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Thread: How to choose a dealer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    How to choose a dealer

    Hi All,

    Laurie and I are writing an article for our Club's Koi Health Advisor column on how to select a koi dealer. We would like to include as many relevant factors as possible. What advice would you give a hobbyist who asked you this question?

    Please do NOT mention dealer names as we are not trying to single anyone out for the good or the bad qualities. We are just interested in how you value quarantine policy/ facilities, quality of koi, proximity to your home, price, etc.

    Thanks in advance! I will post the article when it is complete on our club website.

    Home Page

  2. #2
    Tategoi The Pond Digger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Redlands, California

    I'll start it off.

    KHV Testing...........

    The Pond Digger

  3. #3
    Jumbo l113892's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    louisville, ky usa
    1) Years of experience
    3) have them describe their quarantine protocol- how many days, are different stocks separated, blood serology performed, heat cycling, parasite identification/treatment- shotgun treatment? What parasite treatments were used?
    3) have them tell you where they get their stock a) Japanese stock only b) domestic stock c) stock from Asian countries
    4) who are the people you respect in the hobby- where do they get their fish?
    5) fish health policy upon arrival, guarantees, etc. What heppens if the fish arrives with a sore- right out of the bag?
    6) are you buying fish from a picture? How much support did the dealer provide in helping you with your selection? Did they try to force a specific fish on you?
    7) if the fish is air shipped to you; what shipping method do they use? Is there a handling charge? who pays the freight; is it added to the price- prepaid? do the fish arrived double bagged; triple bagged; "good" rubber bands; what is the box quality; cold packs included if needed?
    8) can they guarantee the sex of the fish if it old enough/ large enough? What if it is mis-sexed?

    Should the hobbyist buy from multiple dealers and find the one they like best or buy from just one dealer for health reasons?
    Mike Pfeffer
    Northern Midwest ZNA show
    June 19 - 20, 2010
    Season's Garden Nursery
    Fishers, IN

  4. #4
    Jumbo 111whalen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Fountain Valley, CA
    Not mixing fish from different breeders/dealers.
    Keeping nets and tubs isolated to different tanks on the premises.
    Sharing the certificate on the testing.
    Working with the customer if a problem arises.

  5. #5
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Portland, Oregon
    Hi Peter & Laurie, here is my list of criteria that I look for in a dealer, in order of most to least important:

    1. Trust/Honesty - dealer is upfront about a particular koi, including any known defect/deformity, its age, sex if known (if not, then just say the probability of female or male), breeder, etc. Once I find out that the dealer is misleading or untrustworthy then it's difficult to build that dealer/buyer relation.

    2. Knowledge - dealer needs to know everything about the koi and its history, including the breeder and possibly parent set that the koi came from. Also, the best dealers are the ones that I feel I have learned something from, someone who is willing to teach and share their knowledge.

    3. Time/Patience - dealer takes the time to answer any questions that you may have. He/she does not try to sell you something. Rather, when you tell them that you are looking for a particular koi, he/she presents you with all of the options and gives you time to look over them.

    4. Fairness/Indiscrimination - dealer treats you with fairness regardless of whether you are a rookie or a veteran in the hobby. He/she doesn't discriminate you based on your ethnic/financial/economical background.

    5. Passion - dealer is passionate in what he/she does. This is very easily discernable and it's always more fun to work with dealers who love what they do than dealers who are trying to make a quick buck from you. I know that it's a business, but some just enjoy their business more than others :-)!

    6. Quarantine - I feel that if all of the above criteria are met then the koi safety measures are there, including quarantining protocol/procedures, shipping safety measures such as double bagging, on-time arrival, arrival follow-up, etc.

    As far as distance is concerned, I think that it's not that important of an issue once that dealer/buyer relationship is there. While it's important to physically be present to look at a purchase, if the trust is there then I feel more comfortable with the dealer's recommendation if I can't be there.

    As for pricing, I think that it really depends on the buyer's wallet thickness and interest/level in the hobby. I know that there are dealers who deal with high-end koi while others deal with low-end koi and then there are ones that just seem to have a mix of everything.

    In terms of quality of koi, it's nice to have good quality from reputable breeders. Anyways, hope this helps. Can't wait to read it in our monthly newsletter!

  6. #6
    Daihonmei aquitori's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    NorCal Biotch!!!
    Choosing a dealer is like learning koi, one must experience and build a "trusting" relationship and get a feel for who you are buying from. There are some dealers with the experience and some without.

    Now would you buy a $15,000 koi from someone who has been in the hobby less than 10 years, been only a dealer less than 2 and has never been to Japan to select fish? Kind of hard to believe for most but those types of dealers are out there....

  7. #7
    MCA is offline
    Honmei MCA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    The consumer has to sort our selection criteria differently if the dealer is local (where you can go see the fish, the facilities, observe business practices and probably talk to more of the clientele.

    But outside a few areas of the country (like CA), where are there one or more great dealers to go see...in less than a 3 hour drive? So you may end up purchasing fish from a dealer mostly via email and lots of trust.

    Then there are the auction sites....

  8. #8
    Tategoi smithvillemike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Smithville, Texas
    Don't forget customer service... how responsive is the dealer to your questions and concerns. Not only before the sale but after the sale also.


  9. #9
    Jumbo jnorth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    It's not easy....and that should be your first line in your article. There are so many bad dealers out there that to a newbie it is easy for them to get the wool pulled over their eyes. Speaking from a "I show koi" point of view one thing to do is to pay attention to where the winning koi come from. Then get to know some of their customers and find out from them what they like and don't like. Then it's time to visit the dealer. See for yourself how they are. Don't buy any koi the first time you go there. Maybe not even the second or third time. A good dealer will treat you good every time you visit even if you haven't bought anything. On the flip side don't waste their time either. Decide after a few vivsits if you like them or not and either move on or decide to become their customer. Basically do your homework first and then buy.
    My personal koi page Updated 7/8/07
    ZNA Potomac Koi Club

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    El Cajon, CA
    There are two dealers that I prefer because they have always been friendly and a comfortable relationship has developed. But they simply don't always have what I'm looking for, or haven't been able to locate it in Japan (which is not saying I have a phenomenal collection or anything). So I buy from multiple dealers. Some as a last resort. On one reputable dealer's fish I have now received ich once, costia once, and bacterial gill disease once, all of which I've taken care of in quarantine. I've never mentioned it to the dealer, and I still shop there.

    Do I recommend shopping from multiple dealers?--Not at all. However, illnesses are a part of the hobby. If you owned 20 dogs, you'd be at the vet a couple times every year; so it makes dollars and sense to try and become your own vet. You need a microscope and to be comfortable anesthetizing and scraping--it's just part of the deal. Quarantine is a must. Injections are do-able. Centrifuges are cheap and drawing blood isn't so hard either. And it can be fun building the confidence to handle health issues. Even if you stick with one dealer, placing complete trust in their protocols can be a big mistake. Be prepared.

    Now, getting the proper value for your money, that's a whole separate thing.

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