Major Announcement and Future Plans
This is David, the owner of Aquatic Arts. I wanted to tell you about some of the big changes coming up for our company in 2021. This page has been edited since it was originally written, as our plans have changed for the better after having the opportunity to acquire an even larger warehouse complex than we initially planned. Rather than roughly 40,000 square feet, we will instead be acquiring a space that is around 70,000 square feet. Read on for the details!
As some of you know, we experienced historic levels of sales volume last year, mostly due to our ever-growing repeat customer base. Our newsletter subscription has grown to nearly 50,000 subscribers, and Aquatic Arts LLC now employs 37 people. While a small part of it can be attributed to this year’s global pandemic, this growth has been organic and tracked closely with our rate of growth for the past 6 years of 70 - 110% per year. Because of all this growth, we are critically low on space in our existing facility. Many of you have probably noticed this in the form of chronic stock-outs, and our limited/special items often selling out within minutes of being put in stock (which is a great reason to check out the newsletter quickly every week). So, the time has come for some big changes at Aquatic Arts. We wanted to give you an idea of what we are working on, and how we plan to make Aquatic Arts the best aquarium store there is in the coming year. Here are a few of the things we are doing:
- Rather than signing another lease for the warehouse we currently occupy, we have made the decision to purchase a warehouse for our company with over 70,000 square feet of usable warehouse space and an additional 4 acres of land that can be developed as needed, located within Indianapolis, IN. To put this into perspective, we currently operate out of about 8,000 square feet of warehouse space. This new facility will allow us to expand into every aspect of the hobby, including a comprehensive selection of captive-bred marine items, as well as a vast selection of freshwater fish and invertebrates across every category. Additionally, we will have the space to stock drastically higher levels of inventory, which should eliminate most of our problems with stocking enough inventory to meet demand. Because of our increased purchasing power, we will be able to offer our customers substantially lower prices on many of the items we sell as well as cutting our shipping costs (unless the carriers increase rates even more). As we fill up the existing 70,000 square feet of space during the coming year, we will begin construction on supporting buildings and additional holding space to ensure we can meet the much of the United States’ demand for high-quality aquatic items, particularly those you’ll almost never see at a regular aquarium store. Among other things, this complex will include a state-of-the-art coral breeding facility that will attempt to permanently establish at-risk corals in the hobby to help save them before they disappear forever. This complex will be a massive, multimillion-dollar project that will involve engineering completely new systems for our entire business and will take several years to be fully realized. Even so, we hope to begin this work shortly and have about 400% of our current holding space by the end of this year (2021).
- As part of the new Aquatic Arts HQ complex mentioned above, we will be opening the the world’s greatest retail store for live aquatic goods and high-end aquarium supplies. It will be located in our Indianapolis complex and will feature nearly every species we sell online at prices that will make it worth the drive even from hours away. We are confident that the selection this retail store will make locally available will be unrivaled worldwide, as it will be in the same complex as our internet operations and draw from our e-commerce selection. That e-commerce selection is already vast in our existing space, but will exceed even our largest rivals once completed in our new HQ complex. This store will operate in a completely different way than regular aquarium stores, and we are extremely excited to start revealing some of this information as we move closer to opening.
- Last year, we finalized the purchase of yet another building for the express purpose of breeding freshwater invertebrates such as dwarf shrimp. We have known there was huge demand for high-quality, USA-bred dwarf shrimp for years now. Despite the superior genetics and affordable price of Asian-bred dwarf shrimp, some customers are always going to prefer USA-bred specimens. Until now, no company has undertaken the tremendous amount of work and expense to set up a breeding facility in the United States that could even come close to meeting the hobby’s demand for freshwater invertebrates. As of now, that is no longer true. Aquatic Arts is investing more than $500,000 into creating a state-of-the-art INDOOR breeding facility that will produce millions of freshwater invertebrates per year. This facility will integrate many years of combined experience among myself and our expert staff, modern technology and digital controls, the strictest quarantine measures, and some of the best genetic lines in the world to accomplish something that has never been done at this scale before. However, it will be at least the end of this year before we start selling any invertebrates bred at this facility. We need to scale up our breeding colonies into the 5-figure range before selling any specimens, so we expect to be at full production capacity by this time next year.
We have always enjoyed “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to how we do business and house our live inventory (such as making every holding tank a closed system to prevent the spread of pathogens), and I believe that is one of the main reasons we have really set ourselves apart from our competition. Even so, our most valuable source of learning and experience is you, our customers. For that reason, we love it when you make suggestions, offer constructive criticism, and tell us how we can serve you better. To take that even farther: if you think you can help make Aquatic Arts awesome and are a passionate hobbyist that is interested in a real career with major potential within the hobby, we are always hiring and may even help with relocation costs for out-of-state hires! A college education is not as important to us as a strong dedication, knowledge base, and active interest in the aquarium hobby. We may even be interested in hiring you for consulting services, particularly for those with master-level knowledge of coral propagation. Send us your “Aquatics Resume” if interested. We start at $15/hour as our base pay, because we believe in paying our employees a living wage and creating real careers within the hobby so our staff can continue growing in their expertise. I believe we already have the most collectively experienced staff of any aquarium company worldwide, but we will never stop raising that bar and finding the most experienced and passionate aquarists out there to drive Aquatic Arts forward.
Thanks for reading! I want to sincerely say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the reason why all this is possible. I never could have imagined getting to this point when just a few of us started Aquatic Arts in a cheap, leaky basement in Indiana’s most violent zip-code 7 years ago, and when our employees (including myself and Crystal) worked for around $8/hour. This company and our customers have given me and so many others the opportunity to do something we really care about and find purpose in life. We have had our ups and downs, made many mistakes, and learned a lot during the time we have been in business. Among other things, we’ve learned that this doesn’t have to be an industry that regards aquatic life only as a fiscal commodity, that our customers can (and do) teach us new and obscure things about the hobby every day, and that the people who make up the aquarium hobby are one of the most passionate and intelligent groups of people there is (and should be treated as such). You are the reason we are always raising the bar, and why we are all in for this company and this hobby. We cannot wait to show you what we have in store for you later this year, and we hope you are ready for a whole new level of aquarium store!
Owner and Director of Business Development