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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

November 29, 2010

Play the Spontaneous Card

By Patrick Donston

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For those of us carrying marine aquariums and supplies, we are challenged by e-tail commerce. It's difficult to convince the general public to pay more. I believe one way to confront Internet sales is to play the "spontaneous" card: stock cool, unique and interesting items that catch their attention.

There's no better area to do this in than with your livestock selection. Staple items are needed, although housing specialized, different fish and corals on a regular basis brings in dedicated customers more often.

Try some different nano reef fish. I know we all need firefish, royal grammas, pseudochromis, clownfish and blennies. You can't go wrong there, but your clients have to see other items that "charge" them up. Some of the following suggested fish cost more money than their common cousins, but in most cases are just as hardy.

Randall's Watchman Goby: In most shops, you can always find cheap watchman gobies. A Randall is more stunning and pairs with a pistol shrimp easier. People love to see these two living together in the same burrowing hole--almost as much as the clownfish/anemone symbiotic relationship. Another unique goby choice would be the aurora watchman.
 
Aquacultured Mandarins: They are two to three times the cost of wild types, but survive better and offering them shows environmental conservation. New to the hobby, we've purchased approximately 20 and sold 18. Make sure you mark them "aquacultured," as you want your clients to know that you care.

Helfrichi Firefish: Stock regular and purple firefish, but try to bring in one Helfrichi firefish. They are just as strong and rarer--and have a better margin on the sale. Do not house them with your regular firefish.

Flasher/Carpenter Wrasses: Cheap reef wrasses are always wanted (i.e, six lines). Parachelineus types, such as flashers and carpenters, have different color morphs of purple, pink, burgundy and red. They stay small and are reasonably priced. Other unique nano wrasses are the possums (Wetmorella group).

Small Ecsenius Blennies: The most common is the bicolor (half black, half orange). Stigmatura, gravieri and lineatus are easy to get and very different. Try one of them and mark the price up a little. You'll be surprised with the response you'll get from your clients.

Different morphs of Ocellaris Clowns: Okay, we all need "Nemo" (Amphiprion ocellaris), but we now have a slew of color variants being aquacultured. Snowflakes (mostly white), Picasso, black and naked (no stripes) are all readily available. Definitely stock a pair or two.

These are just a few suggestions of the many nano fish available. Ask your supplier for unique or different choices. Make sure you talk to them about hardiness factors as they pertain to your successes in your shop. Don't overbuy when you try new fish. I recommend trying one or two as this will also express rareness to your clients.

When we bring in a Dracula goby (white with bright red vertical stripes) or my favorite nano fish: Terelabrus hog (bright red, yellow and orange horizontal bars). I get pumped up. I know they're not available every week and cost more. I also know they'll excite my customers.

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