They come from Australia, Bali, Brazil, Sri Lanka and various African nations. They have strange names like Mystery wrasse, Flame angelfish and Purple tang. And come June 25, they will all be calling Larchmont home.
They are the fish of Exotic Aquatics’ The Reef Shop, a new aquarium sales and service store on Boston Post Road.
Partners Michael Curie of New Rochelle, Chris Combariati of Greenwich, CT, and Mark Feuerstein of Derby, CT, opened their first store in Norwalk, CT, in August 2010. Before that, they operated an aquarium installation and maintenance business together—something that will continue to be a large part of what they do. Many area aquarium suppliers use them when they sell installation and maintenance services to their clients, explained Feuerstein.
“By going to us,” he said, “they’re cutting out the middleman. We charge our clients exactly what we charge other suppliers.”
The Larchmont store will offer hundreds of species of fish in a 450-square-foot space. There are certain “bread and butter fish,” the partners said, some of which are already in tanks at the new location; rarer fish are imported on a rotating basis.
“When people walk into the Connecticut store, we hear ‘Wow, I’ve never seen this before,’ or ‘I’ve only seen this on TV,’” Feuerstein said. “We get a little rush from that.” He added that he fully expects to hear similar comments at the Larchmont location.
Because they import directly, the store will offer prices that are closer to wholesale than retail. Shipping is their biggest expense, they said. Combariati usually handles the pickups, which involve going to area airports, retrieving the fish and going through customs. Feuerstein said that if they misspell even one species name on the customs forms, their entire shipment can be seized, and they can be hit with a fine of top of that. So careful spelling and recordkeeping is a must.
Shipping can cost several hundreds of dollars, primarily because of all the water weight. The cost of sharks, for example, can balloon to over $600.
Special requests for importing fish species are quite common and easily accommodated, the partners said.
“A lot of people don’t realize that since we don’t deal with wholesalers, we can pretty much get them anything,” Feuerstein said.
The partners chose Larchmont because of the location, they said. With few competitors around, they expect to serve people from Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, White Plains and other surrounding communities. Given their proximity to the Long Island Sound and other fishing locations, Exotic Aquatics’ The Reef Shop also plans to sell bait, Feuerstein said.
For clients on a budget, including institutional clients like day-care centers and nursing homes, the business has an ongoing promotion where clients pay a one-time setup fee and a monthly maintenance fee special instead of the entire cost upfront. If they want to discontinue the service after one year, it will be dismantled free of charge. “It’s a win-win situation for people who can’t go out and buy a whole system,” Feuerstein said.
The partners also spread the wealth when they are hired to dismantle a system: they often distribute equipment to other clients free of charge. Dismantled equipment is also available for purchase on a consignment basis.
There will be several grand-opening specials going on, especially during The Reef Shop’s first month in business. A free raffle of a 55-gallon setup will run. Some more expensive fish, such as Flame angels and Mystery wrasses, will be deeply discounted from their usual prices, which can run from about $150 to about $225. And there will be a 20 percent-off sale on all livestock not already on special, Feuerstein said.
Exotic Aquatics’ The Reef Shop will be located at 2130A Boston Post Rd. in Larchmont. For more information, visit myreefshop.com or call 914-834-0758.