While I fully support the entrepreneurial spirit, sometimes it’s best to be weary about friends and local hobbyists opening up their own fish stores. These stores often operate out of the owner’s home and even personal display aquariums. They are severely limited as to what they can order, but will operate as close to the wholesale price just to make a sale. Because most of these stores don’t have a lot of overhead, they are willing to steal a sale from the big bad local fish store even if they barely break even. This is great for the hobbyist, who is obviously looking for the better deal, but doing so takes money out of the stores who have been in operation in your area for decades. Additionally, most of these fly-by-night hobbyist founded stores don’t get quality livestock. They are looking at the budget more than the quality and they don’t know what wholesalers to avoid and which ones to purchase from. They will have to experiment with different wholesalers, and you may be a guinea pig in that experiment. This, of course, means you may get very poor quality livestock, but hey it’s cheap right? Lastly, most of the hobby stores close only a short time after opening.
All that being said, most fish stores start out small or even in someone’s house, with only the best making it to the storefront level. So, support the stores that are doing things right, and avoid those that don’t…regardless of how they started or what their current state is.