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Why Expanding Your Store’s Aquatic Garden is a Good Idea


August 6, 2014

We are seeing more and more aquatic stores adding freshwater planted tanks to their mix of store setups. Even stores that had been strictly saltwater oriented in the past are adding this growing freshwater category.

When we ask why a retail owner has expanded into planted tanks, the overwhelming response we get is that it adds diversity to their offering and draws new customers into the store that they didn’t have before.

A live plant display tank can add real zest to any aquatic section. There is a large variety of live plants available, and with a few beautiful display tanks set up in strategic areas of the store, a new profit center is born.

Having a green thumb in the aquatic plant hobby can be as rewarding and grant the same feeling of accomplishment to those with vegetable or flower gardens and house plants. Having a planted aquarium can be very addictive, and even basic customers will want to experiment with and expand their hobby to include several different biotopes of planted setups.

Once a customer has set up their new freshwater planted aquarium, the retailer can expect frequent return visits for consumables like plant fertilizers, CO2, RO water, water quality additives and of course, more fish and plants. There is very little competition from large chains when it comes to planted tanks, so stores that have entered into this category will experience a steady growth if they concentrate on offering setup advice and recommendations that only a specialty store can provide.

Try to appeal to all potential customer groups by setting up several aquarium sizes, offering the consumer suggestions from a small desktop cube to a 15-gallon tank and even up to 55-gallon or larger setups. In this way, a wide variety of choices will inspire any customer to try their own live planted tank.

Just like any store display, live planted tanks require maintenance. Potential customers are not going to be impressed if the plants have yellowing and decaying leaves or a dead fish is lying on the gravel. Be sure to assign a store aquatic specialist to check on and maintain the display tanks daily to keep them in optimum shape. Customers need to know that these tanks are not maintenance free, but the reward is having a beautiful aquatic garden of their own.

Try running a photo contest monthly to keep your new hobbyist engaged. Check with your suppliers or manufacturers for grand prizes such as canister filters, circulation pumps or heating cables to reward the accomplished winners. If you assure the manufacturer that you will display the product as a grand prize in your store for 30 days, you would be surprised how many companies would participate. Talk to your distributor salesperson for other specific product ideas.

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