When was the last time you received a thank-you gift from a vendor you patronize regularly on the auction house? For anyone who plays Alliance-side on Cenarion Circle (US) and is even vaguely interested in collecting pets, it probably hasn't been long at all. CC's healthy market for pets is driven, fittingly enough, by a player named Healthypets.
Looking for a particular vendored or crafted pet, but don't feel like slogging across the world or juggling cross-faction AH shenanigans to get it into your hands? If it's not already listed on the auction house, it should be merely a matter of days before Healthypets will pop up a fairly priced selection. Buy more than a few? Regular customers get thank-you gifts -- that's right, a free pet mailed to you from Healthypets, for no other reason than to simply thank you for your patronage.
This utterly charming player and his equally charming business (because come on, who wouldn't want to own a healthy pet?) have made it easy for players to stock up on many of Azeroth's collectable pets. After one especially satisfied customer wrote in to The Classifieds with a Random Acts of Uberness for Healthypets, 15 Minutes sent in an anonymous alt to investigate -- and she ended up with her own healthy handful of healthy pets, including not one but two separate thank-you pets. We got in touch with the 56-year-old, self-professed "regular guy" behind Healthypets to find out what goes into this successful, player-pleasing business.
Main character Healthypets
Active playing main(s) Johaynn, level 84 warlock; Johaynd, level 85 druid
Guild Lords of Deception
Realm Cenarion Circle (US-A)
15 Minutes of Fame: What gave you the idea of getting into the pets business?
Healthypets: When Johaynn first got to the Thousand Needles Raceway, I bought four Ancona Chickens and brought them to Stormwind AH. I think I sold one of them, gave the others to my brother and guild members. I gave up on the AH for a while to do some leveling and start my druid.
I was doing mostly solo questing, so the gold was hard to come by. I started selling cooking recipes [because] when I tried to buy them on the AH, there weren't any listed or they were a ridiculous price. So on Friday nights while I listened to my guild buddies raiding on Vent, I would take my warlock and fly (griff) to all the vendors selling the recipes and put them on the AH using three low-level (7-11) alts. It made for a relaxing evening, with time for some late-night questing if desired.
Then Blizzard had an anniversary (I believe, might be wrong), and they gave all the player characters a free pet. My interest in pets was renewed, but in collecting only. The next time Johaynn went to the Thousand Needles Raceway, a few Ancona Chickens were bought and put on the AH. They sold almost immediately, to my complete surprise. I put a few more on, and they just expired 48 hours later. So the only way I was going to make a profit was with as many varieties as possible. It took two alts to sell the recipes and one more alt to sell the miscellaneous stuff from questing, so I needed a new alt for the pets. I tried to go for an appealing, obvious name and came up with Healthypets.
Do you specialize in any particular types of pets, or do you aim to provide the broadest variety possible?
I only deal with pets which can be purchased from vendors and the engineered pets. I do sell all the vendored pets, including the Horde ones (six). My druid is an engineer and makes all the engineering pets. I try to have one to two of each of these pets on auction at all times.
How many characters does it take to run your pets business?
Two level 20 Horde alts, two level 7-11 Alliance alts and one level 84 main. Also, one trusted AH business associate character belonging to someone else, for the Horde-Alliance transfer.
I have spent hours farming the Captured Firefly in Zangarmarsh and Whelplings in Swamp Of Sorrows and have had no luck, so I don't farm pets. I ended up paying lots of gold for those on the AH.
So no rares at all?
I sell the Enchanted Lantern. I get the mats, my brother's enchanter makes them, I sell them. It's good to have a brother in the game.
Any tips or methods you'd be willing to share?
If you want to auction, bid only -- no buyout amount set. Please set the duration to 12 hours, maybe 24. You'll be able to adjust your prices faster, and people will bid to save gold if it's close to expiring (I think). Once there is a bid on an item, put another one up for auction; you've just sold the first one -- don't let another player buy that one with the bid on it.
What's the competition like for pet sales on your realm? How has the existence of Healthypets affected that?
The competition has been steady and at times brutal -- brutal in the sense of no profit margin at all, selling at cost plus 5-10% (AH takes 5%). But on the other hand, it's great for the players to get pets at rock bottom prices! So I always undercut the lowest offer by 5 to 10 silver and remove the higher-priced items from auction. This drives prices gradually down. I think Healthypets has stabilized pricing and has definitely stabilized supply/variety.
Customers who've recommended your service remark on your fair pricing. What's your pricing policy? How do you set your prices?
Auctioneer has really helped with keeping track of sales quantities and average prices. The Blue Moth is the pet I've had the greatest sales, over 1,500. Most others are in the 500-800 quantity range. This gives some pretty good averages.
I mouse over the item with Auctioneer, and I have the average price to sell at. I might change it up or down by 20 to 50 silver, but this is the price I use when there are no other active auctions.
We hear you offer special perks to repeat customers. What's that all about?
Actually I try to reward customers the first time; then I'll have repeat sales. (It does work.) One of the engineering toys that can be made is the Crashin' Thrashin' Robot. They're classified as Trade Good - Combat Pets. But they don't sell; they are like amusing toys. So I had a few, gave them to my guild folks. Then I thought, hey, I've got all this Fel Iron and Adamantite Bars and Primal Earth. Why don't I whip up a few of these babies and let rip on the world?!! All right, clean out the old bank of some stuff I'll never need and spread the word.
I figured I would give away about 100; I'm over 600 now and still going. They take eight Fel Iron and two Adamantite Bars, so I buy when it's cheap on the AH. This limits me to gifting them to customers buying over about 55 to 70 gold total at one go, so to speak. I gotta make a little profit. I've been known to give pets away to people who have shown me kindness in game and the inquisitive questions that I'm asked.
Have you ever run a similar enterprise on other realms or in other games?
No, it does take a bit of time doing just this.
I've done cooking recipes, especially the Horde recipes, but no time anymore.
What playstyle do you enjoy with your other characters?
Pretty well singular questing, mining (flying/swimming around). We used to do Wednesday morning 5-man guild heroics pre-Cat, but that was back when I had the time. I have a three-monitor setup (3x 1280x1024), so it's quite the visual experience. I'm interested, in the future, to try a 3D 1920x1080 setup.
What do you do out in the real world?
If you're interested in pet collecting, you might also enjoy our 15 Minutes of Fame interview with pet, mount, and armor set collector Drrum.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.