A plan that’s all wet
As Craig McBride pulled up his sleeve and plunged his hand into a tank of saltwater, the blue spotted sting ray did not flicker from its partially hidden spot in the sand. The banded cat shark, however, moved swiftly to the back of the container.
While interacting with these tropical creatures is risky for most, it’s second nature to the 23-year-old. In fact, McBride and partner Jim Roznos, also 23, are well schooled in almost everything aquatic.
At the beginning of the month, the young duo opened the only all-fish store in western Nevada County – All Aquatics. The small shop, located at 218 E. Main St. in Grass Valley, houses two walls of colorful saltwater and freshwater fish along with aisles of products to outfit tanks for the home or office, and ponds.
Their work in setting up and servicing fish tanks for others helped lead to the creation of the store.
“We needed a warehouse,” Roznos said.
For both men, the love of fish – and education – began at a young age when they received fish as pets. Their fishbowls inspired them to hang out at aquarium stores.
“It was addictive,” McBride said.
He was so hooked that the topic of one third-grade paper was about future aspirations of owning a fish store. Roznos’ love of fish inspired dreams of becoming a marine biologist.
Both men worked for pet stores as soon as they were old enough, they said. Roznos worked at Mickey’s in Truckee, then later at Incredible Pets. McBride began at a Grass Valley aquarium store no longer in business, then moved on to The Pet Mine, where he worked with fish.
Eventually, both men began servicing tanks for people on request. They would clean, maintain and troubleshoot home and business aquariums.
All Aquatics’ humble beginnings consisted of a bucket, hose and handful of customers. Roznos and McBride now service tanks for about 150 clients.
The saltwater tank at Walker’s Office Supplies, for example, was designed and styled by McBride.
“It’s been great. We get so many compliments on it,” Walker’s buyer Deana Gold said.
All Aquatics has serviced the tank since its creation 21Ú2 years ago and has done a good job of keeping new and interesting fish stocked in it, Gold said.
When Louise Ivy was ready to change from a freshwater to a saltwater tank in her Grass Valley home, there was only one man for the job, she said.
McBride, who had serviced her fresh water tank for years, custom designed a 150-gallon saltwater tank to act as a room divider at her house, she said.
The large aquarium gives Ivy and her husband, both avid scuba divers, the feel of being under water. The knowledge All Aquatics has is valuable to Ivy as a customer, who does not need to worry about her tank.
“If I ever have a problem, (McBride) is there within an hour,” she said.
McBride and Roznos have gathered their knowledge from years of hanging out with others who have been in the business, trade shows and books.
The store was the next progression in what McBride refers to as “baby steps” on the road to a self-supporting business for the young men. Although they have both realized a dream by opening the store, the two men still work outside jobs to make ends meet.
They plan to continue expanding the business until it becomes self-supporting. Eventually, they want All Aquatics to be a large-scale store, offering county residents everything available in larger markets, such as Sacramento.
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