Open for Business: Hold Fast Reptiles & Exotics has furless, featherless animals


Shane Weakley’s store — Hold Fast Reptiles and Exotics — has scaly creatures, critters that blend into its environment and owners’ schedule.

“I have always loved working with animals,” Mr. Weakley said by phone on Aug. 8.

He opened the new retail exotic pet shop at 1000 W. Apache Trail, Suite 120, in July. Describing the many animals, he said, “anybody with busy lifestyles” will find it much easier to take care of compared to traditional pets.

The former veterinary technician saw a need in the community as there are lots of local people with reptiles and exotic pets such as snakes, bearded dragons, turtles and more that require less attention than some dogs and cats.

“They are not as scary as some would think,” Mr. Weakley said of the pets some people consider frightening. “I have always loved them because they’re fascinating.”

The questionnaire below gives a glimpse of the new businessman’s perspective and background:

Name: Phillip “Shane” Weakley

Age: 36

Name of business: Hold Fast Reptiles and Exotics

How long have you been in business? Since July 21, 2018

Briefly describe your business/services offered: Retail exotic pet store

What made you choose this line of work and why is it important or interesting to you? I grew up in Northern California playing in the outdoors and enjoying the native wildlife, taking pictures of the local reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.

As I aged, I got a job as a veterinary technician at Camp Verde Veterinary clinic and really loved working with all types of animals. The clinic closed due to economic reasons and I managed to get a job in Mesa at Predators Reptile Center where my knowledge and care increased with time.

I moved to Apache Junction and started to realize the need for a place to pick up feeders for people who keep animals a little more on the scaly side.

At the end of the day, what brings you the most joy or is the most rewarding aspect about your business? Educating people on why reptiles and other animals are not as scary as some people make them out to be.

I honestly believe there is a reptile, amphibian, or even a tarantula for everyone and most are far easier to keep than your average cat or dog, especially for a person who can’t dedicate a ton of time due to work or school.

What separates you from your competition? Customer service and knowledge of the animals.

Unfortunately, with businesses that are big box stores, there usually involves high turn around in employees. Training on so many different animals takes time and a ton of hands-on experience along with ongoing education.

What civic groups, clubs, organizations or causes do you or your business support? Proud member of the Arizona Herpetological Association.

Why did you choose to locate your business in Apache Junction? Not a ton of competition for this type of pet.

Tell us about your family, ie: wife, kids, pets? Married to April Dawn Weakley for four years and she has two boys, Shawn Plott, 16, and Corbyn Plott, 12.

Where are you from? Sonora, California

Who was the biggest influence in your life? I was lucky to grow up in the mountains of northern California where my mom and dad often took us camping, fishing and swimming. When fishing slowed down, I would hike up a hill a little and start flipping rocks to see what kind of critters lived nearby.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating starting their own business? Don’t contemplate it, do it. It’s Ok to fail if you learn from it.

Anything interesting about yourself and your profession: Although the square footage of the shop is about 530 square feet, it houses over 100 types of animals at any given time.

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