The market is flooded for many gecko species, the economy is not at its best, yet more and more people are eager to try breeding their pets. Despite this grim scenario, it is possible to sell geckos. Having good communication skills, reasonable expectations, the ability to think creatively and to work hard are assets that will help fulfill the goal of selling the hatchlings you produce.
Considerations Before Selling
This section should more accurately be called “considerations before breeding”. It’s important, especially for a new breeder, not to produce such a large number of geckos that they cannot be easily sold. A new breeder has no reputation to back him or her up and will consequently be less successful at selling geckos identical to those of an established, reputable breeder. Start small, with a limited breeding population. (More information is available in the Gecko Time article Breeding on a Small Scale). Although there may be an advantage to selling less common gecko species, there is also a smaller market for them since fewer people will be equipped to care for them. It may seem that other breeders are your competition; they are also your allies. Maintaining good business relations with other breeders will benefit you in the long run since reputations can be made or broken by word of mouth. One way to stay on the good side of other breeders is to avoid pricing your geckos significantly below market value. This is by no means illegal, but the short term benefit you may reap will be offset by the poor reputation you will have with other breeders.
Educate when Selling
A responsible animal seller considers the health and well-being of the animals to be more important than making a sale at any cost. There are customers who clearly should not own a live animal. Others haven’t made a final decision about whether they want to own a reptile and may ultimately regret it if they’re pushed into a purchase they are unsure about. An approach that focuses on educating potential customers about the needs of the gecko and their responsibility to provide for it may result in a decision to delay the purchase, but you will be remembered for your integrity and will most likely be contacted when the customer is ready to take the plunge. Many people will express interest in buying a gecko from you and never follow through. This may seem disappointing but communicating with them and answering their questions is a worthwhile activity and will only extend your networking range.
There are many ways to actively sell geckos. When deciding which to pursue, weigh the amount of time and energy you need to invest against the likelihood of getting the result you desire:
Common Selling Techniques
- Word of mouth and networking are valuable ways to make sales. Talk to everyone you meet — friends, neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues– about your gecko venture. Follow up on any suggestion they make about other people to contact. It often turns out that a friend of a friend of a friend is interested in buying a new gecko.
- Reptile shows are the best way to sell a number of geckos at once because most people who attend are there for the express purpose of buying something. It may even be worth it to travel several hours in order to vend at a show because of the number of geckos you may sell (see Gecko Time’s How to Vend at Your First Reptile Show). If you have been networking successfully, there may even be people that you’ve contacted who are coming to the show primarily to meet you and buy a gecko from you.
- Advertise on the Gecko related forums in which you are involved (if you are not involved with an online gecko forum, consider checking them out). This will most likely require you to be prepared to ship within your country. In the United States, check out www.shipyourreptiles.com for good shipping rates, supplies and detailed instructions about how to ship.
- Advertise locally: put up fliers on vet office bulletin boards, local schools and other places where people congregate. Include a picture of the type of geckos you sell as well as contact information.
- Develop a website to advertise your geckos. This does not need to be a polished, expensive business venture. At its most basic, the website functions as a place online to direct people so they can see what you have without your having to email them pictures and instructions on an individual basis. You don’t even need to buy a domain name. A good place to start is with a blog site such as WordPress to which you can add pictures, news and care sheets.
- Sell your geckos through a pet store. The large chain pet stores don’t buy from individual breeders. Use the internet to get a list of all non-chain pet stores in your area. Go to visit them “incognito” and if you like what you see, find out if they’re interested in some of your geckos. Be prepared to sell to pet stores for less than you sell for on your own. If they don’t need geckos when you approach them, leave them your business card and contact information.
Less Traditional Selling Ideas
These are all ideas I have either tried or contemplated. For the most part they don’t take much effort and the return is not very great either, though they are all good networking tools:
- Consider donating a gecko to a good cause like a science room or something similar. It gets you more free publicity and potential sales as the students interact with the gecko at their school.
- Put together and sell gecko set-ups. First-time gecko buyers are more likely to buy if they can get the habitat along with the gecko. This is also a good way to insure that the gecko you sell will have proper housing. Set-ups can be assembled using new and lightly used components which you can acquire from yard sales, craigslist, ebay and other similar sources.
- If you are active on the Gecko forums, contact new members who live in your area. You can welcome them and let them know that you are a gecko supplier living near them.
- Scrutinize craigslist — the “pet” section and the “for sale/wanted” section. You can search in the “for sale” and the “pet” sections separately for ads containing the word “gecko” or “reptile”. There are often listings for reptile supplies at a good price and people advertising that they are looking for a reptile or a gecko. This has probably been my most effective tool during the past year even though the number of people who don’t reply to my inquiries is much greater than those who do. Remember that technically it is prohibited to sell animals on craigslist. I advertise my set-ups on craigslist and direct people to my website which is where the animal selling occurs. Respond to people asking questions about geckos. Try to maintain a positive attitude in your response even though you may, at times, be appalled by their misinformation.
- Get involved with your local herp society and participate in their swap meets or shows (or start a swap or show if they don’t already have one).
- Have a “gecko yard sale”. Advertise in your local paper and put your geckos on display with set-ups and care information.
Ideally, you will succeed in selling most or all of the geckos you have produced in a given season. Before the new season begins, evaluate your previous one and think very carefully about how much and how fast you want to grow. Consider not only the number of geckos sold but also the expenses of their care, how much time you want to spend taking care of them and how much energy you want to expend in selling them during the new season.