I recently attended a convention of the nation's gift basket producers and discovered many exciting new trends in design, foodstuffs and marketing to individuals and businesses.
Among the most startling was the trend away from wicker containers toward heavy duty decorative cardboard boxes. Not only are they less bulky, they are easier to ship, which makes it less costly for businesses which send large numbers of Christmas presents to their clients and suppliers.
This trend has been going on even before the China tariffs were put in place, causing wicker importers to have to raise prices on traditional wicker baskets.
Randy had always wanted me to look for novel and inventive ways to package our gifts. He thought that if a container had a practical use--like a champagne bucket, a wine tote or some other functional item--it would heighten the appeal, especially for practical-minded customers.
But bottles are heavy and often awkward to work with, so until now, I'd stuck with tradition and worked with wicker almost exclusively.
When I reported back to the store what I had learned, one of our employees said she knew a guy who could manufacture custom boxes with whatever images we wanted on them.
Wow, I thought. This may be just what I am looking for. So, with help from Sal Farfan of Caught-in-the-Moment Photography, we designed a set of prototype boxes for The Wine Country, and we'll be debuting them as soon as I finish the new designs for the 2019 holiday season. I think you'll be as excited with the outcome as we will be.
Another thing many of our customers don't realize--and this is important given liability concerns--we can make gift baskets and gift boxes loaded with non-alcoholic items, and the ideas we offer are limitless.
For example, you may want to include a bottle of non-alcoholic French sparkling cider with some gourmet food items. Perhaps you want us to add some Badoit and Acqua Panna imported waters.
How about a basket for gourmet cooks including extra virgin olive oil, great vinegars, fleur-de-sel (sea salt flakes), pasta, mustards and other exotic condiments?
Or maybe it's a box crammed with our chocolate bars--a selection of Bovetti, Dandelion, Ritter Sport, Chocolove, Seattle Chocolates, Noi-Sirius Icelandic Chocolates, Celebre Gourmet Peanut Butter Balls, Charles Chocolates and John Kelly Fudge Truffles. Imagine an office staff opening such a gift and fighting over who gets what!
Whenever I make a few of those gifts, they go out of the store faster and faster.
Another non-alcoholic gift box idea is to compile a grab bag of snacks--Potato chips, crackers from Beechers, Firehook, La Panzanella and Rustic Bakery, smoked Vermont cheese and salami, Nunes Farms mixed nuts, shortbread cookies, and anything else delectable we can get our hands on.
Of course, our main business is wine, spirits and craft beer, and customers come to us for our high quality and affordability, so it stands to reason, wine baskets, spirits baskets and craft beer selections will still be our main emphasis.
So if you are put in charge of your company's gifting, you can go the usual route, or you can come to me and The Wine Country and have something spectacular designed just for you.