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Posted by Todd Evans on May 24, 2001 at 01:54:50:
In Reply to: Re: please read.... posted by BTL on May 23, 2001 at 19:16:16:
I do understand all of your comments and it does happen to us as well at West Hills. Last Moon show, a father and son came in about 3 days after the show and asked what to feed to a baby veiled. Unfortunately we weren't thinking at the time of the show to pick up some fruit fly cultures to sell to these poor people, so we were forced to give them the smallest crickets we could find. I haven't spoken to them since (I only work on Sundays) to see how the cham is doing.
The herp society does give advice at the shows (especially the employees of West Hills, mainly because they are already our customers) On all of our flyers the URL for the site is posted, so they can visit if they like. I also do the upkeep for the site, and noticed around the time of our last show that the counter increased by about 500. This also has to do with the links and Kingsnakes main page announcing "this weeks events," but regardless, people did and do visit.
The thing that people don't understand about PetSmart (and please don't take this as an insult, it's not meant to be) is that like you said, the employees don't know about the pets that people buy. With the way the market is today for reptiles and fish, anybody can go online, or to a reptile show and buy whatever they want. Our main argument is that snakes make wonderful pets (NOT ALL MIND YOU) and since PetSmart has taken the stance that they won't sell snakes, they won't teach their employees how to care for and give advise on snakes. I'll agree that lizards make wonderful pets (once again, NOT ALL LIZARDS) but in our experience, with customers, breeders, wholesalers, collectors, snakes are probably better than most commercially available lizards. I'd take a kingsnake over an iguana anyday for a first beginner reptile. I would also rather sell somebody a snake over a lizard (select few are fine, leopards, bearded dragons, but not babies, tokay's, hee hee just kidding)
Now I have never met you, although I would like to get together and talk about things someday, but the majority of people at PetSmart just irritate me when I ask them a question. I had been given a gift card for your store, so I went to see the reptile supplies, I figured I could get bedding or something. I saw that you carry mouse maker by T-Rex (I think) Now the question I had for the young lady was "Why do you sell mouse maker and not lizard maker?" I totally baffled the poor thing. Personally I don't know why they MAKE mouse maker, who would scent something to smell like a mouse if your goal is to get it eating mice????? Anyway, I explained to her that I had 3 baby Russels vipers that we were having trouble feeding. I explained that I wanted to attempt to scent a pinky ("A what?" was the response) with lizard maker to see if they would eat it. I thought she was going to hemmorage, she was so confused. I gave up and just bought cat food instead.
I understand that you are trying to change things, but as you said, it's impossible to change them on a corporate level. My stance is that the only way to improve PetSmart, is to get rid of it. They have published releases stating that reptiles shouldn't be kept as pets. They refuse to sell saltwater fish, and have taken a stance against the keeping of them. Even little stupid things, like the plant tanks......there is a metal haylide light over the tanks, which is great to make the tanks look healthy, but then the plants are accustomed to the intense light causing them to die rather quickly when put in a regular light situation, not to mention there was a goldfish in the plant tank....a coldwater fish being hit with 400 watts of direct light.....
I just find more and more things that I dislike about the store everytime I go there.
As you mentioned the employees don't know much about the animals that they don't sell, well frankly, that's pretty much what a pet store is all about. We sell the extras that go with outside purchases, therefore you need to know about those purchases. I can proudly say that on every shift at West Hills, there is an employee working that knows a little bit of something about everything, birds, reptiles, dogs, cats, fish (fresh and salt and brackish), rodents, arachnids. And even if the person that is asked the question can't answer it, they can find the answer that the customer is looking for. We will never leave a question unanswered, even if we have to call the people to answer it. We can even (most of the time anyway) answer questions about extreme exotics (primates, marsupials, waterfowl, whatever)
It just seems to me like the employees at PetSmart have a don't care attitude, except of course for you, you've proven that you care. It saddens me, and upsets me, mainly because this is the industry that I want to be a part of, and unfortunately giant stores are taking over the market. In my view (one shared by MANY reptile keepers) PetSmart will end up being the death of our hobby. It scares us.
Use this scenario, PetSmarts are going up daily nationwide, putting family run caring pet stores out of business. Then PetSmart decides to not carry reptiles of any kind, or their supplies (profits aren't high enough in the department) Next thing you know, people that go to reptile shows will have no place to go for the supplies. People then stop going to reptile shows, shows shut down, herp societies lose funding, breeders can't sell stock. Reptile keepers everywhere are now waiting for their investments and pets to just die off, with no hope of a future industry. I know this sounds far fetched, but that's what's happening. I know of about 4 pet stores that have closed due to the competition that PetSmart poses. If it wasn't for West Hills reputation and selection, we might have been one of them.
I could go on for hours about this issue, (I think I already have) but I'd rather do it in person. Maybe you could come visit sometime and take a look at our tanks and snakes. We'd love to have you. And you can see what we did with the saltwater tanks (4 in all)