I visited Nolan's today because they were a huge part of mine/my mom's first tank. Overall I'd give them a 75% and, unfortunately, it's probably one of the best fish stores in Polk County.
It's relatively difficult to see on the side of the road because, despite being bright yellow, it's near other yellow buildings too. Here I've captured JUST Nolan's if anyone else goes looking for it.
Next to the parking lot they have what looks to be a plant/pond aquaculturing thing going on. If I knew anything about freshwater and plants and ponds, I bet this would make a good place to stop by. It looked cool to me.
When you first enter, I have to say it has a very "warehouse-y" feel. To the left you see shelves and large spaces of Dry Goods. This ranges from tanks to sumps, chemicals to food, decorations and even repltiles. I was a bit impressed by how big it was though the objects seemed to be roughly gathered in areas. There would be chemicals in one spot, and then more in another, and tanks on the warehouse side and also on the fishstore side (perhaps the warehouse-side designated Used tanks? Or tanks they were going to clean up and make for sale?)
But if you look to the right of the door, you get the traditional Fishstore feel. Buckets of dry rock to dig through, decorations, scrapers, pumps, food, chemicals, for-sale tanks setups, light fixtures and of course, display tanks and live animals.
Don't worry! This picture DOES NOT show all of the tanks they have for animals. They have about 3 or 4 more rows like this but it's set up in a sort of maze. There was one point that I thought I discovered a secret room
but realized I had just gotten disoriented and was in a neighboring aisle that didn't have the same entrance
(actually had some really interesting fish for the "normal" fish they had. Like a clownfish with a deformation that made it look like it had a dorsal spike or a horn, and a BEAUTIFUL goby that dashed under the coral as I tried to take a picture
This is their coral tub. It's one mass of corals with some pricing on the side in Expo or something.
Because all the corals are so close to each other and because of the vauge Expo descriptions, it made it really hard to determine which coral was priced what. Especially since they had one pricing for all of the "feather duster" coral in the tank (regardless of size it seemed). Maybe they negotiate the price once you pick one you want out and get the employees to retrieve it?
- Thier layout is a bit disjunct. You have to cross the store to look at the entire selections of a single items. Like chemicals or decorations. And it's a fairly big store...
- The holding tanks for selling fish weren't the best. Too many fish in too small a space or unclear pricings were distracting.
- I can't really say that their staff was that knowledgable and honestly, I would totally understand if that's the reason they're looking to hire. I worked with some guy who I asked some questions and he didn't know probably half of them to which he consulted some guy named Joe. This happened 3 or 4 times before I realized Joe's probably the only one worth talking to at the store for saltwater. On questions we didn't consult Joe for, he would give me a basic answer but... not really the answer that I was looking for. And he also tried to ask another coworker one of my questions and the following conversations ended in me thinking "Seriously? Are you two guessing at the information you're giving me or do you know? Oh good, they're going to ask Joe. Why do they work here?"
- Joe is amazing though. Really knowledgable about systems, nice guy, explained to me why This was better than That, said "but if you're overall aiming to do such-and-such, this would really be a lot cheaper" which is ALWAYS an amazing quality in stores. I also went off again to wander the stores and later heard Joe tell the guy I was originally working with "Does she need help with anything else? I know you already talked to her but go check up on her." He really seems to care. I'm not sure if he's from the old direction or brought in for a new direction, but I hope the store moves more in his direction.
- Joe offered to customize a used sump system I was looking at which was really nice! And he was going to adjust the price of it because I didn't want part of what was included! Great customer service!
- They had a so-so selection for saltwater animals and only too-big-too-expensive corals for my level. But had quite a large selection for freshwater. I would almost say this store is more of a freshwater store but I unfortunately did not talk to any of the freshwater people. Definietly good with ponds though!
- Their pricing was decent. They were the same prices that you find online which is great because I don't have to play the ~Is it cheaper to buy it in the store or online after shipping?~ game. And Joe (who Im guessing has similar views as the owner) was talking about how they try to bring in items for ALL their customers including those with money and those without while still getting good products. He almost sold me on a new lighting set similar to Marineland's LEDs but about half the price! (I actually still might get those...)
And now, random pictures:
Party with the turtle clan?
Or romantic dinner?
Yo! Expensive live rock
This was probably the only freshwater shot I got. It's a random room way on the opposite side of the store from the other tanks. Don't know why...