So in Part I we discussed some of things that are critical to the continued growth of the Ball Python Market or hobby. I believe this hobby is just beginning and in the future there will be a lot of breeders who will surpass some of the current big names in the game both in morph production as well as in profitability. One thing that has been consistent throughout my 18 years in the game is people continue to underestimate the Ball Python market. Many of my former co-workers have always thought me to be crazy when they find out that I’m a snake breeder… you know the typical response based primarily in ignorance. The fact is over the past 18 years I have done over 5 Million dollars in sales with my little hobby business. As many of you know this is a low overhead business with high profit margins. My accountant was always surprised each year he went through my books. So yeah I’m cray cray… and you guys are normal, lol. Now of course you would expect the general public to underestimate the earning potential and growing popularity of the hobby, but the ball python market is often underestimated by those in the thick of it.
The Ball Python Market is Crashing!
This is a bubble!
Ball Pythons suck… they will all be $5 soon. Haha!
Morph King is destroying the market! (Do you guys remember Morph King?)
If you’ve been around for a few years, you heard all the negativity from the nay-sayers and haters… Over the years I have heard it all and year after year I just kept doing my thing and turning great profits. Do a google search for “Ball Python market crash” and you’ll get all kinds of forum posts. Go read them… tell me what you think. The fact is Ball Python genetics are amazing and have so much untapped combo potential that it’s really hard for the human mind to grasp. Ball Pythons are also the perfect size and very easy to care for and breed once you figure them out and accept the fact that they will fast. You can house a decent sized collection in relatively small space and produce cool income generating babies with only a few hours of work each week. If you love working with snakes the way I do, these will be the best few hours of the week. I mean, it just doesn’t get old. So I think one thing is certain whether you like it or not, Designer Ball Pythons are here to stay and will continue to amaze for decades to come.
So anyone who has been doing Ball Pythons for more than 10 years has lived through a “crash” or two. I believe these crashes are healthy adjsutments and are always followed by bull markets and strong profits. Here’s my simplified take on the Ball Market cycle…
Phase 1, The Hardcore: The Hardcore Enthusiasts takes the time, energy and patience to produce some amazing new combos irregardless of the market. This type of dedication can only be fueled by passion and a deep love of working with these amazing snakes. These enthusiasts treasure these new snakes and will only sell them at TOP dollar if at all. Lots of money is what it will take for the Hardcore Enthusiast to part with their cool combos. The prices can be extraordinary and upwards of $100,000. Most people think yeah right… ok. But guess what, the excitement is contagious and believe it or not, there are actually people out there who can afford these high price tags. The Hardcore started with some of the pioneers of the game like Bob Clark, Kevin McCurley, Ralph Davis, etc. Over the years this group has grown and continues to evolve. Its not easy to maintain this level of commitment and the Hardcore come and go. These guys and gals always blow us away with their new creations and generate the excitement, the fuel that drives market. Hats off to you guys.
Phase 2, The Flame: Now that the Big Boys have created some serious excitement and are making big bucks for their efforts demonstrating the potential, more Enthusiasts enter the fray. Maybe they can’t afford the Big Price tagged items, but they can afford some of the lower end items priced between $1000-$5000. They now see the genetic potential and would LOVE to produce some cool stuff of their own. At this point the market is heating up and sales are good. Most of the Big Boys from Phase 1 are sold out.
Phase 3, The Blaze: At this point more and more hard-core enthusiasts are entering the market. Some of them are just hobbyists who could care less about profit while others want to produce cool animals and make a profit too. This group of enthusiasts are not likely to mass produce and will keep their prices high simply because they genuinely treasure their animals. At this point the market is solid, steady prices, great profits and low inventory. Everyone is having a blast.
Phase 4, The Gold Rush: Now enters the investors… all of the great sales and high profit margins have caught the attention of the investor. This new influx includes people who may like Ball Pythons, but their main objective is profit. Say what you want about these guys, but this is when the Market goes nuts! This is like a shark infested feeding frenzy! Phase 4 is when profits are through the roof and sales are at their best. At this time you have enthusiasts and investors competing for genetics. Everyone who has babies is loving it… not only are they making good money, but they are also reinvesting further strengthening the demand.
Phase 5, The Buyers Market: I think you guys know what’s coming right? LOL, it’s inevitable. In this cycle of the market everyone has increased their production to meet the insane demand. The investors start to hatch their offspring and although the sales are still steady you start to see consistent inventory. Sales start to die down, but breeders are eventually selling everything and are still doing well. Now there is more than one breeder selling the snake your after and the seller’s market begins to turn into a buyers market. Price pressure starts.
Phase 6, The Crash: As the increased inventory slows down sales, the guys who are used to posting and selling their animals right away begin to panic. I mean if it doesn’t sell right away, something is wrong right? Of course the smart thing to do is drop the price every week until the damn thing sells, right? At this point you start seeing auctions and crazy price ranges. One breeder is listing a snake for $3000 while another is listing the same exact combo for $1500 while yet another just auctioned one at $800! WTF! Now the guys who were shopping for that combo have no clue what the true market value is. This uncertainty in value prevents the shopper from buying anything. The genius who thought that they would simply drop the price to stimulate more sales finds that their price cuts have had the opposite effect. The investor who could really give two shits about the cool new morph they produced also starts to slash prices and run auctions. Sales grind to a screeching halt for most. Only the coolest and most unique combos are still selling… these buyers are usually the Hardcore Enthusiasts from Phase 1. Its’s at this stage you can pick up some really cool genes for CHEAP!
Phase 7, The Purge: At this point some breeders have a ton of babies that have not sold. All their time, energy and resources are dedicated to taking care of last years babies so they may not even breed the following season. Quite a few breeders, especially the investors get out altogether feeling disgusted and discouraged about the market. Inventory begins to get thin with the reduced production, but the hardcore guys are still at it working steadily with all the new and cheap acquisitions that they picked up during the bloodbath that was Phase 6….Then Phase 1 begins all over again.
In closing let me say that the length of time of each phase has varied over the years. I have never been able to accurately predict when the next Phase will kick in. We have been in a strong market for quite some time now and I believe this has been the longest bull market since I started. I believe this is in large part due to the drop in overall pricing (no more $50,000 snakes) and an industry move to more selective breeding. These factors have helped to stabilize the market. I don’t know if things will continue in this manner, but this is what I’ve witnessed over the years. Either way, I’m still excited about the future and I find the market to be a fascinating thing to watch and analyze. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed this blog post. I would love to hear what other breeders think… so please chime in.
Your Favorite Hardcore Enthusiast,