Pond Profits Come
Increasingly, water garden retailers rely on livestock sales, word-
of-mouth marketing and providing full-service pond installation and
care to build their businesses.
BY E THAN D. MIZER
Rising rates of home ownership and a generally improving economy are providing tailwinds for the pond industry, according to industry insiders, but growing competition and industry consolidation mean retailers have to stay nimble and evaluate their approach to the business.
The pond business is doing well, participants reported, with growing sales and more interest in pond
“With home ownership and remodeling on the rise, this hobby offers a great opportunity to introduce
new consumers to the beauty of an outdoor water feature,” said Sean Raines, director of aquatic marketing
product development for Tetra of Spectrum Brands—Pet, Home & Garden division in Blacksburg, Va.
“Consumers are also more willing to spend a little more on quality products.”
Business is good on the retail side, as well as in pond construction, retailers reported.
“We just moved to a new, much-larger location,” said Sean Gallaway, service and retail manager for
Aquatica Water Garden Shop in Wales, Wis. “Last year, we actually had a nice increase in retail [sales], so
we have a lot of nice goals that we’re going to be setting now. We’re doing great. We work with a lot of
landscapers with construction. Not a lot of landscapers want to get into building water features. We work
hand-in-hand with them doing that.”
With the average pond keeper leading an increasingly busy lifestyle, companies that offer maintenance
services are also doing well.
“People’s lives are busy, and they don’t want to have the upkeep of a pond,” said John Ohling, owner
of Suncoast Water Gardens in Spring Hill, Fla. “For most average-sized ponds, we charge $55 a month,
and we come by twice a month and keep their ponds looking great. I have more than 80 customers who
we do maintenance for every month.”
In line with the trend toward performing less maintenance themselves, customers are increasingly
interested in pondless water features, such as waterfalls.
“For those who don’t want plants, fish or the upkeep of a pond,
we put in pondless waterfalls, pondless streams—something that
has the sound of water without the pond, plants or fish,” Ohling
said, adding that he’s seen an increase in demand for these types of
Because pond keeping represents a heavy investment for many homeowners
and a deep interest in the hobby, retailers find themselves offering a very high
level of support to keep customers happy and returning for new products and
“I spend a great deal of time educating my clients so that they have
a better understanding of the hobby and so that they can make more
intelligent decisions,” said Miguel Cruz, owner of Redland Koi & Pond Co.
in Homestead, Fla.
Though some customers want to build their ponds themselves, often,
they’ll come into a retail location seeking advice, and end up hiring the
company to do the construction for them.
“Customers come for an education a lot of the time,” said John Ohling,
owner of Suncoast Water Gardens in Spring Hill, Fla. “They have a lot of
questions, and we’re more than happy to help them with those questions.
We even have a service for people who want to build their ponds themselves,
where we charge a $55-an-hour consultation fee.”
Often, however, once his customers do the math on the dollar savings of
doing it themselves, Ohling said, they decide to have their pond professionally
built and installed.
Having a well-informed, professional staff and a well-maintained
retail location helps project a professional, authoritative presence in the
hobby to customers.
“Besides quality livestock and supplies, a clean store with clean ponds
and educated store staff is indispensable,” said Claus Frenken, sales
manager for Sera North America in Montgomeryville, Pa. “In addition, offering
niche products that you cannot find in any big-box store really helps to bring
the customers back to your store regularly.”
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