I agree. I also remember the Maidenhead one (it was on King Street) and then the first one in Bourne End, which seemed like an aquatic superstore at the time.I remember when Maidenhead Aquatics was just a single shop near the centre of Maidenhead. I’m probably going back to some time in the eighties. They were nothing short of a revelation; in those days, most aquatic shops were pretty dire, and MA were the first shop to have a pretty high-tech centralised filtration system serving the whole shop, and the quality and health of their fish was amazingly good.
Then a few years later they opened an outlet in Bourne End garden centre, which I presume was their first franchise. Again, the model was the same: a centralised filtration system with excellent health and quality. And the business has grown exponentially, to the point where it’s almost difficult to find an aquatic shop that isn’t a branch of MA.
I personally think it’s easy to forget how bad most aquatic shops were back in those early days, and I really believe that MA are responsible for revolutionising the quality that we now expect from all aquatic stores, who have had no choice but to up their game. It’s certainly true that there has been some dilution of the quality that defined those first few outlets, but I think that’s inevitable.
It’s easy to criticise, but I really believe we should thank MA for raising the standards and the expectations for aquatic shops in this country.