Adam Reed, a supplier of pets and pet supplies, came to the flea market business through mysterious ways. In 2006, Reed’s son, Timmy, was born blind. He was soon diagnosed with several life-threatening conditions, including cerebral palsy, tuberous sclerosis, and brain damage. Doctors did not think he would live beyond his third year. “We committed Timmy to prayer and fasting. Yes, fasting,” writes Reed, on his company Web site. “I personally knocked on every church door I could find as well as sent out hundreds of e-mails and phone calls. Maybe even thousands.” Then the miracle happened, and a doctor at UCLA had some good news for Reed’s wife, Heather. “He looked at my wife and said something similar to the following: ‘Mrs. Reed. We have the test results back. I cannot explain it, but Timmy is normal. His brain is fine. You can go home!’ Apparently, Timmy’s brain started functioning normally.”
It was the kind of wonderful event that changes lives. For the Reeds, it inspired them to start a nonprofit, called The Refuge Road, devoted to helping other children and families grappling with disease. Their organization brings animals, entertainment, child care, and other services to sick kids and their families at children’s hospitals and family homes. “We want to bring a little laughter and hope where it is so hard to find,” Reed adds.
The Reeds have since also started two for-profit businesses that help fund their ministry. Critter Cabin began as a retail location selling rescued animals to families and pet stores. The Reeds specialize in reptiles, amphibians, and birds. That expanded into an online store and a wholesale business, called Reptile and Hermit Crab Vendor. “We came across this wholesale business that was for sale, and we thought it would be a perfect fit for our educational nonprofit,” says Adam Reed.
“We love the critters. We love what we are doing. We want our flea market vendors and pet stores to have a reliable source of healthy quality critters,” he explains. “For wholesale, we sell accessories and goods across the entire industry. We also sell live reptiles, amphibians, and birds.”
Reed’s company makes sense on business grounds too. “We’ve been selling a ton of hermit crab cages to flea market vendors,” he says. “Our tiny baby turtles are really popular at flea markets. You can be out the door for under $20, and our customer usually makes $10 to $15 profit per turtle.”
Although the company also sells retail to pet owners, Reed is careful to take care of his vendors, especially offering products that he does not sell to the general public. “We want our retailer customers to have the ability to sell things that they can’t find anywhere else. We don’t want to undercut them,” he says. Although the company has a minimum order of $100, Reed has waived that through October. For details, visit the company Web site, follow Critter Cabin on Twitter, or call (855) 400-3305.
Timmy is five and a half now, and doing well. The Reeds’ work for children is expanding with an Education First Program, which offers free or low-cost options “designed to bring our little critters in front of growing minds.” And their love for animals is spreading to flea markets and swap meets around the country.
Photo credits, with thanks: Critter Cabin, Farmersville Times.