We had the good fortune of connecting with Loren Leigh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Loren, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I was in my early years of college the web was starting to become what it has today. I was a reptile fanatic and was breeding some lizards for hobby. I was also working a small start up reptile business at the time as well. I saw at this time a ever increasing interest in the reptile hobby and also saw a radical shift of them not just becoming more popular but slowing becoming mainstream. The stereo typed big burly guy with tattoos and his big python in the backroom was becoming the 9 year old kid with a pac-man frog in living room. As this shift in interest and consumer began, the massive interest in the reptile hobby, the internet, the croc hunter on TV making reptiles famous I saw a opportunity to fuse all this together around a brick n mortar store and online presence. I also had attended trade events specific to this segment of the pet industry as well as consumer shows so I had a unique understanding of what was popular throughout the US.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are unique in that we are a pet chain that specializes in just reptiles. We have stuck to the hobby that has supported us along the way and have been rewarded with being one of the largest and most respect in our field. We deal with all types of interesting animals – Lizards, Snakes, Turtles & Tortoise, Spiders & Scorpions & Bugs, Chameleons, Frogs & Toads to name just a few. We are a 7 store chain in AZ, CA and NV with 3 warehouse in Southern California for our online sales as well as the production of Captive bred reptiles and Bugs. On top this we operate a wholesale division supplying other retailors and attend over 30 reptiles Expos a year. What sets us apart is our unique focus on our segment. We sell 100’s of different types of species ranging from entry level to very advance and rare and 1000’s of products to support them. Because of our online site and expos we attend we are able to supply people in area’s were there might not even be a pet store let alone a reptile store. What also makes us unique is that we sell not only the animals, but all the equipment needed to care from them and all the feed that may require as well. And this is in store and mail order. And lastly our staff. We have a great staff of die hard reptile hobbyists that are so excited to spread the joy of what we do with our customers.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would tackle it in 2 parts. Touristy but a must see and secret sites. Zoo and Balboa park. Lunch at Lucho Libre dinner Craft and Commerce La Jolla Cover, go in some high end shops and walk the cove and see seals. Oceanside, beer crawl. So many awesome bar, drink local favs dinner. Fallbrook (my home town) hit up 127 for beer and food, wine at Fallbrook winery Trip to Julian, hike the area, eat apple pie and better yet Apple Pie pancakes
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The first person that deserves credit and so much recognition is my wife and kids. My wife has pushed and supported my efforts and has always been a major source of motivation. And my kids, for there love of the outdoors, nature and reptiles. They remind me the importance of what we really do here and that is make pet parent and pet families. And a book, for sure. Zappo’s Delivering Happiness was so spot on to everyone I wanted my company to be and the culture that I wanted to strive for so we could make the best job and the best place to work possible.