Gift basket professionals score high
marks in three areas - patience, research and determination.
Patience is key to develop your
basket-making craft. Videos, conferences and adult school courses
are three ways that teach you the building basics. Believe me, patience
will pay off in the long run.
The library and the Internet are two
common places to begin researching the industry. Library
reference books will lead you to sources such as magazines, statistics
and trade shows. Message boards and live chats are common available
through the Internet and America Online.
A gift basket business has its share of
ups and downs, and this is where your determination is crucial. When I
started my business, there were no resources, print or video, but I was
determined to succeed. If you can't get through the front door, come up
the side. Did the prospect say, "no?" Keep going
until another says "yes." I did, and it works.
Stick with prepackaged snack foods.
Popcorn, pretzels, chips and dips such as salsa, nuts, dried fruit,
flavored mini hot or cold drinks, cookies, fudge and too many other
products to mention.
There are occasions where foods are not
appropriate. For example, baby baskets include nail clippers,
hangers, rattles and bibs. Get well baskets contain interlocking
or word puzzles, books, games and an occasional request for fruit, which
most professionals purchase from a local grocer.
If you have applied for and received a
business license from your state department of taxation or other agency,
you are qualified to buy products from nationwide wholesalers.
Distributors, which are companies that
sell a variety of products made by other manufacturers, make your first
and subsequent buying plans manageable. They stock hundreds of items and
let you buy an assortment of products, usually only one or two of each
Non-profit organizations (Boys' and
Girls' clubs, United Way, etc.)
A word of caution - don't send your first
mailing to every group listed above. Limit the mailing to two
buying groups at most. Review the results and revise your literature if
the response is low. When you're satisfied with the results or revision,
send the next mailing to another group and repeat your review.
Switched deliveries, cancelled orders,
delayed shipments and other pitfalls. Every industry has its share of
problems, and gift baskets are no different. However, seasoned
professionals agree wholeheartedly that the good outweighs the bad.
If you want to chart a course in a career
rather than depend on a job, the gift basket business is an industry for
you to consider entering.
To date, many gift basket businesses have
not captured a great deal of business through an Internet presence. That doesn't mean that a site is a waste of time and money. To
profit, you must do more to tell individuals that you have a Web site.
Selling gift baskets on the Internet
includes making your presence known to local hotels, conference
centers, organizations and other groups who may be interested in buying
your state-made baskets for out-of-town visitors. Your site may
also be visited by out-of-state destination management firms sending
gift baskets to groups in your area that consider holding their
conference in another state.
Statehouse Convention and Conference Center in Little Rock, Arkansas has
spent $21 million to expand its facility, which was completed in May
1999. It contains 15 meeting rooms and 62,000 square feet of exhibit
space. Gift basket businesses in and around Little Rock might consider contacting
the conference center and the convention and visitors bureau for a list
of groups who plan to meet at this facility. The center, bureau,
visiting groups and others in the hospitality sector (such as seven area
hotels with 220+ rooms) must receive a packet of information about
your gift baskets for visitors along with an Internet address for further
Selling on the Internet means being as
creative in your marketing efforts as you are in styling your baskets.
The more you market (link trading, board postings and other activities),
the greater your chances for Internet profits.