Local aquarist Ethan Dickinson’s thoughts on how the pandemic is affecting small businesses and hobbyist
It’s easy to say that everyone is having a hard time right now as COVID-19 leaves many of us unsure of what the coming weeks hold. Small businesses are especially facing this uncertainty.
Many local businesses have had to shut down entirely during this to do their part in fighting the spread of the disease. Those are still open due to being deemed essential, are having no easy times though. Aquarist fanatic Ethan Dickinson has worked at Fish Mania, a local aquarium shop based in East Ridge, for 5 years now and is an integral part of its team. Despite their doors still being open, they are still feeling the effects of the pandemic.
“While our sales have stayed steady, many of our employers are no longer coming to work,” Ethan said. “We can’t blame them of course, but it’s hard to stay open with such a small staff.”
Fish Mania has taken many efforts to keep the shop safe, including limiting the number of customers allowed in at a time, constantly cleaning and disinfecting, and generally practicing social distancing. Business is still steady, but Ethan says that he has noticed a distinct change in purchasing patterns.
Ethan said that most of the people coming into the shop are now either coming to get supplies for their tanks at home or are people looking for something to do during this time who have decided to get into the hobby. Many people are no longer buying the more expensive items but are instead spending small amounts to set up their own small aquariums during this stressful time. This isn’t surprising, as there are many links between aquariums and stress relief.
“People are scared to spend money, but they also have the free time to start new hobbies,” Ethan said.” Buying a small setup and a Neon Tetra for just $3.99 can bring some comfort and happiness.”
In the long run, Ethan thinks that this will not hurt the aquarist community in Chattanooga too much, but could have the effect of changing the way hobbyist make their setups and where they get their supplies. Ethan said that during this time when many major businesses are closed and shipping has become more difficult, having small local businesses like Fish Mania to meet needs is essential and that he believes people will see that and be more willing to support locals.
“Support your local businesses. Whether its a restaurant, or a hobbyist shop, or whatever, support the local businesses you love so that we can stay open and be there to help when this is over.”
Make sure to keep supporting local businesses like Fish Mania during this time and to find ways to stay upbeat by finding new ways to get creative, like getting a new hobby! Make sure to go follow Ethan on Instagram, @ethans_aquatics, and to check out the Chattanooga Aquatics Club that he has founded!