I am a little hesitant to post this and am only sharing this with the hopes that it might help someone:
We were in Tractor Supply tonight, and I got to talking with the store manager about their chicks and rabbits.
It is unbelievable that TSC took delivery of 30 rabbits on Thursday, and they've sold 25 already, as of closing time on Friday night. Another supplier brought in 10 mature rabbits late today, and only 6 remain. This store is accepting another 40 rabbits tomorrow. This is not counting the first batch of rabbits that came in late last week. I think one of the employees said that the first order was 15 rabbits, which sold out within the first day.
The manager told me that baby chicks were on a corporate program, but that he makes his own deals with local rabbit breeders. At this store, the rabbits come from a breeder in a town about 20 miles away.
If you have weaned rabbits available, and are scratching your head about how to market them, I'd be talking to your local TSC store manager.
As a side note or two:
It seems like the rabbits that sell at our TSC are mixed breed. My point is that you probably don't have to have high end show rabbits to be a rabbit vendor for TSC.
It seems like TSC has more demand for rabbits than they have available. Just guessing here, but I think they could sell an additional 100 rabbits if they just had them. The first batch came on Monday, but they were sold out for three straight days. We were in on Tuesday, and I bet that 15 people walked in asking about rabbits in just one hour. As well, supply tends to run out early in the season, yet people keep streaming into the store asking about them for weeks on end.
The manager said "I called her three days ago, and she still hasn't called me back." (This is where your fast, responsive customer service can out-shine the competition.)
With all that said, if you have extra rabbits for sale, it might be worth your while to stop in and start building a relationship with the store manager. Even if you can't be the primary vendor for your store, it might behoove you to stop in every few days to see if you can fill a order while they are waiting for the primary vendor to fill their order.
Don't be afraid to call some of the other TSC's in your area and build relationships with those managers too. I can think of 7 TSC's within a 45 minute drive of us.
If you don't have a local TSC, what about setting up with the other feed stores in your area, with the pitch that you'll help them sell more feed, hay, cubes, hutches, cages, etc, if they will let you set up outside their store every Saturday to sell rabbits.
In closing...I am not a rabbit person. Maybe I'm way off base with this idea. Nonetheless, it is just an idea. No bashing on me for offering a suggestion, please. There has been many times that I've had product, and had no idea where or how to sell it, and then along comes someone with a great marketing idea for me. Again, I'm offering it as a suggestion with the hopes that it helps someone.
As I've learned in years of being a salesman, it never hurts to ask "Who is supplying your __________, and what would it take to be a new vendor for you? You know, I could help improve your store's profits...."
Our local farm supply stores also buy rabbits from private individuals. I have seen rabbits going for fifteen or twenty dollars at the farm store. Of course they buy them for five dollars a piece. One year, my oldest needed a few bunnies for 4h, but the farm store only had males left, so they gave us the name and number of their supplier. He sold my kid bunnies for $2 a piece for 4h, and let him have his pick. It just seemed better to buy directly from the farm rather than the farm supply store.
Craig's List will let you sell each bunny for a higher retail rate, but if you want to offload a buncha bunnies, then TSC would be helpful. You might be able to negotiate a bunny price for cash and a higher bunny price if you got store credit. I did notice a lot of rabbit cages at our local store several months ago and wondered what all that was about.
They want to buy only Mini Lops or Mini Rex rabbits.......
I do have Mini Lops..but I can get about $20 each out of those talking to other breeders.
TSC want's to buy them for $5 each..
Sorry but that's a waste of time really.
Each store manager negotiates his own purchases, so I'm sure variety varies from store to store. To someone selling meat rabbits commercially for a buck a pound, $5.00 each for fresh weaned buns is good money.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Our local farm store sold rabbits last year and I sold them two of my litters, one Mini Rex and one Mini Rex crossbred litter. He also bought rabbits from another local breeder ... I think all together, probably 20 or 30 rabbits ... and we're 20 miles from the nearest 'bigger' town ...
Just for some clarification about our local TSC is that the great majority of the rabbits they sell appear, at least to me, to be bottom of the barrel type rabbits. I don't know much about rabbits, even though I raised some for 4-H as a kid, but I do know enough to be able to tell that 99% of the rabbits they sell are not high quality rabbits for breeding or showing. These rabbits are healthy, and well fed, but just have that 'weak' appearance to them. They are not anything like what you would see at our county fair. Showing up with one of those rabbits would get you laughed out of town.
FWIW, the 10 mature rabbits that were brought in on Friday appear to be someone's culling of the heard. They are beautiful rabbits...by just looking at them, they appear to be high end rabbits that have been well taken care of in their life. I just wonder if someone is dumping the rabbits that didn't make the cut, and they had no other outlet for them, so TSC was an ideal place for those rabbits. Perhaps there is a breeder that needed to sell the culls, but didn't want to attach their name to them???? As an interesting note, the beautiful mature rabbits are the exact same breed that took nearly every grand champion ribbon at our fair last summer. Hmmm.
Again, I only posted this info in case it helps someone.
I do wonder, though, if you approached TSC with good quality pure breed rabbits, and asked them to pay you $10 to $12, and they could sell them for $15 or $20. My guess is that a cute, healthy looking bunny that is from quality breeding stock priced at $20 or $25 would outsell the bottom-of-the-barrel type rabbits priced at $10. Most people I know will reach for the better stuff most of the time. Wouldn't it be worth a shot if you need to sell rabbits?
I know Rural King does this also. We are just getting back into rabbits and we are having a very hard time just finding NZ let alone any other breed (and we live out in the country), so I can see why people would buy them from there.
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If I get 50 rabbits from 6 litters and sell them to TSC at 6 weeks for $7 then that is $350, and I don't even have to get them to butcher size. We have about 9 per litter to make it to weaning, so this goal is not hard to achieve. It will buy me about 30 weeks or rabbit food. I have meat rabbits. They don't go for a high dollar but they are multipurpose. The ones that don't go as pets go as dinner. For us it helps that there is an easy outlet for our product. Marketing and finding a reliable buyer is a hard thing. Where I used to live my reputation got out and I was finally able to sell every rabbit I could produce to people looking for rabbit meat. Now I'm in a new area and don't have any buyers. So for me right now it is awesome.
TSC is a great way to move culls and over population. What they want and what they get are often 2 different things... $7 is about average from what I've seen, they want holland lops for that price but normally end up with crossed meat rabbits... If you have surplus as Easter approaches they will buy them! Most stores contract with a breeder or two in January for the year but if the regular supplier(s) can't keep up they will will buy from others to keep feed moving off the shelves.
Tinknal is 100% correct that the managers make the purchase, they will sometimes negotiate if they are running low. One of the TSC's up here will also buy ducklings... My main problem with them is that they want them YOUNG as they can get them.
I don't know about the local TSC stores where the rest of you are, but the ones here only sell rabbits during "chick days" - which is usually March and April. This year I think it lasts through May.
In years past, the stores here get them in one morning and have most of them sold by the end of the same day. I'm not sure who their supplier is, but I know they can't keep up with the demand...as fast as they get them in, they sell them.
I prefer to sell mine myself though. When I sell pet rabbits, I provide the new owner with care information, a health guarantee, and a promise to take the rabbit back if they EVER need to rehome it in the future. I also get an opportunity to talk with them on the phone and or email at least once or twice to get a feel for what they are looking for vs. what I have available. That way, if they tell me they're buying it as a present for a 3 year old, I can tell them how dangerous rabbit claws can be and sometimes I even suggest they get something safer...like a puppy. LOL
I'm not sure where you are in East Tn. but the Mgr of the TSC in the north part of Knoxville told me TSC's in our area are not getting rabbits this year. Said they had a big stink with PETA and they changed their policy. Did tell me I could set up a table in the parking lot and sell them myself. Now if all the breedings took I have 6 Harlequin does due to kindle around the 28th. Of course the show quality buns will stay here for me and possibly some 4-H kids.
Hey Clovis that sounds like a great idea. I noticed today the sign said Chick days thru May 4th. The lady is real nice and I don't think she would care if I had rabbits to sell all year. It is definitely something I will be looking into further. I just need to pick up a Standard of Perfection book because I want to be sure the 4-Hr's get good rabbits to show. That will get your name around bout as quick as anything.
We were in TSC again tonight. I talked with one of the store employees, and he told me they got "at least 30 rabbits on Saturday, and some more of the those big ones again." He obviously thought that having the mature rabbits was a dumb idea. The mature rabbits appeared to be more of the higher quality show rabbits, which sell for $15 each at retail. "We have to pay more for those, so we sell them for more. They are for the kids that wanna show them at the fair" he added.
Of those 30 that arrived on Saturday, they were down to about 12 of the low end mixed breed rabbits, with two of them headed to the check-out as we left, and only one of the beautiful, shiny coated, mature rabbits.
Again, I'm not a rabbit person. I do wonder if a rabbit breeder with rabbits to sell approached their local TSC with high end rabbits, especially your culls, and offered to sell rabbits on consignment, but at a much higher margin. If you had a strong, desirable breed with great retail appeal, I would think that many retail customers would pay $25 to $30 for a better rabbit...especially if you take the time to educate the staff about how great your rabbits really are in comparison to the junk that someone has been bringing in.
Someone in this thread noted that the manager of their local store wanted "mini-lops, but only wanted to pay $5 each for them". I agree, there is no sense in selling higher end products for a song. In fact, I'd love to have a 2011 Cadillac CTS-V for the same price of a 2005 Chevy Cobalt with 200,000 miles, just like that manager wanted mini-lops with extreme retail appeal for next to nothing.
I've learned that in 17 years of being a business owner and salesman, most people want or need to be educated about the product they are buying. One of my sales tools was to ask the customer if "they are open to new ideas", even though in their initial inquiry they wanted "the cheapest thing to get the job done." I just took the time to show them and explain the better qualities available, and 99 times out of 100, the customer will go with the higher end product because it offered tremendously better value to them. I don't use this as a sales tool to line my pockets, I use this to show the customer that I care about the product that I sell, and most importantly, that I care about the buyer and that I value their business.
I venture to guess that selling rabbits to TSC is no different.
Our Tractor Supply had a ton of rabbit starter kits that retail for $39.99. This "kit" includes a cheap, low quality cage, a water bottle, a feeder, etc.
I was absolutely floored to see how many of those kits they had sold over the weekend!!! It is utterly amazing!!!!!
If any of you are in a situation to set up at your locally owned feed store, show, farmer's market, etc., and can make your own cages or hutches and sell them with good profit at the same time you are selling rabbits, I would encourage you to do so. If you have access to rabbit products, you might as well merchandise them and sell them to the first time rabbit owners. They have to buy them somewhere, so it might as well be from you or the store you are representing. It is absolutely crazy what people will buy!!!
All very good ideas and advice Clovis. While I won't talk down about another persons rabbits I have no problem telling someone why mine are top quality. If the TSC adventure works out I would only be taking "pet" quality rabbits there. I would keep the "show" quality rabbits for the 4-H kids. I need to put pen to paper on the cage thing to see if there would be any profit in it. The good thing about it if TSC has someone willing to bring rabbits in say once a month or even every other month it could keep their rabbit supplies moving. I would certainly be willing to adjust my breeding times and may even add a couple more girls to the program. It could be a win win for both sides.
Thanks for the ideas Clovis.