Reptile Retailer Spotlight
Richard Allen has always been fascinated by reptiles, and with snakes in particular.
“As I got older, I took work in fields that required me to travel across the United States. Every new city I would visit as many pet stores as I could find, looking for unique reptiles. Every store I went to nobody seemed to know much about the reptiles they carried. Plus they all had basically the same stock,” Allen said. “I knew the only way I would know how to keep a great variety of reptiles was to read and study up on them on my own.”
After a few years of broadening his knowledge and keeping a variety of reptiles, the desire to own his own store took root. With the support of his wife, Cheryl, Allen quit his job managing an armored car company and took work where he could raise the money he would need to open a business. As it turns out, Allen was willing to sacrifice a lot to make his dream a reality. He started working 12- to 14-hour shifts, six days a week, as a garbage man. At the same time, he kept his own reptile breeding projects going at home and would take his days off to attend reptile shows and sell his stock. Before long, he had raised enough money to focus on his dream full time. That was when he launched Reptile Rapture online in 2008 and opened his 500-square-foot store on December 1.
“Before we knew it, four months later, we added another 100 square feet, taken from the store next to us. Our business was growing so rapidly that three months later, when the other store next to us went out of business, we jumped at the chance to knock down a wall. This added another 1,900 square feet to give us our current size of 2,500 square feet. This expansion allowed us to double our retail space, add a warehouse and a reptile and rodent breeding facility in the back.”
One of the things that makes Reptile Rapture unique is that they focus on reptiles alone and not other pets. “We try and offer the largest variety possible. All of our animals are provided with the proper heating, lighting and watering, and are fed both food and supplements on a daily basis. No shortcuts allowed.”
Allen states right up front that he wants to be known for quality animals and care. And he doesn’t seem to mind putting in the long hours to make it happen. Then again, when asked about the time he spends on the job, he just replies, “What job? I work with what I love all day. That’s not to say it’s all cake. We are here seven days a week, starting early in the morning, and most nights we don’t leave until midnight. Some of that is my choice. I am always finding ways to improve the store and do things better. My family and co-workers are tired of me finishing one project and immediately starting another one, but in the end, they are always happy with the results.”
Somehow, I don’t think his loyal customers will ever tire of it. REPTILES