Like most small retailers, your local fish store (LFS) will be hard-pressed to beat the prices you can find on certain products – dry goods in particular – at online or big-box retailers. The ability of these large retailers to purchase huge quantities at deep discounts gives them a pricing advantage we simply cannot match. At the same time, however, there are some very valid reasons why saving a few dollars on the front end could cost you over time. Here are a few such reasons:
- Many online retailers still do not collect state and local sales taxes on purchases you make on their websites. This puts them at an unfair advantage over your LFS right from the get-go. In addition, when you shop with these tax-evading retailers, the end result is that your money – as well as these tax revenues – leaves your community never to return. When you buy locally, your money gets recycled locally, and your sales taxes work to improve your state and community.
- Your LFS is staffed by sales associates who know the products they sell, how to install and use them, and the appropriateness of these products for use in your system. Try gleaning this sort of expertise from FishyStuff.com.
- Sales associates in big-box pet stores are typically generalists (they have to be), meaning they have a general knowledge of all things “pet” – dogs, cats, gerbils, geckos, etc. – you get the picture. The staff at your LFS are aquatics experts. They know fish, invertebrates, aquatic plants, pumps, sumps, filters, etc. Most are avid aquarists themselves, and their knowledge and enthusiasm are born of their love for the hobby.
- Your LFS is a phone call away to provide guidance, answer questions, and assist you in your pursuit of the perfect set-up. Not sure how to install that new reactor? No problem. Just call your LFS, and let their staff talk you through it.
- Walk into your LFS, and you’ll likely be greeted by several staff members. Have a question or need advice? You won’t have to wander the aisles looking for someone to help you, or be made to feel like assisting you is a major inconvenience.
In conclusion, remember that value and price are not the same. The knowledge and assistance available to you at your LFS are the values added to the price of their merchandise, and are seldom included by that online or big-box retailer.