Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wasatch Reptile Expo- 2008

My other life is centered around the business that my husband runs out of our basement. He raises snakes to sell on the internet and at reptile expos. In September was our annual Wasatch Reptile Expo put on at the Utah State Fairgrounds in Salt Lake City. This year, Ryan had many more snakes to sell than in previous years. I have spent time helping out at previous expos, but this year I wanted to add to our capital by introducing toys for kids with a reptile theme. We had done this on a much smaller scale to raise money for the Utah Herpitological Association a few years back. We had sold little toy snakes for 50 cents a piece and gave away some candy. It was a big hit back then, but I hadn't done anything like it since. The parents told us they loved being able to buy a souvenir without having to buy a live animal. The kids loved the toys and enjoyed a quick sugar rush while Mom or Dad dragged them around the expo. Back then, it wasn't geared to kids and there wasn't as many animals to touch or get close to. This has all changed.

This is a picture of my new idea to have a table dedicated to the selling of toys for the little visitors. It was a good idea because of how well it sold. This was my plan- I went to our local Dollar Tree and bought any toy I could find that had to do with reptiles. I borrowed $60 from Ryan (from a snake fund) and bought packages of little snakes and geckos that had eight toys in the bag. I sold those for 5o cents a piece and they sold like hotcakes! So, I profited $3 for every eight tiny snakes bought. Then I also bought these really cute books that fold out into a snake shape. They sold for $3 a piece. There were 1 foot snakes that you could put in water and they would expand 600 %. They were also sold for $3 a snake. I had some little pieces of gummy creature candies that we sold for a quarter. Then, the big favorite- a squishy frog that was clear and filled with colored fluid and little confetti pieces. they also sold for $3. Each of the $3 items netted $2 since I had bought them for a dollar. This was how it looked right before we opened on Saturday.

Within two hours of opening, I sold out of most of the sixty dollars worth of toys. I was able to pay Ryan back and still have about 70 dollars left. I had Sydney watch the table while I went to the nearest Dollar Tree and bought $70 worth of toys. While I was there, I got a phone call from Sydney saying some people wanted drinks. I thought, there is no way I'm going to try and figure out what type of pop people want, so I grabbed a couple of cases of water bottles at the Dollar Tree. I then sold the water for $1 a bottle. These sold very well too. There was no concessions at the expo, but even though we were inside, people were getting hot and had a hard time finding the drinking fountain. That is why the water sold so well. Later on that night I had to buy more toys for the next day. I spent $80 of our Saturday's profit and was well stocked again. At the end of the Expo on Sunday, I had earned $300 profit from selling the toys! Sydney had her eye on a baby bunny for sale and we let her buy it with the money she earned. I was able to purchase a used LCD computer monitor and a new soundcard and speakers with our earnings!

This is Ryan's nice glass display that he just bought. It helps to make sure the snakes don't grow legs and walk away- if you know what I mean! Stealing is a problem at these shows, so people have to show receipts as they go out the door past security.

Here is a bigger picture of Ryan and his display. All of the animals on the black table cloths are his as well as the ones in the display case. You can see my toy table in the corner as we were placed right in the corner of the Expo. That is why I could leave Sydney with the toys since Ryan was right next to us. Tyler had a scout campout Friday/Saturday so he didn't come with us. Then on Sunday he chose to go to church and pass the sacrament for the first time. I made sure to see him pass the sacrament, then I hurried down to SLC to help out Ryan and Sydney. Dallin was babysat by our next-door neighbors on Saturday and then my sister Kristi came up from Provo to watch him on Sunday for us. Thanks everyone!

Our Dumerils Boa was on display. The smaller snakes on top are the babies. This helped people to know how big they can get.

Ryan's new banner with the name of his business.

Here is the photo I promised of me holding the tarantula. Yes, it really is me- can't you tell by the freckles on my arm? This was the second time I've held a tarantula.

Sydney eating one of the novelties of the show. Lollipops with real scorpions or crickets in them, dead of course! No, she didn't eat all of the lollipop. Just the parts without the scorpion in it. These pops sold for $3 a piece by a guy that breeds crickets.

Sydney petting a burmese python that was getting a break from being cooped up in his cage. This guy came up and asked if we wouldn't mind having the python be on the ground behind our toy display. I said it wasn't a problem. Pretty soon, people would stop by our table, then see the snake behind us and go and look at it. They stopped buying the toys! I was glad when they put the snake away after only about 15 minutes. The chair in the photo is where Sydney and I had been sitting.

These three little guys (or gals) looked fake, but as I got a closer look, they were real! They were real posers! Just about as cute as bearded dragons get!

This young family was so cute, I just had to take a picture. They reminded me of the Ditto family- a couple of years ago when they only had four kids!

This is an interesting story. See the man holding the megaphone? That is Guy Versluis. He puts on the Expo every year. He was announcing the drawing for free prizes in this picture. Anyone who came automatically got a ticket. I noticed before the Expo that no one seemed to be taking pictures of the booths. When I asked Ryan about it, he said that Guy is usually too busy to do it. I then said I would volunteer since I had the camera and I've become a shutter-bug. Guy was very happy to have me take the pictures. I became the unofficial- official photographer for the Expo. The pictures will be replacing many that are currently on the web site. In this photo, I suggested that Guy tell everyone to smile and say "reptiles". He did and here is the result! I then told him to tell them to check out the website in a couple of weeks in order to see themselves. I guess I'm a shameless marketer at heart!

Since I took the pictures, I get to use some for my blog! These are our friends, Shaun and Jen. They had a booth next to ours. When the crowds slowed down, Jen would come over to our toy table and visit. Then her husband would give her this look of "Help!" and she would go back to her duties. They used three of my toy snakes to fill empty spots in their display. Check it out- and the price tag attached!

This price tag attracted many second glances, and even a news crew got a close-up of it. I was proud to say that one of my "stock" became famous (maybe) on the nightly news. I didn't stay up to see it.

Another one of our crazy snake friends- Evan Jameson (the taller one) with his worker that I don't know the name of (sorry). His wife is very sweet and I get along well with her too.

Ryan would every-so-often take out a previously frozen mouse and feed it to a snake. He would lay it on the display case and a crowd would gather every time. Here are some kids that enjoyed watching the snake and learning about how they ate.

This young man was one of the few that asked to hold our Dumerils Boa. He had a great time. His friends thought it was really neat.

Just one of the animals brought to be shown. People learn to appreciate things if they encounter them and have a good experience with them. This tortoise is owned by our friend Jim Dix who is pictured below.

Jim owns his own reptile rescue service. If someone has a venomous snake in their yard, they call him. When the Division of Wildlife Resources needs to train an officer in how to handle such animals as rattle snakes, they go to Jim. He is like Steve Irwin without the antics. Very mellow guy.

Well, I've reached the end of my photos I planned to post. I hope you enjoyed this eye opening journey into my "other" life!


Angie Nelson said...

It looks like you guys had way too much fun! Maybe for next year you can have 100 dollars worth of toys and make much more:) That's awesome you did so well and good job on your pictures!

Ditto Family said...

My kids would have loved this fair...but their mommy would have not. Way to go with your Dollar Store purchases!

Anonymous said...

hate to break it to you but your "red tail boa" is a dumerils ground boa (huge difference), sorry haha

Julie said...

Shows how much I know about our snakes! I can laugh at it since I'm not the snake person in the family and my husband didn't write the post. We have several Dumerils Ground Boas as well as Red Tail boas and I must've had it in my head that it was a Red Tail. Thanks for helping me with my error and I hope you enjoyed reading my most often visited post. I get lots of traffic from it. Funny how it's been posted for approx. 9 months and no one else bothered to correct me.

Anonymous said...

haha no problem. its a beautiful dumerils at that. i want to come to one of these shows sometime