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Starting a Gift Basket Business
By Shirley George Frazier
Take one cup of imagination, mix in a tablespoon of resourcefulness, and add a pinch of creativity. What do you have? The perfect recipe to start your own gift basket business.
Gift baskets are the most popular gift choice around the world and with good reason. They are made for every occasion, packed in a basket or other container and the foods and gifts used are limited only by your imagination.
The most popular themes are birthday, congratulations, good luck, get well and welcome to your new home. Products that fill most gift baskets are popcorn, pretzels, crackers and cheese, coffee, tea and pamper gifts such as foot soaps and body lotions. One Nashville, Tennessee gift basket maker shipped a pamper basket to Guam for Mother's Day. "I put foot and body soaps, bubble bath, lotion a manicure set and nail brush in a hat box."
To understand if this business is right for you, ask yourself three questions. 1. Am I a person who enjoys making crafts by hand? 2. Do I have an outgoing personality, willing to meet and greet new people each day? 3. Will I give myself time to find the products, services and support needed to make this business a success?
"I wanted something that let me be creative," says a Fullerton, California-based gift basket entrepreneur who started her business seven years ago. She made felt bookmarks for co-workers and went to craft shows for ideas before reading a book that said gift baskets were a big business. "Why didn't I think of that," she wondered and has never looked back.
Making gift baskets is fun and easy, and you don't have to spend your life savings to start. You'll need an assortment of baskets, pre-packaged snacks, small gifts such as desk accessories, kitchen utensils, bath products, shredded tissue, cellophane and bows. Begin by searching for products at craft shops, discount stores and warehouse clubs that sell anything from cookies to caviar under one roof.
If you want to use containers as well as baskets, look for items with a hollow center. "I find containers wherever I go," says a Reisterstown, Maryland gift basket professional who uses flower pots and tote bags. Sand buckets are a favorite for her children's baskets because "in the summertime, kids have something to play with." Crayons, coloring books, games and anything that "keeps them active" fill the colorful buckets.
Buy enough merchandise to make six to eight baskets in various themes. This assortment will show your creativity without stretching your budget or causing spatial chaos. The retail charge for an average basket is between $30 and $40, and your cost to make them is half the price. You'll find yourself selling many baskets around Christmas followed by other holidays and occasions.
The best part about the gift basket business is that you're not alone. There are videos to help you perfect your designs, adult schools that offer gift basket classes and camaraderie found on Internet message boards. These boards attract many who have joined this $1.5 billion industry, sharing information about new products, advertising and even swapping merchandise by mail.
Here are five steps to get you started with gift baskets.
1. Get educated. Take a gift basket or floral design class at a local community college. Learn the basics, and don't be over critical of your work. Remember, this is fun, and your design is probably better than you think.
2. Watch your timing. Introduce your baskets during a holiday. The public buys gifts at the last minute, and the sales blitz will sell your baskets quickly.
3. Shop smart. Buy items in the most unlikely places. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs purchased products from grocery stores, flea markets and garage sales.
4. Seek help. This industry is as creative as it is supportive. If you need answers to questions, you'll find solutions in magazines, on the Internet or by talking with colleagues at gift basket support groups based in communities throughout the country.
5. Think "out of the basket." To set yourself apart from other gift basket entrepreneurs, consider using containers instead of or in addition to baskets. Painted boxes, children's wagons, cookie tins and tea cups are some of the alternatives that gift basket makers use frequently.
Gift baskets won't make you wildly rich, but if you love to create memories, put smiles on faces and hunt for treasures, you'll be rich in a different sense and happy you decided to start a gift basket business.
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©2007-2010 Shirley George Frazier
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