Do Auctions Damage the Reptile Industry?

Justin Kobylka – 2/25/14

Note: This article deals with the inner workings of the reptile industry and more specifically the Ball Python market. I’m not writing this as a judgement to those named or unnamed. It is my intention to explore this topic and its pros and cons. At the end of this article please take the time to read some counter points by Mike Wilbanks posted in the comments section.

There’s a trend afoot in the reptile business where private breeders are using auctions to sell their snakes. This initially sprung up on Facebook where a seller would post an animal photo and allow bidders to place their bids below. Several people found success by amassing a great number of people watching their FB page and sold mostly low-end animals. These auctions were typically a situation where a reptile wholesaler would purchase or consign excess animals from breeders and auction them for a profit. Ben Seigel’s auctions have been dominating this space. Often animals even approach or exceed retail pricing in bidding wars before the auction closes.

When this started I viewed it as mostly harmless to the industry as a whole. Mostly these were low-demand, inexpensive animals. Breeders were selling the animals to this 3rd party for a negotiated price that they were comfortable with. They were happy, the middle-man (auctioneer) would have a margin and the customer would receive a great deal.

This began to change though as larger breeders started supplying these auctions from the background with more and more valuable animals.

auction_10_10_13Private breeders began to offer auctions of their own, direct to their fans of their Facebook page. Initially, breeders were giving their customers a chance to get a good deal and at the same time move out some excess animals that were either low demand or not important to their breeding plans. I also tried this and saw no harm in it. I offered a couple dozen auctions over my Facebook page, one per week. These were animals that I considered either low demand, or sometimes it was just to give an opportunity for bidders to get a deal.

I stopped doing auctions after a few months because it just didn’t feel right to me to on one hand to sell an animal at retail pricing, then the next day offer a similar animal to the highest bidder.

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 11.15.55 PMSoon this trend of breeders using FB auctions began to widen. Several larger-name breeders began auctioning medium and high-end animals at low or no-reserve auctions. Two of these on my FB feed are Matt Lerer and Loxahatchee Herp Hatchery. Many of the animals auctioned are not yet common and are still in a phase where the small guy can legitimately make money producing them.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 8.25.46 PMFurthermore, Dan Wolfe (who is retiring from the industry) has been liquidating portions of his collection via FB auction, selling snakes for pennies on the dollar compared to his previous asking prices. Presumably these same projects were sold at full price in the months prior to his retirement announcement.

I’ve been watching auctions closely over the past few months and even closer while writing this piece. I’ve seen many times that with good participation, animals will auction for even more than standard industry pricing. As long as the audience for the auction is sufficiently large, Auctions can work quite well for animals that are both in high demand and relatively affordable. Coral Glows / Bananas for example have been consistently doing very well at auction, simply because they are a fantastic mutation that has a large market demand and are affordable to many people.

Taking the Auction trend off Facebook:

The most recent development is the dedicated reptile auction site, Reptile Ring (previously Reptile Bay).

fbquote

Reptile Ring creator, Mike Wilbanks, states that FB auction success is why he launched the site. In my research on this topic, I spoke with Mike at length about his site and its goals.

This newest iteration offers a dedicated site to those interested in reptile auctions, instead of using the Facebook platform. This helps on technical grounds, by bringing more bidders to a single site for auctions. Its a positive step forward, because it conglomerates traffic and keeps the auctions in view to bidders.

Breaking it down:

about_02

JKR Vending one of our first Reptile Expos in 2006

Where auctions can disrupt the market is on higher-end animals that have either not yet garnered enough public interest yet or are more expensive. It may force a sale at a time when there may be few or no customers in the market at retail pricing. These premium auctions can directly damage the seller’s customers. It affect both the buyers and the health of the industry as a whole.

Here’s why: The stable breeder industry only exists because many buyers purchase animals in the hopes that they can reproduce them and sell them, either for profit or to cover the expenses of their hobby. Those of us who are professionals in the industry have a responsibility to maintain a market on investment animals, or we have no business asking our customer’s money.

Why can these supposedly valuable animals sell so cheaply at auction?

Auctioning high-end animals exacerbates long-standing issues within our industry. Premium and rare mutations and combos have a narrower market than $100 pet snakes. Selling a high-end animal requires a buyer who has two components. They must have both the desire to buy a particular mutation and the financial means to do so. The person who will buy your $6k or $10k mutation may not be in the market at any given time. They may be looking for a different mutation / combo, or they may not currently have the financial means. Maybe they’ve not decided which mutations to purchase.

dreamThis is true for any expensive product. For example your local Mercedes dealership depends on buyers who wants to buy a Mercedes specifically and has the means to do so. Mercedes will make a certain number of vehicles in a model year and they set a price, knowing that not all of them will sell in the first month. There will be a certain percentage of potential buyers who will come in each month until the new model is released.

The misunderstanding of this fact is the #1 cause for volatility in the high end Ball Python market. Let’s take a random example, let’s say an awesome new mutation comes out. So as not to step on anyone’s toes, we’ll call it the “hair ball”. Let’s say that the Hair has been on the market for a couple years and there are two initial breeders with this mutation and 3 other breeders have invested big money to purchase male Hair balls. So now there are 5 breeders who have them available this season, a total of 15 animals we’ll say.

What will likely happen is several of these breeders will offer animals to the market at the same time. There will be a couple of buyers in the market early on that will purchase them at asking price. After those people have purchased, it might be weeks, a month or more until other buyers who meet both criteria (have the means and desire to purchase) enter the market. During this time, the other sellers of this morph often incorrectly assume that the reason they can’t sell is because their price is too high. The reality is there may be 20 or more people in the market over the course of the season at the retail price, but at any given moment, there may be few or temporarily none.

So out of fear, they drop the price, tarnishing their own brand in the process, hurting their own pockets and the that of anyone who has already purchased the mutation, or will in the near future. Even worse, they may try to auction the animals in a market where there are temporarily no buyers at retail. No one will be more damaged than their own customers.

Auctioning a mutation who’s value has not yet been established: For a great mutation to have a full market cycle, it needs to have its value established before it’s offered to a wide market. Some mutations just simply don’t look like much by themselves, but are key to so many important future combos. Some of the most crucial genes in our industry were simply not game changers at first glance. I’m talking about Enchis, Vanillas, Fires, YB, Spotnose and even some the originals such as Hypos and Pastels. If a breeder decides to auction off a new subtle mutation before it has proven market value, the entire life cycle of that mutation is interrupted. It will sell for very little simply, because buyers will be taking a gamble as to what its future is. This is another irresponsible use of an auction. Breeders with a new gene should work to establish value, or sell privately to someone who will.

A case for buying direct from a breeder:

There are so many advantages to doing business the “old fashioned way”, direction patronizing a private breeder:

  1. You can choose a specific animal or group instead of building a collection based on a smattering of what may be available via auction.
  2. Customer service! Many of the well known breeders in this industry are not there by accident. They are there because they deliver high-quality animals and service after the sale. This is not replicated via an auction conglomeration site.
  3. By directly patronizing breeders that offer fantastic animals and service, it allows the best practices in the industry to succeed and create a better industry for tomorrow. Patronize the reptile industry that you wish to be a part of.
  4. Buying direct builds a relationship. Every successful breeder can point to someone else who helped them along the way. Patronizing quality breeders invests them in your success.

My conclusions:

  1. Auctions are here to stay, people clearly enjoy purchasing animals in this way.
  2. Auctions of lower-end or wide appeal animals with a great customer following are a legitimate marketing tool to sell snakes at solid pricing. I don’t see this as any more damaging than the classified ads that we are all used to.
  3. Auctions of higher-end, rare or investment animals may have a critical issue. They will force a sale at a time when there may be few or no customers in the market at retail pricing. These auctions can directly weaken the structure that allows us all to enjoy the breeder market on Ball Pythons.
  4. Auctions are not the ideal way to build a collection, because of gaps in availability and limited selection.
  5. Auctions aren’t as conducive to building a relationship with a breeder.

Responsible breeders have a commitment not only to their customers but to the industry as a whole. I will always seek to thoughtfully operate in a way that will not compromise the market that my customers are selling in.

I challenge my readers to please participate in the reptile market so as to promote its long-term health. Patronize breeders who are responsible with their sales, auctions or otherwise. Spend money with those who are working for the long-term success of their customers.

signature_crop

Justin Kobylka

PS. When I posted this article Mike Wilbanks asked for an opportunity to make some counter points. In the interest of a full conversation on this topic, please read his points in the comments below.

27 thoughts on “Do Auctions Damage the Reptile Industry?

  1. Counter points by Mike Wilbanks:

    First, I think this is a well written article with some valid points. Justin called me, we had a nice discussion and he represented my philosophy in an accurate way in his article. I asked him and he was very gracious to allow me to give a rebuttal or maybe that is too strong of a word, a slightly different perspective might be more accurate.

    I do believe that the auctions have had a negative impact on the market. I do not believe that auctions are inherently bad. After all, auctions are utilized as the primary method of selling the most expensive investment items known to man. It is the way in which they have have been fragmented all over FB that seems to be the main problem. Many times I hear about a morph that sold for way too little after it already sold.. Most of those times my follow up question is who and where? I never heard of them or I didn’t know they were even auctioning that animal. Most times I would have given more, but I did not even know the auction was happening. Herein lies the fundamental problem. Many breeders have egos. They want to have their own thing. FB empowered them to have their own thing. But is an auction the sort of thing that you want to be exclusive? I think that gathering as many buyers in one place as possible will give us higher bids as there is more competition and a more accurate gauge of what a true market price is.

    There is a thing that I think has been much more destructive to the market than auctions. That is breeders running classified advertisements, then when the ad is unsuccessful, the breeder drops the price and this cycle goes on and on. This practice falls directly under Justin’s argument where there may not be a buyer of a particular morph who possesses the ability to purchase at a particular time. The breeder interprets this as market weakness and lowers the price in an attempt to “force” a sale at a particular moment in time. Breeders have been doing this almost since the beginning. Just because an actual sale does not occur in this scenario does not really change the negative impact on the market. This practice might even have a more detrimental effect on the market in that people witness the non-sale and the breeder himself starts to lose faith because he did not conclude his advertisement with a positive outcome. So the cycle continues with a parade of breeders running classified ads competing with each other to see who can make an ad with the lowest price in order to “force” a sale.

    Worse, but still a variation of the continual price drops in classified advertisements is the 1.0 Hair Ball for $5000 OBO. This method has also brought us to this weakened state in the market. I believe it is the epitome of weakness to say OBO. It is like advertising that $5000 is not the real price, it is only a starting point for offers essentially to give the potential buyer a starting point to make an offer.

    Justin covered the problems with auctions quite well in his article. Now, let me explain my solution. Instead of sellers competing in a classified environment to see who can make the lowest price in order to force a sale, what if we had the buyers compete to see who would offer the most? This was the birth of ReptileRing. It was scary for me at first. Would I lose market share to less visible breeders who I was now giving a larger platform? I could have just started this site and kept it to myself and I would wager that I would have done quite well for myself. The main problem with that is it solves nothing for the market. The less visible breeders with less marketing and less time to market would still be damaging the market by insisting on running individual FB auctions with a small audience or classified ads with plummeting prices. My solution was to bring breeders together in one place where buyers could now compete to see who is willing to give the most instead of the traditional classifieds or FB offerings where sellers are competing to see which breeder is willing to sell for the smallest price. Do you see how the tables are turned when you analyze this plan against the backdrop of what is really happening out in the wild west of FB marketing?

    One more issue I have is the insinuation that if you buy from an auction that you are not buying direct from the breeder. I have assembled many top breeders with impeccable reputations for quality to participate in our auctions(if Justin joins we would have another one). When someone buys an animal that I have advertised on auction, they are buying from me. This purchase does not come with any less customer service and I am here to offer the customer the top level of service that I have built a reputation on. I only understand his argument about buying direct from the breeder in the context of the broker, meat market that many of the FB auctions have become. Even then many of the largest have built reputations for quality service. The only concern that I might have as a buyer from a broker auction is that they may simply not know the origin or the background of the animals they are auctioning. At ReptileRing, we are a coalition of breeders coming together to offer the same service but allowing the customers to compete with one another to see who values the animal the most. This site could actually save the market if there is enough participation. The level of acceptance by the market seems to be quite high. I am not naive enough to think that all of the market would move there but if it did, ReptileRing might be a savior of the market.

    Mike Wilbanks

  2. Postscript. This is anecdotal, but still I think it is a good point. Alex Barreiro was a customer of mine in the late 90s – early 2000s. We became friends and he went on to make a nice business. We ran into each other in Europe after a long period of losing touch. He had become more interested in boas and I became only a ball python guy. He joined Reptile Ring recently. I was thinking today about something that I did not anticipate when setting up the site. The breeders on the site are also customers. I might see something he has and try to win it and he might start buying from me. This ads another positive facet to us coming together. I never got on his FB or website so I never saw any of the animals he had to offer. He probably stopped visiting mine a long time ago, but we were always friends. With this group now coming together, I can see us doing some business with each other again. Back in the old days when Daytona was in its heyday, getting a vendor badge was valuable because we did most of our business with the other breeders vending at the show. Reptile shows are still like this in a small way today. Many of my best sales are to other breeders vending at the show. This coalition of breeders on ReptileRing puts us in one place where we will accidentally see the other breeder’s ads. This will cause sales between us and upward pressure on prices simply because we are putting our animals in front of one another. We, the breeders, are some of the most hard core buyers around because this is our business or certainly a hobby that we derive significant income from.

    • I would like to say as some one who is new to keeping ball pythons, and snakes in general, that i think the auction sites are something i am excited about and scared to death of. i get excited that though i live in a small town south of San Antonio Texas that i might be able to buy a snake that is bread in places far from my home. i get excited that it might be a snake that i would only see as “sold” on breeders web pages which typically are very outdated from what i have seen (some don’t take down the sold ones for months). I get excited that i could buy a snake that isn’t from the pet monger box stores like “COMART”. i fear that i will over pay for a snake, but that happens to any one who is new in a hobby and isn’t doing enough looking around. i fear of some kind of accident in shipping which really scares me as i live out of town and ups/fedex have a tendency to not even enter my drive way because they are to chicken or to unable to do their job and leave packages at the gate on trash pickup days like idiots. i fear that i wont be there the moment its there and a coyote might snack on my prized new pet. but i don’t fear that i will get a bad snake avoiding the idiots at ups and fedex. i view these things though generally as a positive. for some one like me to be able to go to one site and see many breeders animals with out having to spend 5 hours looking online for people’s websites which are typically so outdated that they make me wonder if your still running a business or you quit and forgot to turn the website off. if you want to know what makes people who are new turn off of breeders and go to auction sites and face book its the breeders lack of updating their web sites, you might only breed ball’s once a year but your site should be updated all year. a 2014 snake from august shouldn’t be over the weight of one from 2014 July like i see on some sites because the July one hasn’t been updated since it got posted early this year. the other thing is that we don’t get told when there are reptile shows near by unless we know some one who goes to them all ready. i would of never known there were even shows if not for a coworker telling me about them. how can an auction site hurt some one more then the lack of communication i see in the industry both in the websites lack of updating and the lack of communication when the consumers get the chance to meet face to face with the breeders ie advertising shows.

      until those 2 things are taken as a major part of the breeder’s business plan you will see face book and auction sites like Mr. Wilbanks’s just get larger and larger. And yes i do get that breeder’s are not in charge of shows (for the most part) however i am not just seeing a lack of effort from the breeders the show organizers who put these shows together seem to just do it as a back burner thing that they really don’t seem to care about never an add in the paper or any where that i have seen other then their websites which will only get looked for if you were all ready aware of them.

  3. An excellent initial article by Justin, with many of the points he makes being really relevant. Mikes input is equally important, keeping the market buoyant is essential to the future well being of the hobby. The wide range of desirable animals from pet level Pastels, to the latest state of the art 6 gene combos, are in existence because there was and is a great demand for them. If we reach a stage where cheap prices replace quality animals then the interest will eventually wane and die. We depend on conscientious breeders both large and small to maintain a healthy vibrant market.

  4. I’ve made several posts regarding auctions in my FaceBook wall and every time I did I received either a phone call or email or message from someone who is well invested in these FaceBook auctions and doesn’t agree with my point of view. When I first saw the Reptilering site pop up (reptilebay at the time) I made a post about it that wasn’t positive to say the least. I was furious about seeing our hobby be taken down to just a eBay knockoff commodity, but then Mike reached out and in a very long set of messages explained to me where he was coming from and what his goal was. After reading his messages several times I’m beginning to change my point of view on this. Keep in mind i’ve never been 100% against auctioning your snakes. What I am and will always be against is every tom dick and Larry with a couple or just a few thousand (if that) “likes” on FaceBook running their own individual auctions. That practice is what really gets to me. I have a Facebook page for MAballs.net and it has just shy of 2,000 likes. If I were to put up say a Coral Glow up for auction how many people do you think would actually see that post? Out of those people, how many do you think are actually in the market for a CG and have the money to pay for it?
    Remember, i’m not known for running auctions so it’s not like my 2,000 likes are checking my page every day to see what I have up for auction today. Ok, so with all that in mind, let’s say the animal ends up going for $500 because of the small amount of people that actually saw it, and even smaller amount that wanted it, and even smaller amount that could pay for it. How is that fair to the customers that just a couple of months ago paid me $1,300 for one?
    It isn’t.
    So back to ReptileRing, now that I understand what Mike is doing I think he’s got the right idea. I could place that same CG on his site where everyone that visits is there looking specifically to participate in an auction, now my audience is much larger and the animal has a chance of selling for closer to retail. This way my previous customers don’t feel cheated and those that are invested in that project (not my own customers) aren’t getting screwed either so everyone is happy. I don’t expect auctioned animals to go for retail or over retail all the time, if that’s the case then what’s the point of bidding in an auction. Most do it to get a “deal” on an animal they otherwise couldn’t afford. But that doesn’t mean they all have to go for cents on the dollar either.
    This is the reason Ben Siegel is so successful at auctioning off animals on his page, he has amassed an incredible 119,000+ likes on FaceBook and has made it primarily an auction page. So when someone is looking to participate in an auction chances are the first place they think of going to is his page (not the random guy that decided to toss an animal up for auction because he just couldn’t sell it otherwise) again, bigger audience, better chances of fetching reasonable prices. Reasonable as in, low enough that it’s worth participating in an auction instead of working directly with a breeder on it but not too low that others involved in the project get upset over it.
    We all know auctions are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean we have to be reckless about it. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
    Thank you Justin for writing such a great article and thank you Mike for taking the time to explain to me what your goal was with your new venture. You didn’t have to take the time to do that and I appreciate that you did.

    p.s:If you still feel the need to do your own thing and put up random auctions on your own page or wall please be responsible and set a fair reserve on it.

  5. I am a new (48 y/o) keeper/collector/breeder of Ball Pythons and it is something I am doing in collaboration with my 16 y/o son. We live in the Middle East where the availability of Ball Pythons is somewhat limited and the shipping costs and importation paperwork can be a heavy deterrent. That said, we now have a moderate collection of BP’s and are off to a good start. With some luck and plenty of effort we will be producing some simple starter combinations within 18-24 months and I cannot wait to see my first Mystic Potion pip. My son’s preference is for a Mystic/Lesser BEL and we are aiming for that too.

    When we started out, we purchased 1.1 Normal from the local pet store and within days, we were trolling the Internet looking for where we could get some of the awesome morphs that were out there. Time and time again, the big breeders either did not ship overseas or had a rather high minimum purchase before they would consider it. (If any of the bigger breeders are reading this, then you will probably recall my phone calls and/or emails last year). In truth it became more and more disheartening and the chance of us breeding the Mystic Potion was slowly ebbing away.

    That is to say until we came across a Facebook “Share” on a Ball Python owners group of an auction on Bob Clarke Reptiles page.

    Free shipping to Canada and Dubai….. Are you kidding me?!!

    The bottom line is this, we have subsequently purchased a few snakes on Bob’s auctions, a whole lot more from his non-Facebook website. We are looking to get some more from him again soon.

    I respect all the arguments above and I know that I am still new to the hobby however, if it were not for the Auction, we would probably not have had all the animals we have today and Bob would have had a couple of thousand dollars less to report on his income tax returns. The auction was simply an access point to the rest of Bob’s business.

    For me it seems that auctions are another way of getting somebody into your shops (online in this case). Whether it’s Mike at Reptilering or Bob on Facebook, the animals you sell at auction are in many cases a small percentage of your total sales (Ben Siegel aside). For me, the auction animals are like a really good discount (if you are fortunate) but do not represent the bulk of my purchases.

    The argument about prematurely devaluing the market value of high-end animals is something that I understand but I honestly believe that the occasional opportunity to get animals at a rock-bottom price is like a loss-leader that increases the interest in other stock/supply and gets more customers walking into the shop or clicking on the virtual door. Whilst the guy who would normally buy the Hairball may not be in the market today, changing the price may result in the introduction of a new customer to the marketplace and that could represent additional (new) funds to the industry.

    As a parting thought, I am often buying or considering buying animals at auction that I would not have normally bought. That has got to be a good thing for the seller and in many cases a good thing for the buyer too.

  6. Thanks for writing the article Justin and it was good to hear some feedback from Mike and the others who have posted so far. I think there are some very valid points in all of this and I appreciate the perspectives. When I first saw reptilering advertisements on FB, I also saw the Breeder’s Circle website popping up at the same time, also with an auction. Apparently, the majority of big breeder’s are doing it and it definitely makes us small guys kind of discouraged; at least me. However, after reading the above article, it makes it sound as if Mike and reptilering is trying to bring the community together for a kind of ‘one-stop shopping’ experience, which I think could be a good idea.

    Unfortunately, after reading some of the fine print on the website, the fees assessed really begin to add up for the sellers if you are not associated with the site, which I think is unjust. To start, there is a $200 start up fee; I think this is fair. Then it appears every year after that is only $100. I also think this is fair. There is also a $1/per ad fee. Again, fair I think. Lastly, there appears to be a whopping 5% sales fee at the completion of the ad once someone purchases the animal? That is the killer to me and seems very unjust, especially if selling a higher priced animal. Mike stands to make a killing off that percentage.

    I understand he developed the idea and the website and he and whoever his partners are have money invested into that, money they would like to recoup, but isn’t that basically what the initiation fees and per-ad fee should cover? 5% seems outrageous to me.

    How many people try to get around paypal because of their 2.5% fee? (That might be wrong…maybe it’s 3%?) Even still, if it is 2.5%, 5% is double that obviously.

    Again, I highly disagree with this portion of the terms and conditions and would like for everyone to recognize this before choosing to support or not, what is going on. Knowledge is power.

    • Matt,

      I have to agree with you. The initial start up fee of $200 is somewhat reasonable with follow-on years being $100 per year, depending on buyer participation. Comparatively speaking, that’s not so bad. The $1 per auction and the 5% fee of the ending auction price is where it gets very disheartening.

      Lets further investigate…

      Say a small time breeder like myself joins and auctions an animal. The animal sells for $1000 at the end of the auction…

      Start-up cost: $200
      Auction fee: $1
      5% end-auction fee: $50
      PayPal fee (assuming PayPal is used): ~$35
      Shipping: ~$65
      Insurance on the animal (assuming insurance is purchased): ~$25
      Shipping materials: $5-$10

      So for a first-time $1000 sale on ReptileRing, the seller will receive about $615 when all said and done. Compare this to any other place where a person can sell their animals. It’s a fairly large difference, especially for those that do not sell a ton of animals to make up for all of these additional fees. Where’s the logic in this folks? Regardless of the excuse, it’s not fair for the people actually trying to keep things strong.

      How about a second sale for $1000…

      Start-up cost: Omitted… paid for from first sale.
      Auction fee: $1
      5% end-auction fee: $50
      PayPal fee (assuming PayPal is used): ~$35
      Shipping: ~$65
      Insurance on the animal (assuming insurance is purchased): ~$25
      Shipping materials: $5-$10

      For a second sale of $1000, the seller will receive about $815.

      Again, just examples, but for a second sale, your going to lose another $51, and $51 dollars is a lot for people. That’s about 3 – 50lb bags of rat food for me.

      It’s extremely unfair to the small guys who actually WANT to keep things strong, like myself, and for someone to say that a place of this nature will help the market is simply, well, insane.

      Take that $1 per auction and 5% fee completely out of the picture. Better yet, $150 start-up fee and $100 every year after would be legit in my eyes. That’s it.

      FURTHERMORE… To go onto ReptileRing and see very expensive animals being sold for around half of the market value is also an automatic red light. Yet, people continue to drink the “big breeder kool-aid”. Yea… this place is helping the market? Wake up, folks.

      Here is the exact terminology from RRs Terms and Conditions:

      Fees. You agree to pay the applicable fees for using the Site, and you understand that ALL FEES PAID TO US ARE NON-REFUNDABLE. The Listing fee for and Auction or Classified ad is $1 for the basic listing with optional ad enhancements available at the time of listing. All listing fees are due at the time of listing and the ad or auction will not be visible until the listing fees are processed. Classified ads are simply private transactions and there are no other fees associated with a classified ad. Auctions will have a fee due at the successful conclusion of the auction equal to 5% of the final sales price. These fees will be due on the Friday following the conclusion of the auction or at the time a new listing is posted. Normally, we will process all invoices for listing fees each Friday. If you have a credit card set up on your account, we can process your fee payment automatically. If you only have Paypal, you will receive an email each Friday with the total invoice for your listings on ReptileRing. Payment of this invoice is due before the next Friday when new invoices will be sent. Accounts not paid after three (3) billing cycles are subject to suspension on the 4th attempt to request payment. These fees are low and the invoice totals will likely never be very much, so please pay in a timely manner so we can continue to provide you service.

      • Haha. Jeremy might be a little cranky because he tried to open an account with us and was immediately banned. Poor Jeremy lives in such a negative world, we knew he would never be a good fit for our team. We all try to keep a positive outlook that is contagious with one another. It helps us all to be successful. I wish him the best and hope that he discovers some joy in his life at some point. I would just prefer that he sells his snakes through a different avenue, that’s all.

        About his reply. I’m not sure if he just thinks everyone is stupid, gullible or what. Most of the costs he outlines have nothing to do with us. Besides them being inflated, they would be part of any sale regardless of where the sale occurred. I’m responsible for paypal and shipping fees in Jeremy’s world.

        I would like to thank Jeremy for helping to spread the word about the great deals people are getting at http://www.ReptileRing.com. Tip for your future Jeremy. A positive attitude will open doors for you and help you succeed in life.

  7. I don’t believe in auctions never have and never will and i do think that the auctions have hurt the Ball Python market. However my main focus on auctions is the corruption. If you have been paying attention on certain ball python forums and some peoples facebook there has been breeders who run actions on animals and have put it false bid by a made up name or had a friend put in a bid to start raising the price of the animal. Then i have heard that the breeder has sent the second highes bid (who is not his friend) an email saying the top bids backed out and the animal is theres for their bid price. This has happened by some of the BIG BREEDERS in this hobby and its such an unethical thing to do in any business. The names of the people who have been caught doing this are big names as well. Im all for a heatlhy strong Ball Python market where the prices are high. But it can’t be corrupt and have unethical business practises. This is hurting the market just as much as anything else because the trust in the market and most breeders is gone!!!! Over the past 2 to 3 years from the Banana’s, Toffinos and auctions the trust in the Ball Python market and breeders has taken a massive toll and has the Ball Python community and new hobbiest very leary to invest.

  8. Really great article makes excellent points. Releasing a new morph to auction before a value is established makes no business sense what so ever. Not just for the market but for the breeder.
    I also enjoyed the counterpoint as well…that is until I checked ReptileRing and saw a male Puma about to be sold for a high price of $730.00 (6 min till close) There is also a Highway that is about to go for just $4100.00 with only 6 minutes to go.
    What seems to be like an excellent idea as far as consolidating auction sites should be done around Ben Siegel’s auction site as he already has the traffic to generate those “close to retail prices” Mike speaks about. Ben Siegel’s page stats as of today are

    Ben Siegel Reptiles
    (7,012 ratings)
    120,246 likes · 15,078 talking about this · 1,008 were here

    That is not easy to duplicate and in the time that it takes a page to build up to that level, you will have the same experience that is happening with FB auctions, it will just be in another format.
    I have no personal interest in Ben Siegel’s business but since he is so well established in that area, wouldn’t it make sense to reach out to him rather than start from scratch. I know my response may sound negative towards ReptileRing but it really is not meant to be. I think the concept is excellent and given time Reptile Ring may be an answer but at this time it seems to be more of the exact problem that is being discussed.

    Perhaps there is a way that Reptile Rings auction can run on Ben’s page or some other collaborative effort.. However it happens, the established leader in this area that is very far ahead of everyone else is where the answer may lie…

  9. I am interested to hear about what Matt or Todd propose as a solution to the market problem. Are either of you doing anything? It is easy to sit back and criticize, but a different matter all together to actually do something about it. If either of you have an idea that will help the market, I would love to hear it.

    We only launched 1 month ago. I have just over $10,000 invested so far. We are developing some new features like text message notifications and Facebook integration which is going to be $6,000 on the low side. The text messages will be charged to ME, sometimes as much as $1 each for some countries and this text will be going out a hundred at a time if we are really big. Then we have hosting fees which are nothing until you start gobbling up bandwidth at the rate we will. Oh and then there is marketing. We are spending thousands more on marketing the site. All to bring people to buy from the site. Then we will start with the currency integration so people from all over the world can bid in their own currency and it will show up to a bidder from the US as GBP, for example, and show to someone from the US as USD for the same auction. this will unite the world in that everyone will be able to bid in a currency that they are comfortable with. So, I should recoup all of this $1 at a time? OK….well that won’t even scratch the surface. Do the math on a million dollars of business which might be on the high side and you will get a figure that does not meet my definition of a “killing” after you subtract expenses. I just do not want to lose money on it. I kept hoping someone would do this and finally just decided to do it myself.

    Matt are you saying that if you sold an animal for $1000, that $50 is more than you would be willing to pay to be a part of a ready made market? This is not a classified ad. You really get money at the end. Classified ads on the site do just cost $1. Have you considered that you might get $50 more than you otherwise would? One of the current breeders on the site put it best. (Keep in mind that the current sellers are pretty darn happy and would rather me never allow another person on.) He said there is not one person among us that if called by a customer on a $1000 animal would not take $950 if the customer offered that. I want to help the market but asking me to shell out $20k then close to that each year just so you will not have to give up $50 of your $1000 seems a little selfish to me. We only want sellers who want to be part of the team both financially and philosophically. Read the “Free Riders” clause. I don’t even want the $200 if the seller will put up a banner as part of helping to promote the site and it says that right under the FAQ. I am interested in helping the market and in that effort I have spent a significant amount of my time and money.

    Paypal is around 4% and exactly how are they helping you to market and sell your animal for a higher price? We only want those people who are really dedicated and serious about building their business and helping us build the ReptileRing. Some other big breeders with big customer bases are coming on board and they do not want to share that with people who would be deterred by a 5% fee. I don’t want to share my customer base with someone who would be deterred by $50 for a $1000 sale. That person will just siphon off sales from me without contributing to the marketing effort. I discussed fee structure long and hard with some of the breeders with the most to lose as they come on. We started at 2% and even if we run a million dollars through the site it would be only $20k and would not cover expenses at that rate. I’m not trying to get rich running a website, but I sure don’t want to go broke either. Why would I?, so you can pay $10 instead of $25 from your $500 sale. Quite simply we do not want people who only want to take without contributing. The breeders who expect not to spend any time and money marketing are part of the problem in the market.

    We have a backlog of around 30 sellers that have asked to be on the site. It is a delicate balance for us to bring sellers in slowly so we do not collapse the market with too many auctions for the same animal at the same time. The breeders we have coming are guys who have been very successful in this business. They do not want to share their customer bases with other breeders who are not as dedicated as they are. That is easily defined as a person who resents contributing $50 of their $1000 sale to help in this endeavor.

    Derek Wray….Great idea. I will call Ben tomorrow and tell him we are all coming over to sell on his FB Auction. Ben’s deal is working for Ben and good for him I wish him the best, but here is a dirty little secret, he didn’t invite the rest of us to share it with him. So, maybe we have to start something of our own. One last thing Derek. Go to ReptileRing.com click the “advanced search” in the upper right corner. Then check the box that say “include completed listings”. It will show you the prices that every animal has sold for since the beginning of this one month old site. I bet if you compare them to the prices that Ben is getting, we are getting more a lot of the time. How will that look after we have been around as long as he has? That Puma went for $1300 which was fine by me. I think the buyer got a good deal and I was able to generate some cash flow. I paid $7500 for my Spark male 2 years ago. Things have changed either adapt and survive or don’t and perish. I am choosing to survive.

    • Mike, again, it’s good to hear things from YOUR perspective. It is easy to see how defensive you are about this. You’ve got to realize up front and from the beginning you’re going to have a lot of detractors about what you’re trying to do. It sounds to me that you actually have a good idea so DO NOT get the wrong impression from me about that. I think what you’re trying to do is a probably a GOOD THING.

      The problem you’re running into from MY perspective is that it looks like you’re trying to make too much money on this IN THE END, which I’m not sure is exactly right. Maybe I’m wrong about that potential? It would depend greatly on your costs. I’m not debating that you are going to have expenses to cover. You are certainly going to incur costs from running the website and many of the things you mentioned as far as ‘texts’ and conversion rates for different currencies is something I obviously overlooked. You have more of the answers than I do, that is absolutely fair to say. But this is where things get sticky…you kept mentioning the 5% fee and $50 per $1000 overall. (Probably because I said it was outrageous.) You basically talked about this money being used to pay for the site…You didn’t really mention the $200 initiation fee and then the $100/annual fee after; to include the $1/per ad? Yes the $1/per ad is you getting your money back $1 at a time, but you’re also getting your money back $200 and $100 at a time as well. Of course that money is used to help pay for the site too; it’s not exactly $1 at a time.

      Then again, if it is not a site where everyone can join and be a seller and you’re trying to keep it limited, I suppose that all of the fees is the cost people pay for being involved in the website; at which time anything is fair for that luxury. I’m not sure that is right necessarily either as I thought this was meant to be a forum for all breeders, but I’m sure you have your own opinion as to why that needs to be if that is true. It seems to be the case though as you said there are “30 sellers backlogged.” Clarify for me, is this supposed to be for everyone or select breeders only as it progresses?

      Let me just finalize by saying this is not an attack on you by any means and I would much prefer a diplomatic explanation of what is really happening than to argue about any of this. In the end, we would all like to see some market stabilization, if for nothing else than to maintain a beloved hobby, and if you are truly in this to make a difference for us all, I genuinely thank you for your efforts. It would take a large breeder like yourself to accomplish something that would make a difference…
      You asked if I am “doing anything” to correct the situation in the beginning of your reply? My answer to that would be that I am offering my thoughts and opinions, trying to help in a much smaller way, so that you can see from a different perspective as well, possibly to help tweak your system to make it better. You can use what everyone in here is saying in one small way or the other if you choose to. Not saying you have all the time in the world to do that much listening/reading, but nobody is commenting simply because ‘they want to,’ they are commenting probably because they care about what happens too.

      One possible solution as to not be only problems and not fixes…

      Instead of $1/per ad, $5/per ad is still a lot less than $50 or even $20 on a $400/animal. It would help you recuperate your money more quickly and not put a dent in the smaller breeder’s pocket; if they’re even allowed to join? Wouldn’t this help ease your burden in the beginning; while not giving as much potential to make a lot of money off everyone else in the end? I’m sure a lot of people would balk at $5/per ad, but when compared to 5% of the actual sale, it would be much less as you can see. The biggest issue I see with this is that the animal would have to actually sell so that the person didn’t have to repay another $5 to post again.

    • MIKE WILBANKS

      I completely agree with you im in a very good position to be able to critisize. I wish i was in a position like you were i could be part of a solution for this but im not. What i do know being a business major is auctions, websites etc… are not the solution to this problem. The problem we have is the philosphy people run their business. I believe i do infact know the solutions to this hobby and i would love to one day have a conversation with you about it.

  10. Mike, your reply is akin to me saying Facebook won’t make me a co owner so I’m going to go rebuild it. Great plan, I wish you the best but the finest website and platform are not going to make up for traffic (consolidated buyers) which as you stated and I agree – is the most important thing. Consolidating a lot of buyers in one place rather than splintered can only be good and will generate a more fair to market price value.
    Of course Ben isn’t going to share what he has already built but he’s the guy with the traffic and building that traffic is no easy feat.
    Collaboration with existing auction sites is going to be key to accomplish what you are attempting.
    Anybody can put up a site, the same way anybody can put up a FB page. Find a way to bring the traffic and then I’ll get excited. Otherwise, it’s more of the same just a different platform.
    Frankly, at this point it feels like a very fine and well thought out article is getting taken over by discussing your site.

    • I have 86,000 fans on my page. I was willing to share that unlike Ben. We are starting with something close to the amount of traffic Ben has. Then add the fans that Prehistoric Pets brought, he has 45,000. Jeremy has almost 10,000. Brad Boa has 2500. The rest bring a few thousand . All of us sharing auctions to the site on Facebook. So, we proposed this as a solution to the smaller breeders where they could join us in this effort that already has more combined fans than Ben. Like I said in my about us on the site. I could keep this to myself and do quite well. I am trying to help the market. This could be a solution. We are not starting from scratch. We are a consolidation of our significant customer bases.

      Combine this with the fact the things have significantly changed on Facebook. They are restricting your reach drastically in hopes of making you pay to play. Small, no reach Facebook auctions are hurting the market. I agree with you. I think Justin’s article is fine and my response speaks for itself. I just had to point out that duplicating the success of Ben’s auction has already been done. We are just trying to help the market by allowing smaller breeders to participate. If our help is not welcome, then lots of luck gentlemen.

  11. Matt, Sorry for sounding defensive and thanks for your response. I really just wanted a good place for me to auction without having to babysit them and decide when they were over and settle disputes like I did when we ran them on Facebook. I have enough customer base to be the only seller and keep it to myself and do quite well. I have spent almost 20 years building my customer base. I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building this base with marketing, websites, banners, shows and time with customer service, etc. When I decided that I might open this site up to other sellers, it was a very difficult decision. I have spent a lot on development. My friends that came in first are very concerned about their hard earned customer bases being exposed to smaller breeders who have put in less effort. We discussed how it should be opened up. When we started up at 2%, I honestly thought we would have a nice slow progression of sellers coming in and we could grow in a slow way. I had no idea we would be overwhelmed like we were. This coupled with the cost of the new features that we wanted caused us to rethink this structure. I feel like text messages sent to bidder on a particular auction notifying him that the animal he is interested in is about to end would be a great feature. This comes with significant development cost and continued cost for the service. It could run more than $1000 a month. So, with $5 ads, I need 200 listings just to pay for that part. Then there are the other expenses I discussed earlier. We also need to tie the cost to the final auction price to make it more fair. A guy selling a $10 corn snake should not have to pay the same fee that a guy selling a $1000 ball python is. Corn snake people are already complaining about the $1 fee because in some cases it is 10% of the final sales price of the animal.

    We have to do something both to restrict this to only those people who are really serious about helping to market and help defray these significant costs. In the end, if I make a profit for my many hours of work, then that would be nice as well. People that resent profit are probably not going to do well in this competitive market and will probably not help us much. I do not want to make the decision about who’s in or out like some sort of elite club of people I approve of. I would rather restrict it by keeping out people who do not want to contribute to the effort both monetarily and by advertising and sharing to help build the site.

    You keep bringing up the $200 fee. I state clearly that I would rather you put a banner on your website instead of paying this fee. When you put a banner it improves our google ranking because the more places a site is referenced across the internet, the higher it ranks. They would be helping build this group of breeders by helping us advertise and then there is no fee. What about the guys who do not have websites, but only have Facebook? They do not contribute as much as those of us that are placing banners, so they need to pay a fee. We do not want people on the site that are there to simply siphon sales instead of helping to contribute to the community that we have already contributed so much to build.

    We cannot open this up immediately to every breeder. It will collapse under its own weight. We need to do this in waves as we meet member thresholds. I am not interested in spending all of this time, money and effort only to collapse the market by having a hundred auctions for the same animal up and the auctions not doing well. I want people to baulk. I need them to baulk. I would like them to try to sell their animals the traditional way first. When they feel like they have to do an auction at least put it in front of enough people to bring a decent price. Like I said before you would probably get more than that percentage in additional price for the animal because of the additional bidders. Compared to a Facebook auction on your own, that makes it free.

    I do not have all the answers. I am trying something new. It may or may not work. I am very confident it will work for me and the other sellers who are already there. It will not work for the people who feel the costs are too prohibitive for them to participate. That is probably the most fundamental problem in the ball python market. There are people who thought they would hatch the snakes and they would sell themselves. They did not anticipate the effort required to develop a customer base. So, they drop their price in order to make a quick sale and, well….you know the rest. The auction site will not solve their problems. Nothing will solve their problem so why bother trying to help people who are not willing to apply any effort. We are here for the guy who is working very hard but just can’t seem to get noticed. When his effort is combined with ours we will all win. I am finished with this now. I’ve said all that I have to say. So good luck to all of you.

    ps. There is a website. http://www.similarweb.com go put in anyone’s website and you can see their traffic reports. Mine is http://www.Pythonregius,com Now play around and put in websites of your favorite breeders. This will give you some idea of which ones are getting the most traffic and have a lot to contribute to this endeavor. Global ranks will give you the best idea.

  12. Gentlemen, the question raised initially by Justin is “Do Auctions Damage the Reptile Industry?”

    ..this is not about the crucifying the business model of any specific auction site or breeder/supplier. Just like many other things in life, “vive la différence”.

    In my view there is a place for Bob’s Facebook Auction, 1 snake at a time. There is place for Ben’s BIN’s and every other thing you can get if you shout “SOLD!” first (I have bought a few books and scales for myself and friends there….) and there is place for Mikes ReptileRing with selected breeders offering a variety of animals on an auction centric website.

    Just like traders everywhere in the world since the first pile of produce was plonked down on the table for trade, everyone want’s the best deal they can get out of a that trade. That could mean pride for one person, market share for the next guy or cold hard cash for the next.

    Similarly for the buyer, we want the best we can get (from our perspective). Maybe I just want a mystic female gene in my collection for my mystic potion product, not bothered if it is a good example of a mystic or not, just want the morph. Other buyers might pay top dollar for an animal because they seek the best possible example of that same morph.

    What’s my point you ask?

    My point is that we all have expectations when we come to the trading table and the same is true for buyers and sellers. Auctions are only one of many ways we buy/sell products and we do this for multitudes of products including livestock.

    If you don’t like the commission that Mike charges, don’t sell snakes at ReptileRing, rather give Ben a call or make your own auction. If you don’t like $1 dollar battles on Bob’s auction, then raise it by $50 (I do because its 2am where I am and I cannot be bothered to play $1 musical bids with someone who is).

    In a market area where the number of competitors is on the rise and the average price of the product is on the decrease, every seller has to find “new” and innovative ways to get their produce in the eyes of as many customers as possible.

    Auctions are here to stay, nothing will change that to be sure.

    So …… Do Auctions Damage the Reptile Industry? I say Yes and No.

    No they do not; I think they are good for the industry as one of numerous access points for the purchasing public.

    Yes they do; If you are a dealer/breeder that is not prepared to modify or adapt your business model with the changing market and times. You do not represent the reptile trade, the reptile trade does that by itself.

    Richard

    PS: It seems to me that there is more damage being when the community chooses to criticise inward rather than stand together and defend the Industry from the threats that are growing on the outside.

  13. When I saw reptilebay/reptilering I was super excited for it. I still am. I think auctions are here to stay. Negative aspect of Facebook style to me are people’s comments etc. I am excited to be able to LIST/SELL to a database of people. Mike clearly states this above. For years, to me, there where only a couple venues to LIST/SELL reptiles. Times have changed. Now I believe there are too many avenues to sell, causing chaos. On to fees, I know I pay $20 a month as needed for another site. Props to Mike for making it. Nice, professional read Justin.

  14. I’m sorry Mike–you keep mentioning my page like I am trying to keep something from everyone else and put a negative spin on what I do not only on here, but also via personal communication with others. For me and our business this is our model that we have created. We feel the fb platform is the perfect one for doing the auctions that we do. Without trying they created the perfect environment with a time stamp system that keeps not only the bidders honest, but also the person running the auctions. It is impossible to have bidding bots and anonymous shills like on ebay and you are seeing first hand the people you are bidding against. As a matter of fact we have many people that started out bidding against each other(sometimes to the point of war!) who are now good friends, do breeding loans and have established long term relationships. We are not just a computer interface, but a community.
    We are centralized and watch all bidding and participation first hand as to make sure our customers are protected. We have a block list with over 500 people from over the last 3 years. What does that mean? It means that when people get on to play games, don’t pay for auctions, or cause trouble for other bidders they are gone from our page. Our bidders are protected and our page is fully moderated the entire time auctions are running. I am sure MANY of you that have watched our page have seen the ever so common comment “So and SO(with the name tagged) please message us if you would like to participate” The reasons for this is because their bid is removed and they cannot bid until they message us with their full info. This protects our regular bidders and customers from being bid up or competing with someone that has no intention of paying. That is the problem with many competing pages that have ranged from doing similar things to what we do all the way up to downright copying our business models and marketing techniques. See–thats the one thing aside from everything else that they unfortunately they cannot copy, Weeding out the bad eggs. That can only be done via long term commitment and vigilance. I cannot tell you the number of times on other pages, including your own, that I have seen people bidding that I know for a fact are either not going to pay, or are just playing games. See they can only mess up one auction. If they don’t pay, they are blocked and the animal is resold. As a matter of fact if you remember on the adult male leopard you won from us I messaged you as well to make sure it was actually you and it was on the up and up. Everything else aside and for that one reason alone is why our page is the most successful, well that and the fact that we absolutely bust our asses every day of the week.
    Our company was successful before we started doing auctions, as we sell good animals and we deal with some excellent breeders and dealers that we have built up good relationships with since 1988, in addition to breeding ourselves. I have many good customers that have become excellent small to medium size breeders that also provide us with top quality animals and we purchase entire productions from quite a few of them. We are still the same company we were before we started doing auctions, same quality service, our animals still get the same quality care and our customers are ALWAYS taken care of before and after the sale. We don’t skimp on feed and our normal cb males get the same weekly food that our $7500 highways gets. Ask our rodent supplier! I think he is the one who is the happiest about this! Often times a customer will win a snake at 100 grams that has to be held due to weather, and they get the animal and it is closer to 200 grams. The big difference now is that we have found a medium that gets our customers the animals they want at a price they want to pay. We provide a safe platform to do it on that is 100% transparent and as a matter of fact, we do not remove our listings so all is visible to anyone who wants to look. They can go back and see prices of what particular animals have sold for, who won them and what they looked like and not just last week. They can see last month, last year, even 2 years ago. We have close to 15,000 completed auctions on our page if I am not mistaken. If our customers have issues they also know they do not have to be shy and can contact us and we will do everything to make any issues right often times above and beyond our clearly stated terms as we being herpers ourselves, understand that sometimes when dealing with animals it is not so cut and dry. We have animals that go for over market value when they are exceptionally high quality example of that particular specimen, and we have animals that go below market value, and we have people that get upset at us in both situations. We run a fair and honest page and we take our lumps on a regular basis along with our good sales. In the end we hope it all balances out and our customers often times get excellent deals on very nice animals which is a great thing as they become repeat customers and that is our goal. We believe strongly in customer support and getting new people into our hobby which is really the only key to long term survival. We sell many people their first pastel male all the way up to bamboos, highways and some morphs that have never even been publicly offered.
    You write that you have 86,000 followers and unlike me you were willing to share them. Really Mike? Did you allow people to advertise their business’s on constrictors unlimiteds site? Did you sell banner ads to other breeders on your page, I mean before you saw the success we were having and decided to try and do something similar did you let people post auctions on your 86,000 follower page? Or is it only now that you are getting a cut of it? And about those likes that you claim are 86,000 people you bring to the table for your new site. Are those actual likes or did you hire an outside company to buy likes? Just curious as if you are toting that as the reason for your success and the reason people should have faith enough to pay to list in what you are doing it should at least be known the origin of the likes. I mean are these likes all from actual people who have come to your page and said, this is a cool page about reptiles, I am going to like it or are they auto generated likes from an anonymous foreign country server?
    I also hear you are talking alot about people should buy from you because you are a breeder and they should only buy breeder direct. I mean REALLY Mike? Are you telling me you only sell what you produce and you do not buy large groups of offspring from other breeders? I mean that is completely fine if you do, we all have to work together to satisfy demand and keep our business going, but don’t make it sound like that’s the only way you should purchase if you yourself are buying animals from other people as well. Its like someone telling you that the only true way to eat healthy is being a vegan while they suck down a big mac. To try and push public opinion to that is fairly hippo critical if you ask me if you do that yourself. I mean you talk about it as if it is a bad thing. We embrace the fact that we deal with an amazing network of smaller to mid range breeders and even a few big ones that we have trust in. It is one of the keys to our success and said breeders success. If I am mistaken I apologize, but I did read something along those lines that you wrote somewhere on here when discussing the reasons for purchasing only breeder direct. I am all for supporting the small breeder. We support many of them by buying entire year productions, and while I agree that buying breeder direct is a great thing, it can also be a terrible experience as well. It all goes back to who your buying from. Their are many many excellent breeders with fantastic animals and perfect honest business ethics, I know a bunch of them because we buy lots of babies from them. But on the flip side of the coin there are also terrible ones, that don’t feed or take care of their animals well, are dishonest with their customers and provide zero customer support. Their are many avenues to acquire your stock from and they are only as good as the person you are buying from. I get several questions a day inquiring about different people that sell animals and if it is someone who I have personally dealt with and have experience, I will give an absolute honest opinion. We have dealt with SO MANY of the people in this industry in the last 20 years and have no issues giving glowing recommendations when asked. It has also made us very good at knowing who to buy and not to buy our own stock from which allows us to deliver a better quality product to our customers. We are not restricted to selling only what we produce and it affords and our customers the unique opportunity to get animals from many different bloodlines(from here and from other countries), from many different breeders in addition to our own offspring. Some breeders don’t have the desire, time or drive to meet people and deliver animals, or do shows, answer emails and telephone calls, pack orders, ship, and all the other stuff that goes along with making a successful transaction. They count on me to buy what they hatch, and I count on them to deliver a quality product. Many of them Started as customers and turned their hobby into additional income or at least something that pays for itself as they love doing it. They also know when they are looking for something in particular I am going to take excellent care of them as they do me. Its a give and take and we get some amazing looking animals from many of them. They know they don’t have to wait a month to get paid and a check will show up in a few days that will be good and they know that we will continue to buy their inventory even when we are stocked up on a particular item(ie-we buy the normals as well from our regular breeders). Its just good business. Their are many dedicated breeders that are doing awesome things in our industry–case and point the man who’s page I am writing this response on Justin is an excellent dude. I have watched him from a distance for many years and have an admiration not only for some of his excellent animals, but also his products which are new, exciting and always presented in a professional manner. Do you still have that lavender albino Justin? Man how things have changed since then huh! I am glad to see you have flourished and are doing well. I rarely get the time to look around but I always hear good things about JKR and that is always a positive.
    I tend to work with blinders on. My business and customers keep me and everyone at BSR’s time very occupied. I hear grumblings and 99% of the time I just ignore them and chalk it up to haters are going to hate as anyone that truly knows us and has done business with us knows that we are in it for the long haul and do not play games, but sometimes certain things deserve some attention and a reply when someone keeps specifically citing your name and business either publicly or privately. We are always available to anyone who needs us or if you have any questions or concerns. We can be reached at 954-427-8222 or via message on our fb page at Ben Siegel Reptiles. http://www.fb.com/reptileshop2 –sorry for the long rant.

  15. This my second breeding season. I have some AWESOME ball pythons that I have invested a LOT of my money on. I am yet to sell a snake, however, I can’t wait to provide my customers with an excellent snake, excellent customer service, and the potential of a new friendship.
    I love my snakes and I think that it is awesome that I have a shot at making this into a business.
    However, none of that is specifically unique to me. There are a TON of little breeders in the same shoes that I am in.

    When I first noticed FB auctions I was very disheartened. These auctions can be very detrimental to the small breeder trying to sell his/her snake at a decent price. So, what can I or any other small breeder do about it? I can’t make a happy seller and a happy buyer stop their transactions, no matter how much I complain. It’s one thing to try to influence and persuade people to change their opinions on issues, but complaints are worthless. Small breeders don’t have the money to influence the market in a big way. If we did we wouldn’t be small breeders.

    It’s awesome that two established and reputable breeders have written this article. This article will reach many breeders and hobbyists and force them to think about the issues surrounding reptile auctions. I think that this article will be very influential to the industry in a positive way.

    It has already been stated that reptile auctions are here to stay. I think that attempting to move these auctions away from FB and pool them into one big auction is the right move. Mike has stepped up to the plate with ReptileRing. It benefits small breeders in that he has allowed us access to his fans and the fans of other established breeders. If you don’t think that is a good deal, go work hard for years and try to build a customer/fan base that big. The bigger the population the closer the prices will be to true market value.

    Thanks to Justin and Mike for writing this article and getting people to think and talk about this issue.

  16. Ben, I have never attacked you. I have nothing but respect for you. The only thing I said about you was a response to that guy saying that I should not do what I was doing because you already had the best auction page set up. I agree you have a great page, but it is not for anyone else but you. That is fine, but his idea was why try to reinvent the wheel when Ben already has a great set up. I simply told him that we aren’t invited to your page. Surely you din’t think I was slamming you for not inviting us. It would be ludicrous to think that you would invite us over. So I did something different with my site. I think you have been a pioneer. I’m not sure what you have heard that I have said about you privately but it has been nothing but praise. I was talking to a big name the other day and I said “who would have ever thought that we would be saying that Ben Siegel revolutionized the entire reptile industry”. I have privately told you that you were great. How much more do I need to say about how great you have innovated the industry? Why are you being so sensitive to what I am saying. My only point is that all of these smaller breeders trying to copy you are only going to hurt themselves and the industry. I am interested in having a strong market. Your page is not damaging anything because you have a big following. The smaller breeders trying to copy your success are killing us because they don’t seem to get it. I did tell Amir that FB was a bad place to do the auctions on a large scale because other breeders can “poach” your customers. When the bidding gets high, they can PM the bidders and tell them they will sell them for less. I could PM your customer and tell them about my site and invite them. I would never and have never done that just out of respect for you. At Reptile Ring, your bidders are protected from this kind of thing because only the seller can PM his bidders. I told Amir and Eugene both at NARBC that it would be cool if you started doing them through Reptile Ring. They both told me it would never happen and I accept that, understand that and I can live with that. You have built something great and you owe the rest of us nothing. This Reptile Ring is something totally different. It is a consolidation of breeders coming together. So, quit thinking every time I say anything that I am talking about you. When I said in one of my ads that I had raised this sub adult female from day one and she hatched at my facility and never left instead of being passed through 17 brokers hands that was just honest. I wasn’t even thinking of you when I wrote that and I’m sorry if you took that as a shot at you. There are tons of brokers on FB selling and auctioning adult animals that they do not know the history of. That is dangerous for the buyer. You do your thing and I’m doing mine. You have truly revolutionized the entire industry. That is one pretty big feat and you should be commended for it. I have never and will never slam you publicly or privately. I am just trying to come up with a way to help the market and myself from all the small copy cats that are killing us. Ultimately that is in your best interest as well. I hope you have a great weekend.

  17. Mike, you did mention traffic and the way it was worded did make it seem like you were taking “shots” at his (Bens) site. That said I’ve bought over 6k worth of snakes from Ben’s auctions in a little over the last 3 months, and couldn’t be happier with the quality, the care, the feedback, and rapport I get from Ben and Jo. My only beef beef is the $1 dollar ebay bidders. An $800 snake goes up, the bids go $10, $20, $30, I step in and bid $500, it stays at that for 6 hours, and 1 minute before end of action some jerk bids $501. Yes I know there is a 5 minute OT, but I normally have anywhere from 4 to 10 bids going, and because of this I always end up losing all of them. Over a dollar! Actually got so frustrating I stopped participating for the time being. Anyway never having heard of your site I’m going to check it out. Best wishes to You and Ben.

  18. Getting back to the main topic…I think Justin K has made some excellent points. We have heard responses from several large breeders and large flippers (when you purchase to re-sell animals…you are a flipper). Everyone that has 50k+ invested in animals for breeding purposes should be concerned about the current market conditions, in my case Ball Pythons. Bottom line- Ben Siegel has developed a (system) to sell large quantities of animals every single day…He is making money and a good portion of the higher end stuff he is selling is not even his. He takes his cut regardless of what the animal sells for. He is in a win-win situation for himself. I get it! It took me a few months to figure it all out as I have previously participated, both buying and selling animals for and from his auctions. However, it’s the private breeder (like me and hundreds of others like me) that are being affected by these auctions in a negative way. Dan Wolfe is also a great example, Both Dan and Sandy are great people but, I think they really had a negative impact on pricing of certain specific mutations by the time they sold out…Tricks, Blitz, etc..

    Matt Leher and Bill Galloway- both great guys. Both are doing auctions in a fashion that does not effect the current or local market. Matt puts a reserve price on most higher end stuff. (This protects him as well as previous customers that have purchased similar animals from him previously). Bill usually auctions off lower end animals (morphs that have been established longer and less desirable compared to others) MOST IMPORTANTLY- They are only selling animals they have produced or a close friend of theirs has produced that has been in their care. They know the animal, health feeding habits etc…

    They Matt and Bill) are NOT flipping animals, (In some cases) the same exact day they get them in. Really, how can you advertise that an animal is feeding very well, that it is in great condition and so on if you are re-selling it the same day or day after you have purchased it from one of the hundreds of breeders in which you buy from?

    Some of these snake actions are a poison to this industry. It is killing the future of this hobby. In less we all want to purchase 100 big breeder (normal) females, and a few high end males and start mass producing as snake farmers…. I personally did not sign up for that. I want to personally produce as many multiple combo animals as possible for the fun of it!

    We can only put an end to these problems (not all auctions are problems as previously stated) If we collectively stop selling and purchasing to fuel these auctions…there is no other way around it. Sure, I still have many happy customers that would much rather purchase an animal directly from me for a higher price…but those numbers are dwindling and local shows are becoming just that….A show, to SHOW off your animals, not sell them because there are too many: ” I really like that one but….I saw it go for half price last week on auction…. so I will wait for another auction”.

  19. Pingback: The JKR Manifesto – Part 4 – Selling with Integrity | The Ball Street Journal

  20. I do not understand in the reptile world why everyone has to be so dang critical. If you don’t like auctions don’t buy, if you do then do it. Same thing with husbandry. I’m just a small timer and have never used an auction though I do find it appealing. As long as the animal isn’t being abused it’s all good.

    Ps well written article and thank you for your non critical insight

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s