Nestled among the lakes and forests of Wisconsin’s wild north, Rhinelander-based online retailer LiveAquaria has been a reef and marine aquarium livestock powerhouse for decades. LiveAquaria started in Dayton, Ohio at Pet Warehouse in 2000, where renowned aquarist Kevin Kohen spearheaded the architecture, site navigation, functionality, and content creation as the team launched the site offering marine fish, cleaner crews and corals direct to consumer.
Kohen moved to Rhinelander when Dr. Race Foster and Dr. Marty Smith of Drs. Foster & Smith purchased Pet Warehouse, where LiveAquaria continued to grow. With the retirement of the DFS founders and the sale of the company to Petco, LiveAquaria found itself under new ownership in 2015. While Petco officially closed all of the Rhinelander-based Drs. Foster & Smith operations in early 2019, the LiveAquaria brand and operations continued.
Now, in the midst of a pandemic, what started as a rumor has now been confirmed. An official statement furnished by Petco representatives on the evening of July 15th, 2020, acknowledges the sale of Petco’s LiveAquaria.com business to an undisclosed third party.
Official Petco Statement
“Petco has entered into an agreement to sell its LiveAquaria business to an independent aquatics company for an undisclosed amount. As part of our ongoing transformation and in response to shifting consumer preferences, this change allows us to further streamline Petco’s e-commerce operations and better focus on our core business and customer.
“The sale is scheduled to close in late July and affects approximately 60 employees, who have been notified and will retain employment with LiveAquaria under the new ownership. We greatly appreciate the great work and dedicated service of the entire LiveAquaria team and wish them continued success in their business moving forward.”
A Message from Rhinelander
Mirroring the official Petco release, Kohen, a MASNA Award-winning aquarist and the man who has overseen and grown LiveAquaria for two decades, released a similar statement. Kohen’s statement provides a few more details regarding the future of LiveAquaria and his involvement in the next chapter of the business.
“As LiveAquaria celebrates its 20th Anniversary, we want to take this opportunity to share important news to you, our loyal and valued LiveAquaria customers:
“Petco has entered into an agreement to sell LiveAquaria to an independent company who is eager to take our brand to exciting new levels! The sale is scheduled to close in late July. The entire LiveAquaria team at our headquarters in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, will continue in their same positions and roles with the new organization.
“My role as LiveAquaria Director continues and increases as a stakeholder with the new ownership group. I am very excited to help lead our dedicated and passionate team to new levels. We look forward to an exciting future as we pursue new and innovative ways to ensure you, our valued customers, receive the best customer service, brand-name products, and the highest quality aquatic life you’ve grown accustomed to with LiveAquaria®.
“Again, thank you for your loyal patronage.” – Kevin Kohen, LiveAquaria Director
Clearly, we may have to wait a few weeks to learn more about the changes to come for LiveAquaria.
Watch: LiveAquaria’s Kevin Kohen shares a personal message to customers earlier in July, as LiveAquaria celebrates its 20th Anniversary