There is gold in them there tanks!!! Adding goldfish can boost sales and draw a whole new group of buyers. Everybody has heard a story from a customer entering their store about how it all started with a few ten cent feeder goldfish in a rain barrel and now they have a 5000-gal pond. How many of you water garden/pond shop owner’s first car was a Porsche or Lamborghini? Mine was not…(It was an inexpensive starter vehicle, a station wagon at that!)
The moral of the story is that selling goldfish is like planting a seed that will grow into a relationship that will bear fruit (money) for a long time. If an established pond owner has a pond full of larger fish, plants and a great filtration system, what else are you gonna sell em?
If a new pond owner is attracted to your business, they will eventually need everything to get them to the “established” stage. Cash flow is very, very important in this economy. Would you rather have $100 once a year from a visit or $20 from the customer on five different visits (if the amount of manpower needed to satisfy the customer was the same)? I would choose five visits because there is always the opportunity to sell them something else.
***Okay, so you have decided to offer goldfish in your shop.*** Now the big decision as to what you should carry. There are so many types of goldfish being produced and sold the possibilities are almost endless. Based on sales volumes, the most popular varieties are the elongated body styles that are fast and most suitable in an outdoor environment. These include varieties such as Sarassa Comets, Shubunkins, and Common Red Goldfish.
***The history of goldfish goes back thousands of years.*** Centuries of careful breeding in China, Korea, and Japan has resulted in some truly magnificent creatures. It has been said that the first goldfish came to America in 1874 by Admiral Ammon and were eventually distributed around the Philadelphia area amongst the well-to-do enthusiasts.
Selling these fish is easy. You can mix varieties in the same tank. Some wholesalers even sell a mix of goldfish and this allows you to order one box and get a little bit of everything. A typical retail shop will have one or two tanks of goldfish, usually a couple sizes. These fish are extremely hardy and can take temperature swings well. Goldfish like salt and the addition of five pounds of non-iodized salt per 100-gal of system water helps keep them in great shape. Goldfish also seem to be stronger and very resilient to the stresses of handling. This is great for the starter pond and means less follow-up health questions that you may receive on a bit less hardy koi. Adding detailed signage showing the description and care will also boost sales.
##Give ‘Em Away!##
Don’t sell them …give them away. Advertise, “come in and get your free goldfish.” Yes that’s right, buy them and then give them away. What? Well, have you ever heard of the free hamster, or stone soup? That free goldfish can be the start of a great (and profitable) relationship. Have you ever thought about what it takes (cost) to gain a new customer? For $1.00 to $3.00 you can attract a customer to your location, make them happy, and have the chance to sell them other items for that goldfish. One small bag of fish food should have enough profit to pay for a couple of free goldfish. If you can break even on the transaction AND gain a customer, you are well on your way to great long-term profits and a growing clientele.
##Part of the Answer##
Regardless of how big or small your business is, selling goldfish is part of the answer. Planting the seed will reap huge profits and long term relationships that are so important to the success in a tough economy. You have to ask yourself “would I rather have a bunch of smaller sales continuously or wait for the sporadic large sale to happen?” My guess is that you will reply that all money helps.
In the next issue…optimizing your holding system to maximize sales. Some simple fixes that are sure fire ways to increase total sales and average invoice size!
##The Most Popular Goldfish##
**Sarassa Comets** – These red and white fish have always been a favorite. The random patterns of color show up well against a black background of a pond. Part of the popularity stems from the resemblance of the koi variety-Kohaku, with various patterns and cherry red coloration. Sometimes you will see these with a tancho mark on the head.
**Shubunkin** – This normally blue variety is also a big favorite. Commonly , there are areas of red color and other hues that make every fish a little different. The Midnight Shubunkin is a black and white variety that is more rare and often sought after.
**Common Red** – Yep you guessed it. These are the same as those five for a dollar feeder fish you see sold at the pet stores. The individuals sold at the pond stores are typically bigger older fish that have had a chance to develop a deeper red color. These fish are probably the most commonly sold goldfish in America. If you ask most anyone if they have kept goldfish in the past …I bet 9 out of 10 times they have had common reds. This variety may only sell for a few dollars …but it eats food (a higher profit) just like the rest of them.
**Japanese Wakin** – This double tail elongated variety is said to be the new variety produced from the common goldfish. Japan is credited of producing these originally.
They are fairly quick swimmers and are somewhat a collectors item for those in the higher end koi communities. In recent years we have seen a few calico (Shubunkin) types.
**American Fantails** – The American version of the fantail goldfish has a much more elongated body style because they are typically raised in larger outdoor pools, rather than small tanks. This allows them better swimming mobility and are suitable for small ponds that are somewhat protected from predators.
**Others** – There are numerous varieties of imported goldfish out there with every fin type, body shape, and head type imaginable, however most of these fish are more suitable for protected aquariums rather that ponds. Who knows, the winter aquarium market may be something to consider as some bonus cash flow. There are some goldfish who’s marking resemble koi markings in pattern and intensity.