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Sponsorship Dilemmas...


MVPaquatics
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I want to address this brick and mortar or online store only rule.

 

"Any vendor that is interested in becoming a Sponsor of the PNWMAS should contact the current PNWMAS President or Vendor Relations Officer. A Sponsor's Membership costs $150.00 a year in cash, gift certificates, or dry goods donation. Sponsors must be a valid business with a current business license and a physical (brick and mortar) store or an e-commerce website that is capable of taking orders and payments. Here is what your membership can get you. A banner on our sponsors page. A banner on our rotation for every page on the forum. Your own forum to sell your wares. Access to our members forum. An opportunity to run for the Board of Directors for the Club. Voting rights. And most importantly, an opportunity to hear your customer base.

 

For Sponsorship information please PM Michael (Michael7979)"

 

 

First off, Michael7979 doesn't do this job anymore...can someone update that? I would think sponsorship info is important to the club and should be handled ASAP.

 

I am a trained zoologist. I graduated from OSU. I work mainly with exotics, and of course pets work their way into my life as well. I have been in the saltwater business full-time for 10 years. I am 27 years old. Fish are not my only area of focus but do take up a lot of my time. I DO NOT sell retail. I do maintenance only. I will watch any of your animals while you are away. I will help you in a dire emergency. I will give you any advice I have to offer for free, you do not have to come to my shop (dont have one), just ask. I have email, PM and phone/text. I am fairly well connected, if you are having trouble finding something special or need some ideas, I am sure I can help. Most of my clients are hospitals, Dr's offices, veterinary offices, a few restaurants and a few residential. I pride myself on being professional, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and loyal (the last of which can go a long way in our small fish world).

 

I also pride myself on being able to give you the best knowledge to my ability. I am not trying to sell you something. I am here for the animals. I do have many tanks of my own, I could easily run something out of my garage, but that just undercuts the retailers, they have big bills to pay. Not that I don't, I just think there are plenty of open markets out there.

 

I wish not to step on local retailers toes. I try to give my business to as many local people as possible, and do shop at local fish stores myself even though I have my own wholesale abilities. Often it is easier to just go local when you have smaller volume like me.

 

I would love to sponsor the site for many reasons. I would love a place to condense my articles and photos. I would love to be able to have a place to donate items for TFT. I do occasionally have extra equipment or livestock to sell but it is very limited and always at a great price (with no extra room I just gotta get rid of it!) Also, members are always looking for extra help, I just want to make myself available and known. I can't even put that I do aquarium maintenance in my signature without sponsor ship and then I am not allowed. What about the little guys? How are you supposed to start anything?

 

I just ask that you possibly reconsider this rule. There are people out there, like me, trying to make an honest living as a smaller business.

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I think that when the rule was written it did not take maintenance folks into account. It's great that you want to sponsor the club and I (for what its worth) stand behind it fully. There should be an ammendment to the rule stating that maintenance business are exempt from needing a brick and mortar or online business front. Do you have a website for your maintenance business? It would be a great way to get the word out.

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Thanks Mike for the thoughtful response. I know the issue of needing a brick and mortar store or online store can be frustrating.

 

Thanks for also letting me know that the contact information is out of date. Michael7979 stepped down and Stylaster is now our interim vendor relations person. I sent a message to Chief to change this.

 

Like I said before, the change in sponsorship rules was made before I was a board member so I do not know all of the pros and cons.

 

 

any vendor that is interested in becoming a Sponsor of the PNWMAS should contact the current PNWMAS President or Vendor Relations Officer. A Sponsor's Membership costs $150.00 a year in cash, gift certificates, or dry goods donation. Sponsors must be a valid business with a current business license and a physical (brick and mortar) store or an e-commerce website that is capable of taking orders and payments.

 

 

I do know in the past sponsorship was only 50 dollars and that pretty much anyone who could come up with a clever name could have a sponsorship and they didn't necessarily have a business license which devalued the sponsorship.

 

It gets to be a sticky situation for those who do not have a brick and mortar store or online accounts but have a wholesale accounts as they cannot post in the classifieds. This does undercut the sponsors and unfortunately there have been members who have abused this.

 

This is a very difficult hobby to make a living in. I am sympathetic to your situation but I honestly do not know if there is a good answer or solution. Unfortunately a few bad apples have ruined it for others.

 

I don't think these rules are unique to this forum. Hopefully other board members can chime in with their thoughts here.

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I am working on a site. Mainly for potential customers to see our work. My main problem is i want to be a big part of it. I cant stand sites that never change. I want to add pictures often. Make some areas for comments and questionaires. Not my area of expertise. But i want to learn.

 

I really do understand their intentions for the rules. I like to think i play fair and dont hurt other business (at least intentionally). Many wholesalers have the same rules. I have actually had to use other wholesalers as references to other ones to get in. Its tough for a startup but 2 years in (1 in portland) we are finally taking off.

 

And i do have a liscense, tax ids, insurance etc.

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Why not add a separate sponsorship section for maintenance companies with its own set of bylaws? It seems it would minimize potential conflict with other brick and mortar sponsors? Or maybe it wouldn't?

 

MVPaquatics, have you looked into using a blogspot type of website? They're easy to design and update. Here's an example of a friends' site. http://sharptern.blogspot.com/ He doesn't sell anything but it's easy to see how one could make simple changes to the design to accommodate a business. Hope this helps.

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Maintenance and installation aquarium companies do follow the same rules as the other sponsors because they usually buy wholesale aquarium related equipment and they sell it retail to their clients as part of their installation business.

A maintenance only company could be an exception but in my point of view it is difficult for us to know if you are buying wholesale or not.

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MIKE!!! MVP AQUATICS! I love this guy. He stepped in quickly when my former guy could no longer fit me it. He is personable, genuine, smart and a pleasure to deal with. And I am not the easiest of clients (ask him about my simple sump swap).

I never contact Mike via a website, he has this awesome "mobile phone" that I use to contact him.

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I am working on a site. Mainly for potential customers to see our work. My main problem is i want to be a big part of it. I cant stand sites that never change. I want to add pictures often. Make some areas for comments and questionaires. Not my area of expertise. But i want to learn.

 

I really do understand their intentions for the rules. I like to think i play fair and dont hurt other business (at least intentionally). Many wholesalers have the same rules. I have actually had to use other wholesalers as references to other ones to get in. Its tough for a startup but 2 years in (1 in portland) we are finally taking off.

 

And i do have a liscense, tax ids, insurance etc.

 

Let me tell you bro, this whole reefing things is fun until when it come down to business, first step into this business I thought all wholesaler was my way out, but i was wrong they will never protect you matter as fact they sell to our costumer and in front of us they just act normal, in my world of business that is not how it work, everyone have to make a living but you have to have a rule, we all only live once so Play hard work hard and never lie to your self.

 

Tim

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I appreciate everyones comments! We have a little bit of everyone, board members, friends, customers, and other sponsors. I love a good discussion! haha

 

Helen. Thank you for your nice comments! cutting a sump out with a dremel/hammer isn't a simple job? haha! Whatever it takes!

 

I will tell you straight up I do buy wholesale. I will also tell you WHAT I buy wholesale. I HAVE to buy livestock wholesale. I simply cannot buy full retail, have losses, quarantine (all my livestock - I do fresh and salt and dart frogs), feed, transport, etc. and have any markup what-so-ever. I cant buy a retail livestock for 5, sell it for 7, and have customers go into a store and see they can get it for less themselves. How would you feel? However, my tiny markup is just to cover those things I listed. I do not feel comfortable installing a tank, maintaining it, and also stocking it for a huge profit, customers dont last that long being treated that way. I make my money going the extra distance. Being there when others can't, taking less money when others won't, being on time, professional. I want long term customers, contracts, not come and go customers.

 

I don't usually buy tanks or anything wholesale. Drygoods wholesalers won't talk to me. Heck, Dr. Foster Smith "wholesale" said no. I can meet minimum orders buy they dont care. I turn to LFS/custom tank builders here. I plead my situation. Rarely works. But I am not opposed to selling a tank setup to a client at cost if they sign a maintenance deal. Whatever it takes! I always hookup on groupbuys, and I shop around. If any LFS ever offered a small discount for my business I would gladly accept, I can easily put a small dent or cover minimum orders, I just dont see why they want all that plus full markup... I have even offered many LFS to pickup their livestock from airports/wholesalers...offer still stands.

 

Wholesalers definately have a catch 22 selling to me. Many retailers get mad when they sell to little guys thinking we are going to undercut them. It can be true but luckily the wholesalers I have know this isnt true. I need and love LFS, I do not want to take them out. They can get things I cannot. That isnt the business I want. The business I want, and am currently building, is one that puts tanks where they might not always be. You know how many empty Dr's office/vet office waiting rooms are tankless now? That is my market. I could never think to have them all. There is more than enough room for us all in the business if there was less cut-throat competition and more specialization and collaboration (ED we had this conversation).

 

Basically, I am here to stay, I just thought my sponsorship might mean something...if it changes let me know!

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Mike , I have personally dealt with you although have not actually met you yet. I do appreciate your knowledge and advice as it typically has some research behind it. You obviously have a passion and love of this hobby. By the way I went to Dave's place (Barelycuda) a couple of weeks ago and the Bangaii's are doing very well!

 

I love that you are into breeding as I do think for sustainability it's the long term way to go. Please know the decision to not allow you to sponsor is not a personal one. Unfortunately there are always unethical people out there and there have been instances where members have been ripped off by a sponsor who ended up not having a legitimate business. The rules were changed to help combat this and making exceptions just ends up causing problems and drama down the road. To be honest, I think most of the people on this forum do their own maintenance so this is probably not the best market for a maintenance provider.

 

I do think you provide a lot to this forum and I am glad you are sticking around.

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To be honest i scoffed at the idea of sponsorship when i started. But i have gotten a ton of business through this site. Either to direct members or through referals. I did plumbing for three member this month alone. Cuz I am cheap fast and good.

 

Thats another thing I like to do that you wouldnt catch many retailers doing is buying off hobbiests. Not trade ins but paying cash asking prices. I love putting money back into the hobby that way. I will admit i am a classifieds hog, but on the purchasing side, never sold a thing...I cant haha. I will stick around for sure. Just looking to build and give back

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Kim' date=' what now constitutes a 'legitimate' business? Business License? Storefront? Just curious.[/quote']

Hey Mark

 

According to the current rules:

Sponsors must be a valid business with a current business license and a physical (brick and mortar) store or an e-commerce website that is capable of taking orders and payments.

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I have no issue with this I think the board should re review this I have the site that makes me legal by site guidelines but my maintenance is ware I make my living not off the coral site which i don't advertise on here for obvious reasons being in Medford. I believe if you have a business and have been operating for at least a year that pertains to this hobby and site you should be able to sponsor all though I would disagree with above post on allowing folks to post business related links on the names unless sponsoring at least in some way.

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I think u are correct and most I think know who we are talking about but he had not been in business for a year so I think if it is re reviewed and some new guidelines are made this will keep it from happening again but to be honest you can fallow the guidelines as is and still do bad dealings.

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Anyone can set up a website thru zencart for free and it can take paypal immediately and if you have a merchant account can set that up as well so anyone can do this if they have much computer savy quickly and then meet guidelines and still screw folks if that's there intent

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I have to tell you (and this has nothing to do with you becoming a sponsor) l am cracking up at the idea that you don't undercut LFS. Obviously all LFS undercut eachother so I am not signaling you out just pointing out that many if not all LFS in the area do maintenance, in fact its probably an important part of a healthy LFS business plan.

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I'm not saying you should be excluded from sponsorship, I'm just saying don't kid yourself you are in direct competition with many brick and mortar stores. IMO you should just meet the requirements so that the board members don't have to get an earful of "well you let MVP become a sponsor". Sounds like all you need is the website so it shouldn't be all that hard for you to qualify.

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Let me address that. There is yet to be a successful retail/maintenance company. ALL the companies are based off ONE focal person. Take Tim at westside, Garrett at the premium aquarium, etc. They cannot be everywhere at once. To be KING of either, I believe you must choose. There isn't enough money or capable personel at one shop to do both the best they can be, not here anyway, maybe LA or VEGAS or something.

 

I can say that I personally dont undercut the competition. Heck I might charge more. I just feel I am the best at what I do and I suppose others see it too. I have probably taken business that would have went elsewhere. But it wasn't direct, I dont even advertise. They sought me.

 

That is the HUUUUGE point I am trying to make.. Undercut/compete less, specialize more. I am good at maintenance. I have the ability to drop anything, anytime to go to something if I need to. What retailer can do that? and IF they did they would just have unhappy customers at the storefront. That is the number one complain I hear about the LFS is the main guy isn't available. Well I am the best maintenance guy and I am available. I am first to admit I would suck at retail, I dont want that, so rest assured.

 

I can easily meet the criteria of the site. I can setup a online store no sweat. But what you are doing is pushing me towards a niche that IS is direct competition (WHERE I AM TRYING TO AVOID!!!) I have had so many members say, just make a new name and sell under that, make a site and sell from that. I dont see why I need to bend the rules when I can address them head-on. And I could easily pull that "well such-and-such got to do it, why cant I?" There are sponsors now that dont meet criteria and some sponsors that wouldnt be here today if they were set in stone years ago. But again, that is so immature it is not even funny, the classic take someone down cuz I cant go up. I dont think so

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Let's get real for a minute... This sponsorship rule was set in place when everyone and their grandmother were ordering in bulk from somewhere (mostly wholesale) and selling out of their quarantine tanks, garages, and even their newly overcrowded display tanks. The ones who were legit (Garrett and others) have strived to meet these requirements, and the others have been driven out. A maintenance company shouldn't need a brick and mortar store or an online sales site. It simply isn't needed to run the business and be profitable. I would say it would probably hurt the business by paying to rent and maintain them. I'm not calling anyone out just generalizing here. As a whole, this forum in general gets so caught up on dictating over everything and over analyzing things that they miss the point. There is a business (that may or may not be legit(no disrespect just want to be PC) that wants to help and support our forum. With his sponsorship, he presents a unique problem with meeting the requirements due to his unique business model. It isn't that much trouble to amend the rule so it gives the forum leaders the ultimate say-so on these type of matters pending a review of the individual case. It sounds like this is a no brainer, and would keep it on a per case basis. So we can still keep the so called sponsors out that aren't in fact sponsors at all. Maybe you ask for some supporting paperwork to verify his legitimacy as a business and if it checks out to the forum leaders standards then he's in and if not the he's out...

 

It sounds like you have a valid business and with that a valid reason for wanting to be a sponsor. That's not for me to decide but I think the leaders here are very competent and will get this right for you. Good luck

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