With the help of family and friends, Aron Morrison
has built a thriving reptile store that has been serving
customers in California’s Bay Area for more than
Aron Morrison, owner of Reptile Room in Hayward, Calif.
Years in business: 21. 5
Type of business: brick-and-mortar
Special services: reptile boarding, kids’ parties, school assemblies and events R E
A Herp Destination
CONTINUED ON PAGE 74
Pet Product News: What are the top-selling products
and/or livestock in your store right now?
Aron Morrison: The top-selling items are bearded dragons, ball pythons and all chameleons. Also, Exo Terra
cages are selling well.
PPN: What are your favorite products and livestock
Morrison: My favorite animals are high-end super red
bearded dragons. My favorite products right now are
PPN: What trend have you been keeping your eye on
Morrison: I have been keeping my eye on internet sales
and their impact on brick-and-mortar stores. I worry
that the internet will eventually overtake brick-and-mortar stores, which will put an end to customers being able
to pick out their animals.
PPN: What is your best tip for turning first-time
herpkeepers into repeat customers?
Morrison: Food sales and good customer service.
PPN: What business challenge are you currently in the
process of tackling?
Morrison: The internet. It is so devastating to give customers all of your knowledge and expertise and have
them go on their smartphone and place the order while
they are in your store so they don’t forget the details you
PPN: What business goal are you hoping to achieve
Morrison: I have big plans for 2018. After 21 years of
business, I have decided to join with other independents
to buy in larger quantities to get lower prices. Also, I’m
looking at brands that are not on the internet. I’m actual-
ly thinking of bringing out my own brand, which I plan
on selling to other independents. And I will guarantee it
will never be online.
I feel that the main companies treat independents
poorly. They think that Amazon is so great because
they see this single large order. But in truth, the independents, as a whole, are larger. But they don’t see it that
way. We are the ones that give the personal attention to
show off the product. Customers can see it and touch
it. But then they go online for the lower price. I guarantee you so many independents will go out of business
and sales will go down. Not to mention that large pet
companies should give independents lower prices than
anyone else. We supply the animals. I sold 200 bearded dragons this year—two hundred! How many light
bulbs and other supplies will be purchased over the next
10 years for those animals? Amazon sold zero bearded
dragons. If this keeps up, there will be no stores selling
livestock. So who will be buying the supplies for animals
that don’t exist?
Pet Supplies Plus, which has headquarters in Livonia,
Mich., has hired three industry veterans as the next
step in the company’s initiative to drive growth and
support its current base of store owners.
The new hires, STEPHEN RITLEY, JASON PAULO
and CHRISTINE SCHULTZ, will put a concerted effort
into driving the Pet Supplies Plus franchise opportunity in neighborhoods all over the country while also
ensuring its current franchisees have the necessary
corporate support for sustained success, according to
Ritley will serve as director of franchise development. Prior to joining Pet Supplies Plus, Ritley was the
senior franchise development director at FastSigns,
where he spearheaded the growth of the custom
signs retailers for more than four years. He will work
with Paulo and Schultz to lead Pet Supplies Plus to the
next major company milestone of 500 openings and
Paulo will also serve as director of franchise
development. He has been in the franchising industry
since 2003. He is the founder of a company that he
franchised, leading it through the recession with
strong growth to make the Entrepreneur Magazine Franchise 500. After selling his company,
he started a consulting company working with
emerging businesses to help them grow through
franchising. In addition, he served as development
manager for Rhino 7 Franchising over the past year,
working with two national brands. He will use his
strong franchising and business expertise to develop
the Pet Supplies Plus brand at the national level.
Schultz was named marketing and franchise
development support specialist. She has extensive
experience in the advertising field and will be tasked
with expanding the pet store’s brand in the franchising
arena. Most recently, Schultz served as an account
director at MaxPoint.
Ziwi has welcomed two team members to its North
American corporate office in Overland Park,
Kan. TYLER MANETH will serve as the
company’s e-commerce manager, and
HEATHER JOHNSON will be Ziwi’s
accounts payable specialist.
will assume oversight
of the company’s e-commerce
presence, and his primary
responsibility will be to manage
and maintain protective minimum
advertised price (MAP) and internet minimum
advertised price (IMAP) pricing strategies to ensure
long-term future success for all brick-and-mortar
Johnson will be Ziwi’s main point of contact for
distributor and retailer credit requests, and will ensure
licensing and registration compliance. She will also
provide additional administrative support to the
company’s rapidly growing corporate office staff.
MICHAEL STOECKLE has joined Ark Naturals as
president and CEO. Stoeckle has
spent the past 30 years managing branded consumer
packaged goods companies
and has extensive experience in the U.S. pet industry.
He worked in several capac-ities at Solid Gold Pet, a premium pet food company,
as vice president of corporate strategy and, before
that, as vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to
Solid Gold Pet, he was vice president of sales for Waggin’ Train, a subsidiary of Nestlé Purina that produces
a line of natural dog treats. Most recently, he was vice
president of sales and marketing at Spray & Forget
Reptile Room owner Aron Morrison noted that live animal
sales are what fuel the herp products industry.