I was driving home from work the night of April 13, 2012. It was a beautiful spring Friday, I just finished filming at Times Square with my crew and couldn't wait to get home. All day long I'd been super excited about a new spawn of Thai Ranchus that just hatched that week. It was the biggest batch I've had since I started giving away goldfish on Craigslist in 2009.
I knew I didn't wanna keep dipping in to my savings maintaining so many goldfish. I was already spending a lot on food, utilities, equipment and even a "fish-sitter" whenever I'm out of the country. So that night as I was going through traffic I decided I'd start selling them online in June or July when they're a little bigger and the funds would go towards their upkeep. I wanted a brandname that had easy recall. Something that immediately gave the audience an idea what it's about (ranchu/goldfish) and where the source is from (east coast). The next day April 14, 2012 I set up a Facebook page, an eBay store, a YouTube channel, and a PayPal account. On April 19th I bought the domain eastcoastranchu.com.
I wake up everyday doing something I love and enjoy and it's the coolest thing.
With the advent of Social Media sharing platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, I've stepped away from the old-school methods of goldfish selling and implemented a slightly different approach to an otherwise faceless, and more often impersonal online audience. I know there's a price to pay for doing things differently and pushing the boundaries. Some people won't like it but East Coast Ranchu has done well despite being distinct from other online goldfish stores. I owe all that to 2 diverse generations of goldfishkeepers.
This isn't just another mainstream goldfish store. Over the years I've introduced several contemporary concepts in the goldfish trade.
I was an early adapter, the first Goldfish Store to sell on Facebook (2012)
I really wanted to leverage the power of Social Media and create a newer customer experience. The ECR website is intended to be very structured, and practical but the FB page allowed me to connect to modern-day goldfish hobbyists in real time and build relationships with other hobbyists. While everyone else was still gathering in the fishkeeping forums and goldfish shows, Facebook paved the way for more interaction and ECR engagement. By showcasing goldfish I sold on FB, people got a chance to comment on the goldfish, "hang out" with me and participate with other goldfishkeepers. Over time, more and more hobbyists switched to the FB platform including other goldfish sellers. Ultimately FB helped ECR with brand retention, but as it evolved FB's business algorithm made it harder for ECR content to reach the maximum number of followers. They were capping the Goldfish Store viewership to just 10% of ECR followers where it used to be 100%. Continuing unpredictable changes and premium advertising costs made trading on FB less viable in the long term so eventually I had to transition all current sales operation to this website. ECR roots started there (I won't forget) and still maintains an FB presence to this day.
first to include INDIVIDUAL videos of goldfish for sale
first to include Care History Information with each goldfish sold
These info sheets contained vital care history information related to each fish that addressed critical buyer questions. Before I started selling, I used to buy goldfish from other stores and breeders but I had many questions regarding the care history. I hated bothering the seller with numerous emails. So when it was my turn to sell - I knew it was necessary to include this with every sale.
first to introduce the Ranchu Baby Starter Kit
first store to commercially ship live goldfish with Kordon Breather Bags
In 2012, when ECR first came into the scene a lot of people have never even heard of breather bags. Some old-fashioned customers berated me saying that I should "educate" myself on traditional live fish packaging. Most sellers at the time used regular shipping bags while others used a rudimentary & unsuccessful approach to breather bag shipping. But I'm a non-conformist and prefer advanced/progressive concepts. I've been using Breather Bags since day 1. There's a complex science related to the modified technique, materials and packaging style I use which is proprietary only to ECR. This is why ECR has a 99.9% shipping success rate. Nowadays, you'll most likely see new goldfish sellers doing derivative versions of this shipping method.
first to solicit Goldfish Unboxing Videos from buyers
first goldfish store account established on Instagram (2013)
first to offer Free Goldfish Giveaways on Social Media.
This has been my way of giving back to the community of goldfishkeepers who have supported ECR through the years. I've been giving away free goldfish on Social Media with my holiday promotions since I started the ECR Instagram account.
first to commercially breed American Blue Ranchus in the US
I've been working on this line for over 5 years. The first batch is now available to Repeat Customers who signed up for the ECR Loyalty Program. I'm growing out a younger batch which will be available to the public in 2018.
first to Live Stream videos of Goldfish for sale (April 2016)