Pet Age recently spoke with Bill Wymard, a marine biologist and director of operations for Aquarium Adventure in Columbus, Ohio, on the current state of the aquatic pet category.
Q What have been the growing trends in the aquatic industry since you opened your store in 1997?
A Well, we have seen many changes and shifts with the two biggest being lighting (a move from metal halides, to several styles and types of fluorescent, to the current explosion of LED lighting) and desk topaquariums (self-contained smaller volume aquariums with built-in filtration and lighting systems). In the “live” category, there has been a surge the last few years toward aquacultured marines (fish and corals), freshwater GloFish and shrimp.
Q How does your store concept allow you to stand out from your competition?
A Aquarium Adventure was developed and designed as an aquatic superstore, allowing us to carry a larger selection of aquatic inventory compared to any of our competition—over 75 dry decorated aquariums from two gallons up to 210 gallons on display and in stock along with
everything aquatic to maintain a healthy, great-looking aquarium. We also carry a full line of ponds and water garden inventory; we are truly all aquatic. However, the most important reason is our associates and management team (knowledgeable and professional) who are dedicated to ensuring that our customers are successful in aquarium
Q How have you incorporated your background in public aquariums with the livestock offering in your store?
A We have over 350 aquariums and 15,000 gallons of fish to offer our customers, but what really sets us apart and creates that professional edge is that all of our fish are displayed by the continent (Asia, South America, Africa and Central America) from which they are found. This allows us to better serve our customers by teaching them about mixing the right fish together with an understanding of its environment (lakes, rivers and streams). We also have 15 special aquatic display venues decorated to recreate each species’ natural habitat to give customers ideas of what they can achieve.
Q What aquarium services do you offer customers?
A We have a “Service Department” run by an aquatic veteran with over 30 years’ experience. We build custom aquariums, we deliver aquariums and equipment, we install aquariums and, finally, we provide on-going maintenance service for aquariums—all of this for both commercial and residential accounts. In addition, all of the mentioned services are offered for ponds and water gardens, too.
Q What products and services do you offer for people who want a pond/water garden?
A When we developed the model for Aquarium Adventure and the aquatic business plan, we decided to encompass ponds and water gardens also. The understanding of how ponds work—husbandry, filtration, water quality, etc.—was all the same as aquariums. We just needed to provide enough space to carry all of the desired full line inventory and equipment to satisfy our customers’ demand and make them successful pond keepers, thus the 11,000-square-foot store size.