Competing at Reptile Shows
PHOTO BY © CATHY KEIFER
their reputation and goodwill to stay
in business; many breeders are less
concerned with this.
Secondly, the shows are open
to anyone to sell. This means that
amateurs are in competition with
those whose living depends on making
a profit on their sales. Since amateurs
can price animals at whatever their
whim dictates, professionals are
forced into competition with them.
This creates bargain prices from the
buyers’ perspective, sure, but at
quite a cost to you and me. On top
of that, the quality and health of the
animals can be incredibly variable,
and that is to the buyers’ detriment,
to an extreme that cancels out the
“bargain” prices. In fact, I know of
certain unscrupulous vendors who
use the shows to dump unhealthy or
genetically problematic animals.
Thirdly, I am often amazed at
the lack of variety at the shows. I
have seen what seems like acres of
nothing but ball python morphs, corn
snake morphs, leopard gecko morphs
and bearded dragon morphs. This
is reinforced by the fact that many
shows, quite reasonably, require
that all animals sold be captive
bred. I have to imagine that a lot of
customers walk out disappointed
because of this.
In many senses, the occasional weekend live reptile expos that go n around the country have been the bane of brick-and-mortar retailers
since they first started occurring.
However, as they clearly are popular
with the public, well-attended and
omnipresent, they are now a reality of
the industry, and independent retailers
must learn to adjust and move forward.
I am going to start this article by listing
my litany of complaints with these shows
because this critique is something with
which you can engage customers across
the counter, encouraging them to think
twice before making purchases there.
First of all, these shows are
overwhelmingly attended by people
new to the hobby. They are often
dazzled by what they see and end up
spontaneously buying an animal they
have not researched and are little
prepared to handle. They walk out of
the show with a living thing for which
they have no proper caging or supplies
for or even a clue as to how to go about
acquiring these things. I find that very
few breeders have the time or patience
to educate a buyer about their new pet,
and since they know that once the show
is done the customers are gone and hard
to track down, they have no incentive
to spend that kind of time or effort.
Shops like yours and mine depend on
All For Show
While reptile shows might not be an instant moneymaker, savvy retailers can use them as valuable
marketing and bargain-shopping opportunities.
By Owen Maercks