This month I want to cover what has become an integral piece of the reptile hobby, the reptile show. While a huge hit amongst hobbyist, reptile shows around the nation have become an enemy in some retailer’s eyes. So I thought I’d interview the promoter of the largest reptile shows in the U.S., and also a former store owner, to get his take on it and try to bridge the gap between local shows and local stores.
Ramy Guirguis is the owner/promoter of the Reptile Super Shows on the west coast and also former owner of Reptile City in the San Diego area.
Rob: How did you get your start?
Ramy: When I was 15 years old I bought my first red tail boa and was hooked for life. I never looked back.
Rob: Do you still keep reptiles? What are you keeping?
Ramy: I had the largest collection of chahoua geckos in the country at one time but now I keep leachianus geckos and Spanish ribbed newts.
Rob: How many stores did you have and how many shows do you have?
Ramy: I had two stores called Reptile city for 10 years and I have three shows a year for the last 6 years.
Rob: As the owner of the Super Show, what do you feel is the relationship between shows and stores?
Ramy: I would hope it’s a positive. A lot of store owners actually set up booths at my shows and aside from that it’s a great place for them to buy more rare animals than they find on wholesale list and most are captive bred. It’s also a great place to connect with potential customers in a niche environment. Kind of like Comic Con, you have a lot of passionate people there.
Rob: What positives do stores gain though?
Ramy: Education. A lot of manufacturers have started showing new products at shows, you can see the latest animals and morphs and ask questions right to the breeders. You can meet authors. I remember reading books by Phillipe DeVosjoli as a kid learning about reptiles, now I can’t believe he’s behind a booth at my shows. I sometimes look at his hands in amazement, like right there, those are the hands that wrote hundreds of books and started so many careers, man…
Rob: What are the most important things you do as a very successful promoter?
Ramy: You know, I take care of my vendors and my customers and I take care of ‘em right. After owing the stores for so long, I’ve learned that customer service is always number one. Also, you know what’s the most important? The kids. They are the future.
Rob: Ram, you’re starting to sound like a Whitney Houston song.
Ramy: No but seriously bro, stores and breeders and anyone involved in the hobby of reptile keeping need to band together and educate our children on nature and the animals. They’re who pumps life into all our businesses. They’re also who will take care of the planet when we’re gone. Do you know there were over 280 videos on you tube for the super show and a lot of them were made by kids. That gets me pumped.
Questions or comments? Feel free to contact Rob at [email protected]
– Rob Stephenson