Many, if not most pond enthusiasts own other pets, so they’re already your potential customers. Including pond products in your inventory gives them another reason to shop your store instead of the home improvement or gardening centers. In northern climates, having a pond section will help bridge the gap during slower summer months.
Keep things simple, especially in the beginning. Choose one manufacturer that offers everything you need. This will help avoid confusion among sales staff as well as shoppers, and minimize hassles with ordering and invoicing different items from different vendors.
Remember, your time is valuable.
Brands like TetraPond, Danner Pondmaster and Hagen’s Laguna line are well recognized and offer a full range of products that are designed to be used in synergy with each other. These manufacturers also provide good technical and customer support, along with effective merchandising aids.
If you don’t already have a pond section, deciding what products to carry will be determined in part by the amount of space and capital you have, but also by the demands of your customers and by your staff’s knowledge level. And while offering a full line of pond equipment is a wonderful goal, you don’t have to become an all-inclusive pond center overnight to satisfy the basic needs of your clientele. You don’t need to dedicate half your store to preformed liners, large filters and statuary. You may have an area that needs a face-lift or a line of products that isn’t moving. Why not spruce up that area, close out those slow sellers and make that space your pond section?
Consumables like pond fish foods, water treatments and algaecides are the most commonly shopped products, and they don’t tie up a lot of space or money. End caps or seasonal displays with these key items are a great way to get started with pond products! Staple foods for goldfish and koi are a must, of course, but don’t forget color-enhancing foods and treats. Koi owners love to spoil their fish and are always looking for something new and fun to indulge themselves and their pets. Kaytee offers a line of treat foods that look and smell like those fruity cereals we used to eat as kids.
Maintenance products and preventatives are always in demand as well, and they don’t occupy a lot of space. These include skimming nets, bottom vacuums, barley straw and filter media. Underwater lighting is becoming increasingly popular as well, so if space allows, try to incorporate a working display into your pond section. And don’t forget planting supplies and fertilizers, even if you don’t offer the plants themselves. Lilies and emergent plants always need re-potted and fed.
If you do sell pumps, filters and ultraviolet sterilizers, make sure you keep media, spare impellers, seals, UV lamps and other wearable parts in stock at all times. When equipment breaks down, your customers can’t wait for you to order parts and will quickly go somewhere else or shop online. Availability of replacement parts and support products is a good way to decide which brands to carry.
Don’t forget livestock. Many hobbyists, especially those in northern climates, just want some colorful, inexpensive fish to brighten up their ponds for the summer. They’ll often trade them in as winter approaches, rather than bother with setting up indoor facilities. Clear out a few tanks in your fish department and stock them with comets, sarassa goldfish, shubunkins and small to medium-sized koi. If you sell feeder goldfish, select the nicest ones out of each new batch and offer them as pond comets at premium pricing. Oxygenating plants such as hornwort and anacharis (where legal) are great sellers, as well.
Finally, make sure your staff is knowledgeable in basic pond management techniques and product sales. Have your manufacturer or distributor rep present educational seminars. Hold weekend sales contests for your staff to create enthusiasm and spark sales.