extra R15 or R20 on something but double the price is a little steep. I have no facts but I think that the general rule of thumb for an LFS is 100% mark up in my area...lower prices more customers.
     
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