Visit our Preferred Vendors

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Sale… Sales

Can you pass up 90% discounted merchandise? No, I can’t either, as long as I can visualize how to sell it tomorrow. That’s exactly what I’ve been finding the last couple of days as I’ve shopped at some of the big retail chains.

Today at Hobby Lobby I found pink marabou feather mini boas for only 20 cents each. Sorry, but I bought them all to use around the edges of spa baskets. Also marked down to pennies where stick-on jewels — perfect accents on plain metal buckets. Beautiful white mugs with fillagree hearts were available for 60 cents each, and I can’t wait to use these in sweet, feminine coffee and tea baskets for Mother’s Day. And there was so much more — a virtual plethora of value for the resourceful designer. Hope you get there tomorrow and find a great deal for yourself!

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Why Not Pink?

Mother’s Day…  Delightful arrangement of pink products to capture the special dayPink Designs

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Wedding Designs


Wedding design by Najie Culley of  Gifts N BasketsWedding Designs

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Visions of Sugarplums

“Visions of Sugarplums” designed by Linda James, NC

First step in holiday gift basket preparation? Gather all the odds and ends of late fall inventory and brainstorm for ways to move them as you roll out the yuletide gift line. One excellent way to move the end-of-line stragglers is to use them as ornaments for a Christmas “gift” tree. Everything can be part of the oddball gift buffet . . . cookies, crackers, sauces and syrups, coffee, candy . . . anything goes! Top the tree and trim it to the base with a merry holiday bow. This is an excellent design to suggest for all the holiday charity events. Ask the group to provide the tree and you’ll hang on all the trimmings! Good door prize gift, too.

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Corporate Buyers

Sophisticated corporate managers are experts in their field and expect you to be the expert at gifts. Because these clients are experienced dealmakers, they also can easily get out of a deal. When you’ve secured a large order, provide a photo of the agreed design and obtain a signed contract as well as a deposit. Fifty percent is standard.

Corporate buyers prefer business deals that are ‘succinctly distilled’.

These buyers speed-read and scour thoroughly only what they perceive as relevant. You need to provide concise information and precise policies. They’ll hold you to them.

It’s up to us to educate prospective clients. Make sure you stress the benefits of your service, not just the features. A corporate client probably cares more about short-notice delivery than your monthly marketing e-mails.

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Selling in Uncertain Times

Watching the local news and the national news creates an air of uncertainty to business owners.  Here are some tips to work toward your goals during crisis periods and breeze through periods of doubt with your customers and your employees.

• Don’t let the customer see you sweat! Anxiety is contagious.

• Empathize (vs. sympathize) with your customers. Intellectually understand their problems but beware of over-identifying with their misfortunes.

• Probe deeper for cross-selling opportunities.

• Keep the focus long-term. Tough times don’t last forever. Help customers focus on their long-term objectives and sell to these.

• Be a positive information source. Bring customers good news and success stories.

• Stress quality and durability.

• Add value instead of cutting price. Look for ways to build your offering so price becomes a detail.

• Bone up on your negotiating skills. Be flexible, creative, and persistent. Find ways to offer minor concessions, but prudently drag your feet before giving them.

• Don’t believe everything you hear. Some so-called bad news is pre-negotiation posturing.

• Practice self-motivation.

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Darling Baby

According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, parents in the 25 – 34-year-old age group spent $5.2 billion on infant equipment, furniture and apparel. The 35 – 44 age group spent $3.4 billion. The two groups combined spent 62 percent more than the total spent by all other age groups. Together, these young parents laid out more than $8 billion on goods and gifts for the new baby. And thatʼs only half of the total money generated by the birth of these new infants.

Gift basket packers should be aware of what consumers WANT to buy. According to the American Baby Group Baby Products Tracking Study, the following are the top of the list for purchases for first babies:

Listed in order of volume

1. Baby linens  2. Baby clothes/layette 3. Car Seat  4. Baby bottles/nursers  5. Strollers
6. Nursery monitor
7. Baby toys   8. Baby toiletries
9. Odorless diaper pail  10. Crib/baby furniture

While we may not be able to offer cribs and car seats, there are plenty of items on the most-wanted Mom list that can be packed into baskets. Whatʼs more, offering your packing services to the store where the Mom is registered could mean a boom in new packing revenue (imagine the delight of the Mom receiving a bassinet, put together, packed with all her most-wanted items, and delivered to the door where the shower is being held!).

There are as many opportunities for baby business. Just put on your brainstorming pot of coffee and develop your short and long term list of goals — and your business plan — for getting a crib full of business.

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Glass Baskets

Mugs, jars, boxes, and totes offer flexibility with component choices, labor savings, and good value.  While decorative glass containers are not necessarily inexpensive in the short term, a refillable container for the desk is a good solution for corporations that want to show appreciation on a seasonal schedule. The containers can simply be filled with a new variety of goodies each month!

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Fruit Basket Turnover

By Debra Paulk

         Eating a cookie makes me feel like I’m grinning inside. The glee that bubbles up from the sugar rush cannot be matched by any other food. Good chocolate gives off a rosy warmth; coffee jolts a buzz. Cakes and pies make me feel fat, and donuts leave a guilty aftertaste of regret. But nibbling on a cookie . . . ah! That is just pure joy!

            To me, the word, “cookie” even sounds like joy. The dictionary agrees, defining joy with synonyms like “delight”, “jubilation”, and “happiness”. These are words that also describe the pleasant experience of eating a cookie. Daniel Webster could have easily described the word “joy” by explaining, “It’s the feeling you get when you eat a small round cake-like treat.”

            Realizing how much I love a cookie, you can understand my utter disappointment when, of all things, a fruit basket was delivered on my birthday! For a week I had anticipated the cookie basket that a friend said she had ordered for me. When the box arrived, I ripped greedily through the cardboard and snatched off the cellophane with hungry expectation. But when the box was opened, a lovely basket of pears, oranges, and apples offered a glum greeting. Drats! Where were the cookies?

            It was impossible to imagine my friend playing such a cold-hearted trick on her cookie-loving sister. “There must be a cookie in here somewhere,” I thought, rummaging carefully through the fruit basket to avoid scattering the messy basket grass all over my office. Each piece of fruit was removed, one pear and apple at a time. But, still no cookie was found. Not even one! When every piece of fresh fruit and cellophaned bag of dried plums and apricots had been taken out of the basket, nothing was left but the colored waxed straw.

            Though I tried not to let my joy crumble, the earlier euphoria was beginning to fall apart around the edges. No doubt, my friend was laughing herself silly at the thought of my disappointment in receiving the cookieless gift basket. Resigned to the fate of a fruity snack, I picked up an apple and tried to envision it as a temptation. Oh bother . . . a healthy nibble just wasn’t as much fun when the taste buds were all set for a cookie.

            Lifting the basket to dump the straw in the trash, the weight was surprising. Something else was definitely in the basket. “Cookies!” I shouted with jubilation, now confident that my friend had not forgotten to send my favorite treat. Tossing shred helter-skelter, I excitedly dug through the layers of shred and foam peanuts that had stuffed the huge basket. At last, on the very bottom of the basket, the sugary treasure was discovered! There, filling the entire basket, were two big oval tins of cookies, stacked and tied with a ribbon. Oh happy day! Joy! Joy! JOY!

            The basket proved to be more than a good laughing prank from a friend. To this day, when troubles are piled high like fruit in a basket, I recall the elation of finding those cookies buried underneath the shred. Just like the concealed cookies, joy can be hidden under layers of problems. But when we persevere in digging to the bottom of tribulations, the reward of joy waits as the prize.

            Whenever we feel as if life has delivered us a basket with no sweets, let’s not let our cookies crumble. Keep the faith and believe there is happiness just under the shred. Joy is already packed in your basket . . . just keep digging!

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Big Thanks

Corporations often choose bundled gifts instead of gift baskets for staff appreciation. Omitting the basket reduces costs, both in supplies and labor. Instead of individual gifts, some corporations choose to send one large gift for the entire office that can be shared among employees. Stacks are popular because the corporations can choose an assortment of goodies to be packed int he boxes. Keep corporate gift costs contained by choosing inexpensive bases.

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