It’s the holiday season and the time where those shopping for food lovers rack their brains finding the perfect gift. While traditional cookware, bakeware or kitchen tools may each offer gift-giving opportunities, adding shelf-stable foods into a gift basket makes an even bigger statement.
Dave and Mary Weldy, owners of Chelan, WA-based Culinary Apple, do a heavy business in shelf-stable foods and recognize the importance of adding different foods into gift baskets. Additionally, the duo not only creates gift baskets for customers on request, but also teamed up with several corporate businesses. This has the couple and their staff fielding requests for gift baskets from real estate agents, the local conference center and others.
The store owners recently spoke to GOURMET INSIDER® about some of the more important aspects of adding shelf-stable foods to gift baskets.
Make Examples: Mary Weldy explained that prior to becoming Culinary Apple, their previous retail outlet, The Apple Store, was heavily into gift giving. She realized that in order for customers to feel confident in the gift baskets they would order, they would need to visually see what they would be getting. “You need to have an example of what you can do so that people know what to expect,” Weldy said.
Weldy suggests taking photos of baskets you make to grace the pages of your website or create examples of gift baskets to keep on display in the store. However, she said to use products that won’t be sold — like sample jars — so you don’t have to take the goods from your own inventory.
Watch Your Dates : Dave Weldy explained that when making a gift basket, sell by and use by dates are very important. This rings especially true with corporate gifts as they may sit in an office for several weeks before being given.
“You can’t use a product that is going to go bad in six months, you have to look for items with longer times, more than six months or a year. You don’t want to give someone a gift that’s going to go bad, especially when they may not use it right away,” he said.
Secret Weapon: The Private Label: Weldy explained that the decision to private label most of Culinary Apple’s shelf-stable foods came with an added benefit — people can’t shop online for the product and need to return to the store. “We really like the private labeling aspect because it brings people back into the store instead of trying to order the food online. It also keeps us top of mind when the customer reaches for that item in their pantry,” he said.
Mary Weldy explained that private labeling has brought in new customers, too, that have been given gift baskets including food products from the store.
“I’ve had people that have been in town for a conference or are just passing through come in and get some of the food to go home with. They tell me that if our name wasn’t on it, they wouldn’t have known where to go,” she said.
Market Yourselves: Weldy said that she’s learned to put Culinary Apple’s name on everything. This, she said, brings in customers that received the gifts. It also sets up the store up as a go-to place to order gift baskets online.
“We have an enclosure card that we include with our baskets. It has a little history on one side and a place to write a note on the other. We also put other literature — like a list of the apples we ship — on the inside of the basket, too. We put our signature on everything,” she said.
Have In-Store Samples: While you may get those customers that order gift baskets online or aren’t interested in which foods are included, there are also those customers that will not leave the basket creation to the experts.
“You need to have samples of the products you put in the gift baskets. Some people really want to try things before they select them,” Dave Weldy said.