For a new breeder, vending at a reptile show can be an important step in the process of becoming an expert. Vending at a show is an easy way to sell multiple reptiles in one day and also an opportunity to be perceived as a knowledgeable member of the herp community. A successful and enjoyable experience at a show depends on knowledge of what to expect and a good amount of advance preparation:
Know Your Show
If possible, it is a good idea to have attended the show at which you hope to vend. While there, pay attention to which types of reptiles are being sold and how they are priced. How much competition will you have at this show from vendors who are selling the same kind of reptile? How does the quality of your animals compare to those at the show? Which tables and vendors seem to attract customers and which do not? If you know someone who is vending at the show, see if you can spend some time at the table to get a sense of what customers want to know. You should come away from the show with an idea about how you might set up your table and price your stock when you are ready to vend.
Fulfill the Requirements
Be sure to obtain the vendor information about the show where you plan to vend. This information should be available at the show website or through the show promoters. Be sure to obtain any permits required and to complete any paperwork by the due date. Pay attention to the cost and size of the table you will be provided at the show, the availability of electric outlets, set-up times, parking and unloading information and any rules which may affect your plans. Some shows require the vendor to collect sales tax or to provide specific materials to the buyer such as a receipt. Be sure to obtain what you will need in advance.
People who attend a reptile show are usually focused on the animals or supplies which they plan to buy. As a vendor, you must also be sure to have everything you need for displaying and selling your livestock and supplies. Make a list of all materials you will require for setting up the table, containing and labeling your stock, negotiating and completing the sale. Some examples of items not commonly considered include: cash for making change, receipts and any other forms required, a cash box, Purell or other hand-washing product, business cards, writing implements, lunch if you don’t plan to purchase food at the show.
Keep it Simple
For a first time vendor there is no need to spend lavishly on banners or fancy displays, although it is important to have your business name displayed prominently. This can be done with a poster display on the table or a sign at the front of the table. One inexpensive and space-saving alternative is to purchase a vinyl table cloth and adhesive vinyl letters. The business name can then be applied to the table cloth so that it hangs over the front of the table.
Prepare for Customers
There is no way to anticipate every customer interaction that may occur, but it’s useful to consider some situations that might arise: requests for a deal on the price of inventory, customer questions about husbandry or supplies, customers to whom you don’t feel comfortable selling a living creature. As a vendor, you should be knowledgeable about all aspects of care for the reptiles you sell, but there is no shame in admitting to not knowing the answer to a question, especially if you are willing to do some research and contact the person at a later date. It is similarly uncomfortable to have to deal with a customer whose ability you question to adequately care for a reptile. Thinking of potential responses, even role-playing the situation with a friend can be useful preparation.
Vending at a show is hard work, but it should be fun. If you are properly prepared, you should end the show with a lower inventory, money in your pocket and anticipation for the next show.