Now all of you have heard about Riverside Aquaria, I thought it would be good to find out a little more about our new neighbours Jacki & David Learmonth. I was lucky to pull them away from the shop long enough to ask them some questions...
So guys, how does it feel to have your own store? for lots of fishkeepers, your own store is like a dream come true?
What gave you the Idea in the first place?
I have been going to fish shops for years, I have bought fish from many different areas of the hobby but the best feeling is going into a small shop not knowing what you are going to see. For instance we visited Aqualife in Leyland, The shop is around the same size as Livingston but it took us over 2 hours and a second 30minute visit to buy. Thats what we want to create, if that makes sense?
Have you worked in retail before, or is this a completely new venture all together?
I was a Plant area manager in a garden centre for 17 years. Although it is a completely different trade there are many similarities. Although I have a lot to learn still about being a fish retailer I feel my experience can really help me. Jacki background is mainly in banking, but anyone who talked to her at the table sale will know she has a decent knowledge of the fish we keep and breed at home.
What made you choose Riverside?
There was an element of chance involved in the actual purchase, it all stemmed from a chance conversation with the previous owner, but I have always said, if I want to build a fish shop from scratch I would build it like Riverside. It has a great flow to it and the fish room has such a nice feeling too.
Do you have any major plans for the store?
As I have mentioned in our post, we are planning to have a large betta display all in individually filter aquariums, we hope to bring in more unusual fish alongside the bread and butter lines to attract new and experienced customers. Aquascaping is also rising in popularity, as seen at your George Farmer night and we will hope to have great plants and accessories. We also know, having young children, how stressful a shop visit can be, we hope to come up with some ideas to help this. We would also love to have an opening event when everything is in place.
Your Table at last years Table sale sold every fish you brought. did this have anything to do with you making the decision to go for a store?
The table sale was a great success for us, it came just a the right time as we had just started talks with riverside plus all our home bred fish had reached a sellable size. It really was a great day, enjoyed every minute of it and sold out within the hour. It cemented in our minds that there was a great demand, and that our fish choice wasn’t too weird. 😊 Hope we are going to be able to make it again this year.
With so many people starting up from their own home, what was it for you that drove you to a store instead?
Its back to one of the previous questions, I want people to have the experience of a visit to a fish shop, the sound, the smell, the colours, it is never the same ordering off a list or a picture, in my eyes anyway. I have bought fish from most types of sellers out there, the fish breeders, the sheds, and fish shops and you still cant beat the feeling of walking into a fish shop and finding that one fish you have always wanted, or buying the most common type of fish possible just because it is stunning in shape size or colour.
People have bred fish from the start of the hobby that will never change and I never would want it to they are the life blood of the hobby. The sheds are a reasonably new phenomena, and they are not all bad for the hobby take Ian Mason at KDY tropical for instance, so much knowledge and not just in it to make a quick buck.
Lothian Fishkeepers is delighted to have two of its members behind doors of Livingstons only real fish store and with that 10% discount, I’m sure you can expect to see lots of us popping in soon to see you.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and on behalf of all the members at lothian Fishkeepers, I wish you good luck with Riverside Aquariums.