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All boxed up! Subscription services bring fun to fans

Subscription boxes are available for a wide variety of interests. (Source: www.subscriptionbox.com)
Subscription boxes are available for a wide variety of interests. (Source: www.subscriptionbox.com)

People like surprises. They also like getting mail. Trying new things also can be a lot of fun. Those are the main reasons I suspect curated subscription boxes are such a hot commodity.

These themed monthly boxes are popular. So popular, a subscription box review website, www.subscriptionboxes.com, has more than 350 subscription boxes listed.

What is a curated subscription box, you ask? Good question.

The answer is both simple and complex. A subscription box can contain just about anything, usually items in a theme or aimed at a specific type of consumer.

A person can buy a monthly subscription for such a service provider to mail surprise gift boxes to them each month, but often it’s a gift.

It’s not exactly a new concept. Think of giving someone a subscription to a wine of the month club. It’s the same concept only in a box and generally with a handful of different items.

The content of the box is where it gets creative and complex.

You can find anything from gluten-free food collections to the latest in leggings by box subscription.

If there’s an interest that out there that you can’t get a subscription box service to, I haven’t found it. (And yes, there are “adult” –themed subscription boxes, but I’ll pass on describing those.)

Here are some examples of what’s out there:

Do you like makeup and enjoy trying new products?

There’s Birchbox. For $10 a month, members receive a box with about a half-dozen samples of lipsticks, eye shadows, shampoos or moisturizers. There are new items each month that are customized to a member’s profile of preferences. Customers who find products they like can save up points from reviewing items to buy full-sized versions of the samples.

Big sci-fi, gaming or comic book fan?

There’s LootCrate. For $15 a month and up, a box arrives with items ranging from action figures to T-shirts and other merchandise from popular sci-fi, video games and cartoons. It also has specialty boxes featuring collections of just socks, just anime items or just merchandise from a particular movie franchise for the extra choosy.

Hungry and homebound?

There’s Try the World. Don’t have time for globetrotting, but still want to sample international food. For $19- $40 per month depending on size, this service sends out a box themed after a city or country and the food for which it is known. The India box, for example, includes green chutney and a roasted chickpea snack.

Planning home repairs?

There’s HandyBox. For around $20 a month depending on the plan, this service sends about $40 worth of tools for do-it-yourselfers. Items range from bungee cords to putty knives and perhaps a hammer or two.

Planning for the apocalypse?

There’s Prepper Gear Box. For $39.95 you can get for your favorite survivalists a box of items that will help them be prepared for anything. Items could include flashlights, lighters, ropes and expert advice on how to survive in the wild or hunt in an emergency.

Is your dog your best friend?

There’s BarkBox. You heard right. If your pooch isn’t spoiled enough, you can get him his own monthly subscription box of dog toys and treats starting at $19. There is also a version for cats. It’s called MeowBox. It starts at $20, and I’m assuming it’s because cats are harder to buy for. So finicky.

One of the reasons there’s such a variety of boxes is the relatively low cost of entry into the subscription box market. Each unit generally sells for under $40, so filling each box isn’t prohibitively expensive, and ordering products to fill the boxes can be scaled based on the number of orders from end customers.

Even a local woman is giving it a try with a monthly handmade American crafts subscription box service called Homemade Hive. That business will be featured in the Feb. 20 print edition of Lehigh Valley Business.

A box curator needs a strong knowledge of a particular interest, contact with individuals or companies that make that product and a little creativity to put together collections that fellow enthusiasts would enjoy.


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