By Scott Wesley
Jeff Barringer is the owner and founder of Kingsnake.com / OnlineHobbyist.com and has single handedly changed the way the reptile industry does business since starting out in 1997. Kingsnake.com is the #1 reptilerelated website in the US – by far.
1. If you had a choice, what would you be doing full time instead of Kingsnake.com ?
I would be working with the Department of Defense new “Cyber-command” to help stop online attacks on the nations infrastructure. Or I would be the water ski stunt coordinator for the Wonder Lake Show Ski Team. Both have their upsides and my unique skill set would allow for either.
2. You are very involved in the music industry in Austin. Is there anyone or any specific band you have met that made you “star struck” or left a lasting impression on you seeing them live or meeting them in person?
Well my friendship with Kerry King of Slayer came about because of our reptile interests, and that’s probably been the one that has impacted me most, recently, but I have been going to shows since I was 15 and even then I found a way. I would say The Ramones left me star struck first as I conned my way back stage when I was 17 and got to spend the night hanging out in their dressing room interviewing the band before their show in 1979. It pretty much set my path.
3. What is your favorite reptile show to attend in the country and why?
Wooo. That’s a tough one. And for tough ones I always run home to family. And that means the annual East Texas Herp Society Symposium in Houston, September 29-30 . Its where the Alterna Page, kingsnake.com and NRAAC all got their start. And it’s also where NRAAC will be hosting the Reptile& Amphibian Law Symposium & Workshop this year.
4. If you could pick somewhere else to live besides Austin – where would it be and why?
Sanderson Texas, because it is the gateway to the Tran-Pecos and the Big Bend and I could find reptiles, arrowheads, gemstones, and dinosaur bone all in my front yard. And every once in a while really cool Air Force jets come rat racing through the hills and mountains.
5. What kind of reptile got you hooked – grey banded kingsnakes or something else?
When I was 9 it was Texas Horned Toads
When I was an adult a Texas Alligator Lizard got me hooked
The Mexican Milk Snake is my favorite snake and what got me hooked on field work.
6. The reptile industry has changed so much since the late 90’s – what do you see as the biggest change overall since you started besides the internet?
The biggest change is the one that I see now, with the industry that started out somewhat localized, that expanded in the 90’s and 2000’s to national markets due to the ready availability of overnight shipping and marketing channels such as the internet, now retracting back to a more localized, and smaller, marketplace, similar to the way it was in the early 90s. I think this is due primarily both to the perception of and the actuality of more government regulation at the state and federal levels.
7. What is your favorite current band or singer right now?
Right now it’s the Silversun Pickups – sounds like being attacked by a swarm of bees with guitars. Plus their drummer’s style reminds me of Animal on Sesame Street
8. Why, in your opinion, have so many reptile businesses taken advantage of online advertising, and yet so many still chose to ignore its massive benefits (especially major manufacturers) ?
I think that a lot of businesses are still under the impression that to effectively advertise on the internet, you actually have to sell your products, and ship your products online. You don’t.
The internet allows all businesses to participate. Whether it’s building a brand, introducing a product or launching a new pet store down the street the internet is still the cheapest, and quickest way to get any message out, commercial or otherwise.
9. A bit morbid, but if you could choose – how would you like to die?
Unexplained tuba accident
10. What is the one thing you would like to see change in the reptile community?
I would like to see more people get directly involved with working with regulators and legislators. We can’t depend on any one person or one organization to resolve the issues our community is facing. Emails, phone calls, faxes, letters, all those are great tools but we should be using them to open doors, rather than shut them. Get to know who is responsible for the laws in your community and actually engage them in person. That is what is going to make the difference in the end.