I think of gift baskets as little arrangements of art with the added benefit of demonstrating feelings like love, excitement and sympathy. I’ve always enjoyed receiving gift baskets but had not considered starting my own gift basket business until I received an unexpected windfall of supplies. That plus a small investment of capital is what began it all. It’s been 20 years since I sold the first basket and the excitement hasn’t waned. Although the business is basically seasonal and there have been slumps in the economy, I am optimistic about the future.
One thing that sets my gift basket business apart from others is the personal approach I take. A lot of businesses I see fill their baskets with inexpensive novelty gifts that have little meaning and don’t last very long. From the beginning, I didn’t want this. I spend a lot of time looking for items that mean something to the basket recipient. I ask my customers questions like, “What is his favorite music?” or “Who is her favorite writer?” I take these clues with me and begin searching for vintage items that will work in a basket. With just a few pointed questions about the occasion, I get to work creating something original. Of course, when I do have customers that want something for the boss but don’t want something personal, I don’t fret over personalizing the basket.
My first big break happened for me when I managed to land a meeting with the manager of the local hospital’s gift shop. I brought a few themed gift baskets with me like the “Basket of Sunshine” and the “Party in a Basket” and she loved them. She ordered them regularly and I found her to be a reliable customer beyond the seasonal clients I had. From there, I landed a few other hospitals and then the business took off. I have been very fortunate to have partnered with companies that need my “works of art” regularly.
For anyone desiring to start a gift basket business, I recommend that you follow these two suggestions: Be original and work to establish regular clientele beyond the seasonal surge.
Have something makes you different. For example, if your gift basket business is owned by Christians, include a printed Bible verse in each basket. Find the thing that makes you unique and use that!
Get creative about finding customers. Visit local florists and gift shops and show them your wares. Brainstorm on who could use your services and make contact. You might be surprised how quickly you’ll build that clientele list.
One more thing–do price your product correctly. Sell them too cheaply and you’ll lose cash. Put too high of a price on them and no one can afford them. With a little tweaking, you can do it!