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Price Isn't Everything

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by xenesthis, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. xenesthis

    xenesthis Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Low prices don't mean they are a great dealer!

    Just because you got something for cheap doesn't mean the dealer is great. In fact, G. pulchra spiderlings sell for $25-$35 on average. Letting them go for $5 shows a certain attitude that they are just "stupid bugs" to them. This attitude is common in the herp world. You might have gotten a great deal in your mind, but practices like that kills the value on that species, hurts captive breeding programs in which when Breeder "John Doe" finally produces G. pulchra (which isn't easy to do), you and others will NOT want to pay him the normal, average price for G. pulchra spiderlings, because you will remember you got yours for so cheap. Also, in the U.S., too many animal keepers will equate price tag with quality. If you get something for dirt cheap, it must be dirt or better said a "trash animal". With that said, keepers will not read up and/or buy a good book at it, keep it in a nice tank/enclosure and care for it well. There thinking is something like, "Hell, it only cost me $5. So, what it died, I'll just get another one. " I've heard this line way, way too many times.

    There are a few dealers, mainly reptile ones and about three invert ones that do this currently. They are not looking at the long-term effects of such pricing practices and don't do hardly any captive-breeding themselves, so they don't give a hoot about what that does to kill the incentive and financial motivation for a breeder to invest heavily in a species just to finally produce it and see a dealer sell it for so cheap. This also hurts invert importers trying to obtain new species for the hobby. They have to worry some dealer like this will kill the value of something overnight. What this does for the hobby is decrease the variety of species available on the market.

    Anyway, I wanted to expose this problem. There is this growing mentality that cheap prices mean everything. In evaluating a dealer, I think you need to look at ALL the below things:

    1) Knowledge - do they know their animals that they are selling?, or are they good BS artists that will tell you whatever you want to hear to make the sell. This is one of the most important traits to look for. Very few dealers really know a lot about what they are selling. Maybe 3 or 4 out of the 20 or so currently selling in the trade right now. Do they belong to professional organizations, write in hobby publications and generally show an geniune interest in furthering their knowledge of these animals?

    2) Quality - Are their animals well-fed, no mites, no fungus infestation, no bacteria, packed in clean tissues or substrate, etc.? Are the missing legs or other body parts? Do they have strange "bumps" on their abdomens? Are their mouths clean without obstruction of anything?

    3) Identification -Do they know the latin names of what they are selling? Do they get their animals from suppliers that sell things corrected identified with latin names? Do they care and keep up with taxonomy changes? Do they make up their own names? Are their shipped cups/bottles labeled? Do they often mix-up their name labels in their shop? Do they know and work well with arachnologists and taxonomists? To they have lots of reference publications on-hand to assist in confirming IDs?

    4) Sizes - Do they grossly over-estimated legspans? Do they sell you a spiderling that they charged you an adult on?

    5) Sexing - Do they know how to sex their animals with BSing? How much can they tell you about this? What guarantees to they provide and honor concerning this?

    6) Experience - How long have they been breeding, importing, selling, feeding, unpacking and packing these types of animals? Are they familiar with a wide variety of these types of animals or only a few of one group or type? Do they understand, study and can predict these types of animals behaviors and tell you why they do what they do?

    7) Packing/shipping - You could have great animals, but if you don't know how to pack, that won't matter. This is a HUGE problem with a few dealers. I think 50% of the problem is the attitude towards the animals being shipped. The other 50% is not using good packing techniques.

    8) Customer service - Are the nice and pleasant to talk to? Do they answer all of questions? Do they provide care information on everything they sell? Do they encourage you to buy and read publications to better educate yourself? What are they guarantees? Is their price list, web site, brochures easy to read and understand. Are they responsive to emails, phone calls and faxes?

    9) Pricing - Are their prices competitive? Is there a good mix of prices, somethings are cheap, some are high value, etc. (Note: A red flag should go up in your mind if their whole list has cheap prices. This means that can't compete except on price alone, or something is wrong with that stock, or they are probably are just hardcore herpers that just want to get rid of these stupid "bugs" and get their $$$.) Do their prices go up and down on the same species of the same lifestage in a relatively short time frame very frequently? Do the respect captive breeders and programs that are related by not devaluing a species with letting them go for dirt cheap or overly importing way too many or overly producing a species in a short time frame?

    These are the qualities and traits one should be looking at. Notice my #9 and dead last in importance was pricing. Price is not everything!!!

    Todd Gearheart
    "The Cutting Edge of Arachnoculture"
  2. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    A thoughtful post, but you're preaching to the choir, mate.

  3. TheEternal

    TheEternal Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I'd just like to add, since this seems to be addressed to me, that the $5 G. pulchras I got were 1/2" captive bred spiderlings. Each is insanely healthy. They were so cheap because the dealer had just bred them and was trying to get rid of them (500 or so spiders aren't the easiest thing to sell). Also, the prices are usually much lower at conventions. I doubt this is their normal selling price.

  4. earthVSspider

    earthVSspider Arachnopeon


    wow, awesome deal, hey when i eventualy begin some breeding i'm gonna sell my slings for super cheap, I don't know would 15-25 a sling sound good regardless of species?
  5. Swifty

    Swifty Arachnobaron Arachnosupporter

    Well, no offense people, but Todd is right. G. pulchra is far too nice and popular species for such a low price. I can't even get these wholesale for $5. 500 spiderlings sounds like alot, but if you have the proper methods of keeping large #'s of slings, it really isn't that tough. Sell me some Bryan! ha ha!
  6. MrDeranged

    MrDeranged He Who Rules Staff Member

    Wow, not only Todd, but Kelly too. Welcome guys to the Arachnoboards. :)

    I agree with you both that $5.00 is way way cheap for G. pulchra. They're not that common in the trade and should have a higher price than this. On the other hand, as you both know, any business works on a scale of supply and demand. If the supply is less than the demand, then prices go up. If the supply is greater than the demand, then prices go down. Apparently, Glades had more G. pulchra slings than they could handle, so to increase the demand, they dropped the price. Think of it this way, instead of giving a $5 or $10 sling as a freebie, they seriously marked down the price of the pulchra. Personally, I don't think that this is going to have any long term effects on the price of pulchra's. From what I understand, they're not that easy to breed and are always in fairly decent demand due to their coloration, temperment and size. I'm sure most of the slings have been picked up already at that price and now prices will stabilize once again. I've gotten all kinds of slings at dirt cheap prices or even free when the dealer has had a sac hatch out recently and want's to move stock. Maybe the $5.00 pulchra's were a marketing ploy to get people to their table to buy other more expensive tarantulas? Who knows?

  7. MrDeranged

    MrDeranged He Who Rules Staff Member

    BTW, would you care to let the rest of us mere mortals in on the secret? :D

  8. Swifty

    Swifty Arachnobaron Arachnosupporter

    Well, it does take a bit of time, of course, but it's the job, so I can handle the teadiousness of it. Basically I have racks that hold on the average 40, 7 dram vials, some have 12 drams, some up to 40 drams that I buy in bulk. I feed and water a row of racks each day (usually consisting of 15 or so racks) and put a flag were I left off, so I can resume the next day, until I return to the first rack, and row. I am currently taking care of just over 3000 sling alone, not counting my private breeders, and future juvi's being raised up, that consist of approx 500 spiders. The key is to always have proper food for many different sized animals, so you have to raise prey animals yourself. All in all, it is teadious, but I have to confess, sometimes I will bring a row of racks into the house, kick back and feed slings while I watch those stupid court shows! They are a hoot!
  9. TheEternal

    TheEternal Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Glad to know I'm not the only one that watches court shows while feeding my spiders ;)

  10. MrDeranged

    MrDeranged He Who Rules Staff Member

    I watch wrestling most of the time myself. That may be due to the fact that I do feedings and maintenance on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. :)

  11. Wade

    Wade Arachnoking Old Timer

    I used to watch Mystery Science Theatre 3000 while I worked the bug room, but I no longer have cable :(

  12. xenesthis

    xenesthis Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Devalue of a species/ descreased demand

    Scott and others:

    I strongly disagree with your statement of "Personally, I don't think that this is going to have any long term effects on the price of pulchra's."

    It will initially, and if a few more dealers/breeders do the same pricing practice, it will have long term effects. Let me give you a perfect example. These numbers are guesses, but the princple remains the same of what I'm trying to illlustrate:

    1) There are around 260,000 or more people living in the U.S. (No, I'm not counting all the illegals! :)

    2) Of that lot, maybe 5,000 keep invertebrates.

    3) Of that lot, maybe 3,000 keep tarantulas.

    4) Of that lot, maybe 500 keep Poecilotheria spp.

    5) Of that lot, maybe 50 keep P. subfusca.

    Now, when "X" breeder sell his freshly-hatched P. sufusca for $5 instead of the average market price of $90-$100, those 50 P. subfusca keepers will find out about that and buy all that he has. Now, this guy has made his money overnight and he is very content. BUT!, when Joe Blow breeder hatches his out and trys to sell them for the normal, average market price, there is NO DEMAND. Why? Because the market is already satisfied. Those that want this species already got them for cheap and also, they remember the cheap $5 price and now consider what was average, normal market price to be "expensive". So, what happens, in the long run, is the next hatchout is sold for even less and less, and soon enough this animal because "trash". The only way it will recover its value is thru natural causes of eggsacs not hatching and breedings not happening.

    Now, I know P. subfusca isn't the greatest example to use to illustrate my point, but lets look a G. pulchra in detail.

    This species is only imported as adults periodically (maybe 2 times a year) by one to three importers. Only 25, 50 and maybe 100 come in. Wholesale prices on juvs to small adults run $35-$50. Retailers will sell them $75-$150. Now, the Grammostola genus in general isn't that difficult to actually breed, but being a temperate species, they are very seasonal with their egg production and laying of eggsac times. So, in short, it is a rarity to see captive-born Grammostola and even Aphonopelma spp. Also, they are slow-growing and very tiny, so any large, yearling spiderlings have some time, upkeep and food in them from a breeder and therefore, should not be solf for dirt cheap. If so, this totally kills the incentive of the breeder to breed those genera and raise up spiderlings.

    G. pulchra averages 450 to a maximum of 800 spiderlings. In the last ten years, I can count on both hands the number of G. pulchra sacs I've known hatched in the U.S. and Western Europe. I can count on one hand the number hatched in the U.S. hobby. Now, with all this in mind, letting go G. pulhcra for $5 to get your quick $$$ overnight shows no respect for this hobby what-so-ever in my book. I deliberately thumbs a finger a breeders's incentives to work with this species.

    I often tell young, up and coming breeders, don't go for the quick sell, don't worry about trying to sell your whole sac overnight or in the first month. Raise up 1/4 to 1/2 of our sac and when they start showing adult color, people will definitely buy them, especially at expos. Also, if you can't handle the load of feeding and maintaing 500 + spiderlings, "farm" them out to other hobbyists to help you and offer them a stipend for selling them back to you for their time and feeding they put into them. That way, you both get paid for what time and resources you got in them. Last resort, trade them. Dealers are always in the market to accept and do trades. Even with other hobbyists, just keep the market value steady on the species when you do the trades, but bottom line, just don't "dump" on the market stuff in high quantity and super cheap prices marked down 90% from the average market price. It shows you have no respect for captive breeding programs and have no respect for the long-term success of our hobby.

  13. TheEternal

    TheEternal Arachnoprince Old Timer

    (hopefully this works)

    Here's a picture of one of the baby G. pulchras, if anyone's curious :)


  14. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Arachnopeon


    It looks just like mine!!! Imagine that!!!

    As for the $5 debate - Glades got a new customer because of their $5 g.pulchas - ME. So who knows how much $$ I'll throw their way eventually.
  15. MrDeranged

    MrDeranged He Who Rules Staff Member

    Re: Devalue of a species/ descreased demand

    Let's look at this example but lets add a few things.

    Lets say the sac was small with only 200 slings.

    Now of course word gets around quick in this hobby so lets say that 3 dealers heard about this amazing $5. P. subfusca and each bought 40. Right there is over 50 percent of the hatchout that will be turned right around and sold for either normal or slightly under normal retail.

    So what about the other 47 people, well lets say that only 20 were able to make it to the show and they each bought four. There goes the entire sac and guess what, the demand still hasn't dried up yet, there's still 27 people out there who need subfusca's and the only people that have the for sale are the 6 dealers.... I don't think that they're gonna be charging $5.00 a piece do you?

    Now lets go back to the 80 that were sold to the 20 private collectors/breeders that happened to be at the show. Out of the 20, lets say 5 were just people who knew what an insane deal that was and picked up a few to grow up a bit and sell as adults in a year or two for about $300.

    That leaves 15.

    10 Of these are idiots who think they can just buy a bunch of spiders and start breeding them once they hear what the slings can be sold for. Out of these 10 you probably have 5 that will kill them all off not knowing how to take care of subfusca properly, 4 that might actually successfully raise any of their slings to adulthood, let alone breed them and 1 who somehow got a mature female to breed his mature male with and actually got a viable sac out of it. Now is he going to go rent a table at a show to just sell one kind of spider, laying out money from his own pocket? No. Is he going to post a classifieds ad on someones forum? Quite probably. Now what's gonna happen at that point. Well, someone with a brain is going to know what these T should be going for, what are we going to do? Offer this guy double what he's asking for and buy the whole lot to sell retail. They're not gonna stay on the open market at that price for long and you and I both know it. Some dealer will swoop in and buy them all up.

    That leaves 5 actual people with some breeding experience besides the dealers who have these $5.00 subfusca's in their possession. Now lets say that out of these 5 people 3 get viable sacs. What are they gonna do with them? Sell them for $5.00 a piece? I don't think so, they're gonna sell them to dealers for probably $10 or $15 a piece because they have a clue and the dealers will mark them up to the normal prices at that time.

    Now truthfully, I think my scenario is just as valid as yours is. I never said that I think it's right for the hobby, and I think that if it happened all the time, it would be a bad thing, but once in a while to get a deal that's too good to pass up isn't gonna hurt anything and may actually help by getting some species out to people who may not have heard of them before, thereby generating interest in a lesser known species which will increase demand which will raise the prices on the remaining slings... So in actuality, a $5. P. subfusca once in a while may be a good thing.

    Just my $5.00 ;)


    BTW, my $5.00 T's get the same care as my $50.00 T's. There's no such thing as a Junk Spider in my book and I'm sure that's the same for many people out there.
  16. TheEternal

    TheEternal Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I'd just like to add, Todd, that you sold me an A. versicolor for $10 and a L. parahybana for $3 when I last saw you. No offense, just pointing out that it's something you seem to have done to some degree, as well.

  17. belewfripp

    belewfripp Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Some random responses to various things people have said:

    - certainly low prices don't necessarily mean someone's a great dealer, you do have to look at the total package.

    However, let's take a look at an example from where I live. There are two pet stores around here that I am at more often than others, we'll call them Pet Store A and Pet Store B. B I only go to when A is closed, and only for feeder items. A is where I do all of my animal purchases. A is uniformly lower in price on everything from aquarium filters to tailless whipscorpions. However, B is uniformly clueless on how to take care of just about eveything. Until recently, one could find $45 A. seemanni being kept on dry sand with a water dish containing only a sponge, plus crickets running all over the tank (they have finally wisened up some as my wife had a talk with them awhile back). Store A on the other hand keeps their spiders and other animals in the proper environments, is fantastic even with providing advice and medical care and is staffed with knowledgeable and caring people. The point here is that while a low price doesn't necessarily make someone a great dealer, a high price doesn't necessarily mean you're getting quality, either. In my own situation, the store with the lowest prices in town is also the best pet store I've ever been in.

    -- I'm currently trying some breeding projects, but mostly just doing it to propagate the species in captivity. When/if I get slings, some will be traded to store A from above for store credit, and the rest will be sold to dealers. I'm not interested in selling on the private market and becoming a dealer myself. Profit isn't what I'm going for so getting them to people who are in the actual business of selling Ts would seem to avoid some of the problems associated with selling them as a dealer myself (i.e. I don't want to feed 500 slings, so of course they'd be cheap. I'd rather not flood the open market with them if I can avoid it.)

    -- I'm not a real big proponent of the cheap price makes people disrespect the animal point of view, but there is one spider that I think suffers from this, and that's G. rosea. The rosehair gets no respect; they can be some of the most gorgreous spiders, especially red-morphs, and they are certainly eccentric enough that I wouldn't call them boring. But the fact they get imported by the bucket load and sell for tiny amounts has reduced their value in the eyes of the average person to just about zilch. How many times have you seen a person ask what spider they should start with but request that no one suggests G. rosea, because "they're boring" or whatever? Personally, I'd like to cut importation by 75%, get captive breeding going, and shoot the price of G. rosea through the roof, but that's just me.

    -- I wish I could watch wrestling while I feed the Ts but they're in a totally seperate room from our televisions. Being a wrestling junkie has made feeding time an exercise in pure speed. I usually have some animal that needs feeding (we have a lot more than just the 66 tarantulas) and I rarely get home from work before 5:30pm, so I'm racing to get everything fed and taken care of before Raw/Smackdown/Heat/PPV comes on.

  18. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    Amen on the G.rosea front! I love these spiders -- they may not be gorgeous but they've got personality. I have now got four of them -- and each one comes with a little story (okay, so two are the same story, but still). I even named two of them Mary Jane and Peter (spiderman and MJ). PLUS I have managed to get Peter and MJ to mate, along with Peter and another female. I'm currently waiting a while before trying my luck with Peter and female #3. Whether or not I get any s'lings out of it, the experience of mating these spiders has been exhilerating. My G.rosea certainly don't take a back-seat to any of the spiders in my collection.

    As for wrestling, let's just say that my television tastes differ. ;)

  19. Vayu Son

    Vayu Son Avatar of Anansi Old Timer


    I also have gotten spiders for %50 less or more than they will be found on the open market. Adult females, spiderlings, everything. The dealers i purchase from are knowledgeable, helpful, and usually either cannot sell the spider locally, or has no time to care for them, or is just doing me a favor as a frequent customer. In my eyes this does not lower the value of an animal. It does make rarer animals more accessable to the normal population, and some of those animals may be very extreme and active ambassadors to someone previously undeducated.

    The way a spider is percieved is more of how it is introduced from the dealer, and also a relys heavily on the individual. Someone who does not appreciate life may compare these spiders to cards or collectables, with "trash" animals that can be easily replaced. This shouldnt matter on the species of arachnid. Whether its a G.rosea or a G.pulchra shouldnt matter, its still an animal. Just because i can get an usumbara from swift for $10 doesnt mean its less of an animal than the $95 ivory ornamentals. Does it mean the dealer values usumbaras less? probably not.

    If i purchase a female C.cyanopubescens for a cheaper price, and find her a mate, and produce slings which i also sell for a lower price, does that automatically make me an incompetent dealer who hates greenbottle blues? Nope. its a persons right to sell what they want to sell for. It doesnt mean they hate the dealers and want to flood the market. If anything it means more spiders living here, which means less market for importation and more % of survival when their natural habitat is completely destroyed.

    Swift is a great dealer, so is johhn hoke, and todd seems competent as well. But when you send someone a spider do you also send an instruction manual on captive breeding the T's? Do you ask them to log the purchase so that the spider they produce isnt inadvertently mated with one from the same batch, and produce a weaker generation of the same spider? Do you warn them of bite hazards when you send pokeys? You may or may not, i dont know. But their are many ways to ensure that more spiders live and more spiders are produced succesfully than arguing about cheap G.pulchras. I respect the need for your market, but you cant regulate every sale.

    As far as lack of care is concerned and misnamed spiders with cheap dealers...that is horribly wrong and it is a shame, but will inevitably be present in any market. The more you educate the every day collector, the more it works for you in the end. People will not buy from someone whom they are sure is a fake, or sells illegal WC animals, or whom they find is less educated than themselves on the subject. Thus ensuring the prosperity of competent dealers.

  20. MrDeranged

    MrDeranged He Who Rules Staff Member

    Very Well Said!!!