Why don’t my gift baskets look like those in the magazines?

mastersHave you ever looked at one of our trade magazines, delighting in the exquisite designs and huge variety of products used in each basket, and then asked yourself: “Why don’t my gift baskets look like that?”

The designs in the magazines are what those new to the industry see and try to emulate.  When they either fail to achieve the same effect OR have accumulated cases of the many products OR can’t sell the completed designs because they cost too much, they consider themselves a failure.

What they don’t realize is that there is a big difference between many of the baskets designed for the magazines and those that sell to our customers.  The next time you receive a trade magazine, with its many gorgeous designs, take a more careful look at those designs. 

Yes, they are gorgeous.  Yes, they entice you to strive for a higher level of design.  Some of them are even designs that we can emulate and sell.  But there are many that I could never create and sell in my market area.  They are the type of baskets that I would produce as a donation when I want to really impress but could never sell and make a profit.  They were designed to give you ideas and to encourage you to strive for more than just an “everyday” look.  They were designed to sell advertiser’s products.   Many of them are winners or entries in design competitions at the last Convention.  They were designed for the design effect with little thought given to cost or whether the design will sell. 

Ask yourself how these designs will look wrapped in cello–which is essential to keep the products in place.  Can they even be sucessfully wrapped in cello at all?  How will they look when the bows, perching promptly on either side or front of the basket, are suddenly moved to the top of the cello?  How much does the excellent photography techniques used affect the appearance of the basket? 

Look at the products used to create the basket.  Are they primarily high cost products or a mixture of high-end and reasonably priced ones?  How much of the cost of the basket is dedicated to gorgeous enhancements and floral treatments?  Think about how much time was spent designing this particular basket.  Do you have that kind of time to devote to each and every basket that you sell?  If you’re familiar with wholesale prices–and most of you are– sit down and calculate what you would guess the basket would cost to create.  Then use your formula to determine what you would need to sell that basket for. 

Look at the holiday themed issues.  Count the number of holiday specific themed products are used in one basket.  Can your business afford to buy cases of a dozen or more holiday themed products for a holiday such as Halloween?  My business certainly couldn’t.  I’d be eating Halloween candies and cookies for the rest of the year.

Now that you’ve looked at these gorgeous works of art and asked yourself the above questions, look at them as they were intended.  Most, but perhaps not all, were not intended for you to copy and sell off your store’s shelves or website pages.  They were intended to give you ideas and to encourage you to buy advertiser’s products. 

With that in mind, take the bits and pieces of what you like about each design and create your own.  Create designs that you know will sell for you.  Use your imagination and design talents to create something similar, but more practical, with products that you can use in a large number of designs.  Incorporate one or two themed items and even some florals and enhancements (if that is your style) keeping a careful eye on the total cost of products and labor. 

When you are finished, you probably won’t have a gift basket that looks like the ones in the magazines but you’ll have a design that you can sell and make a profit on in your local market.  And isn’t making a profit what being in business is all about?

And, just in case you are wondering, the basket shown above is one of mine that was created specifically for the 2007 Designer of the Year competion.  It won second place as “Best Corporate Design” and, no, it’s not a design created to sell. It was created for a specific purpose and served that purpose well but the cost of the products used and time involved to create it would make it a difficult one to sell for a profit.

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