When it comes to furry critters, Barry Wisebram, vice
president of Atlanta-based Sun Pet Ltd. (booths 3932 and
3933), reported higher demand for guinea pigs and rabbits. He also sees more color variety in hamsters, which
represent an area his business is trending up in.
From Coast Tropicals (booths 4019 and 4021) in Gardena, Calif., president Mike Scott has found that while
large tanks and desktop tanks are gaining popularity,
and people love plug-and-play tanks with the simple,
hassle-free setup, live plant tanks have been performing
“They are definitely growing,” Scott said. “The plant-
ed tanks allow the hobbyist to have a beautiful living
piece of furniture that they can enjoy and not spend a lot
of money [on].”
Capitalizing on the trend, he said his company is “col-
lecting more of the dwarf-size fish, growing new plants
and bringing new fish to the market.”
Beyond promoting their new offerings, exhibitors
look forward to meeting current and potential customers
in person at SuperZoo.
“We love putting faces to names and meeting our
customers in person,” said Wesley, who has exhibited
at SuperZoo for about a decade. “We talk on the phone
year-round, so this is an opportunity for some one-on-
one face time, which is always great. It’s also nice to meet
new stores and answer questions.”
Scott agreed, adding that after seeing steady growth
year after year in the seven years he’s been at SuperZoo,
he believes the show has an important role in that growth.
In addition to socializing and building relationships
with current and potential customers, Wisebram said he
likes to see what other people in the category are doing.
He sees steady growth from exhibiting at SuperZoo each
year, and his goal this year is pushing out of his regional
delivery area and in to new markets.
At such a large show where dog and cat products tend
to dominate, Wesley finds that pet specialty retailers enjoy viewing the unique live offerings in Critter Alley.
“It’s not a surprise that stores love walking through
the only section of the show actually displaying live pets
and not stuffed toys,” he said.
Education is an important benefit at SuperZoo. By
taking time to stop in the booths and chat with the rep-
resentatives, retailers can get updated on the trends,
learn about the different animals and discover helpful
discounts, exhibitors said.
“I hope to capture a lot of attention with the intro-
duction of freshwater stingrays at the show,” Wai said.
“I invite pet retailers to come visit my booth and learn
more about these amazing animals, and hopefully it can
translate to increased demand and sales.”
Following the trend in dog and cat, Wisebram has
seen more specialty stores carry supplies only—no live-
stock, which does not support the hobby, he said.
“If it weren’t for the animals, people aren’t going to
sell the supplies for long,” Wisebram said. “Though caring for the animals is time-consuming, it supports the
“People need to support retailers caring for the animals, and retailers need to support the category as well,”
he added. “There’s lots of support for adoption, but
adoptions go away if no one’s breeding the animals.” ◊
As a pet specialty retailer, what is your favorite part of the day?
Loren Leigh: I really enjoy the beginning of the workday. It is exciting to work hands-on day
to day with the animals along with the people that have the same interests.
The animals are why I got into the reptile specialty part of the industry, and 20 years
later, it is still as fascinating as ever. I have always, since day one, been part of the animal
process of our company and enjoy getting my hands in enclosures, holding and caring for
animals, and tackling the many challenges of animal care. As a reptile specialty retailer, we
are always dealing with difficult animals, unique animals and breeding animals that give
us new insight into the advancement of our hobby, and I like being at the forefront of that
What are the most challenging aspects of what you do every day?
Leigh: Dealing with the changing patterns of the interest in animals and staying on top of
new animal trends is a challenging aspect. We deal with so many animal types, and our
customers are always looking for new animals to purchase. The tortoise consumer of today
is much different from the frog customer, as is the spider customer. In this specialty segment, they all get grouped together even though each is unique in many ways. And after
identifying what trends people are looking for in animals, stocking the proper items to care
for and feed that particular animal creates another challenge.
What’s the best compliment
you’ve received from a customer?
Leigh: I always teach my staff to
never forget the most important
part of what we do, and that is:
“We sell pets to people, parts of
their family.” It is a big responsibility, as that kid may have that snake for 30-plus years or that bearded dragon for 20
My favorite compliment is always when people point out how patient and thorough
my staff was in helping them and how, in the end, they got the perfect addition to the
We have a particular customer that comes by and sees me at every reptile show I do
in Los Angeles, three times a year for 20 years—one of the first customers I met when we
started LLLReptile. He comes to me, shakes my hand, shakes the hands of all staff members
and thanks us for everything we do for this hobby.
What makes your particular niche of the pet specialty market so unique and fun to be in?
Leigh: People that are in the reptile segment are so varied, and the interests are all over the
place. I love going to reptile expos and seeing the 8-year-old with a bearded dragon, the
40-year-old with 50 snakes he breeds at home, the 18-year-old that can tell you the scientific
names of all the scorpions in the world, the 22-year-old that photographs wild snakes every
weekend. Basically, people of all ages and interests can be found in this hobby.
It is also new in relationship to other segments of the pet industry. So everything we
breed, learn or do is new and exciting as the hobby advances. Overall, it is a community of
super-into-it hobbyists that live and breathe everything reptiles.
What’s the most notable change you’ve seen in pet specialty since you started out?
Leigh: The advancements of products and, in turn, the advancement of keeping. When we
started, we used an old fish tank, wire top, and Home Depot light fixture and bulb. Today,
there are thousands of product options advancing animal care further and further. Also, the
interest in animal types has changed. Everything used to be big—big iguana, big Burmese,
big boa. The hobby has now shifted to small frogs in vivariums, small snake species like
ball pythons and lizards like bearded dragons. ◊
LLLReptile’s animal-focused approach to selling pets means making
sure the right herps go home with the right owner.
Advancing the Hobby
IT’S A RETAIL LIFE
Locations: 5 ( 4 in Southern California, 1 in Las Vegas), 2 product fulfillment
warehouses and a breeding facility
Owner: Loren Leigh
Employees: 40 full time, 5 part time
Years in business: 20
Square feet: 1,700
Products and services: Everything needed to maintain, breed and house reptiles
as well as thousands of reptiles, frogs and arachnids. More than 6,000 reptile
products and hundreds of live reptile food options. The company attends and
displays at more than 30 reptile expos throughout the U.S. It has a wholesale
division, Vista Pet Supply.
Website: lllreptile.com and vistapetsupply.com
LLLReptile and Supply Co. At a Glance