Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not Just Another Reptile Shop

I was down in Florida back in early September and it was raining and coming down hard on my last morning in sunny West Palm Beach. I almost cancelled my plans for a drive down to Deerfield Beach but as suddenly as the rain had begun it ended. That sealed it, and I was on the road before the rain could start again and get me to change my mind. The ride was a fairly short one, about 33 miles, maybe 35 or 40 minutes and yes there was more rain along the way but nothing like it had been raining before I left my aunt and uncle’s home in WPB.

When I arrived in Deerfield Beach, the roads were wet and the parking lots were flooded. I knew about the parking lots because I made two wrong turns and had to turn around in them to get going right. I was pretty surprised, some spots in the lots had about 5 or 6 inches of water in them. That did not deter me though, I only had a mile or so to go to reach my destination. Once I was oriented in the right direction, I was there in a few minutes.

The there I am talking about was
Ben Siegel Reptiles on Hillsboro Boulevard. The shop is in a new location a bit further west along Hillsboro than it used to be. One of the turn offs made into one of those flooded parking lots had been at the old location. Like that other parking lot, the one at the new location was also flooded. I guess they had gotten the same rain that had hit further north in WPB that morning. Luckily, I found a parking spot right in front of the store and it was relatively high and dry. As I walked up to the front door of the store, I could see it all looked pretty new. They did not have a real sign, instead they had a banner saying: Reptiles (or was it Reptile Store - whichever, you get the idea). They had another sign too, this one on the inside of the front door. It said CLOSED. I tried the door it was locked.

I peered inside and saw all he lights were on. I did not see anyone in there though. I was pretty disappointed especially since I had checked their hours and they were supposed t be open at that time. I was just starting to walk away when two other folks walked up, paying no attention to the CLOSED sign and just opened the other of the two doors and walked in. I followed after them, then saw a clerk in the back and asked if they were open for business and he said ‘We sure are”. I told him about the sign and he fixed it. I took a look around the store.

Once inside, I noted the store is a small to medium sized shop. It was clean at first glance and that is always a plus in any type of store but especially in one that deals in animals. I looked at the various reptiles and amphibians in each enclosure and I noticed that not only was the store itself clean, so too were the herp enclosures. As I was walking around looking at the Veiled Chameleons, the Ball Pythons, various Corn Snakes, Northern Pine Snake, Dione’s Rat Snake, Chrondos, Black Headed Python, Bearded Dragons, Black Throated Monitors, single Green Iguana, Mantella frogs, Cuban Tree Frogs, and others - a lady came in and started to question the clerk as to what he was doing. He pulled out what I think was a checklist of his duties and started reading off what he had done, what needed yet to be done and what he was doing. I was pretty impressed by this guy - he seemed to be doing a really good job of cleaning up the store right after it had opened for the day. By the way, they opened at 1100 and it was probably about 1130 or noon at the latest when I arrived. His list included things such as check animals, clean enclosures, do a mite check and on and on. All good signs that this place will remain clean and therefore be more likely to be selling healthy herps.

While I shopped around, he asked me a couple of times if I could use any help. Not pushy at all, just trying to make sure the customer was okay. I told him I was still shopping around and he left it at that the second time. Some of the animals I saw in the shop were on the impressive side. For example, the Black headed Python, while still a juvenile, was pretty nice looking even if it was gong for $900 (which is probably the going price). They also had some excellent Womas and they were going for a mere $250, which is pretty low for Womas Pythons though I will admit their prices have come down over the past couple of years. Some of the Green tree Pythons were also excellent specimens and also had reasonable retail prices. Translucent Veiled Chameleons were also noteworthy. They had normal coloration on most of their bodies but their legs were a pale, almost translucent pink. I imagine if enough light were coming from behind the legs, you would see some of it shine through them. Of course the shop also sol animals with more down to earth prices for us poorer or tighter herpers like those I mentioned above.

All in all I was pretty impressed with the store, just about the same as I have been the few times I have dealt with Ben Siegel Reptiles online. All in all, I have to say, they are not just another reptile and amphibian shop, they truly seem to be a top notch reptile and amphibian dealer. I would not hesitate to deal with them in the future. Nope, no purchases while I was there but if they would have had any of the
Bumblebee Toads they had recently, well I would have been sorely tempted to bring home something new for my collection.

All the best,
Glenn B

First Soldiers' Holiday Care Package

The first Soldiers' Holiday care package probably will get mailed out today or tomorrow. I had planned to do it over this past weekend but got busy with other stuff early Saturday and the Post Office was closed by the time I got back home. These are the items I bought before receiving any donations, if I remember right they cost about $56.00. I am still in the process of shopping for more things with the money I have received in donations. To date I have received $110.46 after PayPal took its cut from the $115.00 of total donations that were sent to my account. So, $110.46 is what I have to use for the next package or two plus whatever else I throw in of my own and I always do that. As usual, I also am paying all shipping costs out of my own pocket.

Hopefully I will get to do some shopping this week but if not I'll do it on this coming weekend. I get a lot of the items for the care packages at Costco. It is a good place for price and for buying items that come in packages that are family sized. That way there is usually plenty to go around when the troops open the box.

As you can see in the photo, most of the items are family sized. There is a box of Tootsie Roll Pops, a Hershey's Variety Pack, a Quaker Chewy Variety Pack, a 36 pack of Duracell AA batteries, and a three pack of wool blend socks. I figure the chocolate bars are okay at this time of the year because it is getting cold and they probably won't melt in transit; hope I am right. Everything else will be fine for sure and I am sure all will be appreciated.

Some of the other things I plan to put in future care packages are more wool blend socks, other snack items, toiletry items, reading material, some folding knives for my assigned soldier's unit, and any special request items (within reason and budget) that my soldier or his unit ask us to send to them. I will keep you all advised as I go along.

Before I close let me send out some thanks to those who have donated so far:

Al S.
James R.
Aaron S.
Michael S.

You gentlemen are the greatest.

As I have said before, if you want to donate don't be bashful. You don't need to donate a lot to make a difference. Whatever you can spare goes to help put a smile on some soldiers' faces. If you want to donate, there is a PayPal link on the upper right side of my blog in the red field. All money I receive, after PayPal takes their fee, goes toward the purchase of contents for the care packages, I pay all shipping costs out of my own pocket. Thanks again.

All the best,
Glenn B