Retail and Small Business & Startups

Gift box company looking out for small businesses

Boxed GR assembles array of local products to help ‘my customers impress their customers.’

December 2, 2016
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Boxed GR
The gift boxes can be filled with specific requested products from small businesses or left up to the creative judgment of Boxed GR representatives. Courtesy Boxed GR

When Missy McCall started Boxed GR, it wasn’t just because she loved making gift boxes. She wanted to be a gift to the small business economy.

McCall, who started the home- and online-based company in January 2014, describes Boxed GR as “the best of Grand Rapids, boxed.” Her mission is to fill boxes with a custom array of local products, which can include food, beverages, samples, gift cards and other items from area businesses, and deliver them to her clients.

She said clients may hand-pick each item or leave the selection up to her, and the packages can be for parties, holiday gifts, thank-you packages and more.

“Some people are really busy, so they tell me, ‘I need 10 $50 boxes,’ and I get to choose what I put in them,” she said.

McCall, who has a master’s degree in management and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from Aquinas College, said she was working in the health care industry when it was time for a change — to pursue something she’d always wanted to do.

“I always wanted to own my own business, and I always looked up to other people that were doing it, and I wanted to somehow help them,” she said. “I’m also super passionate about everything to do with Grand Rapids, and I wanted to showcase all the cool products we have here.”

After preparing for about six months, McCall launched the business with the help of $500 from a crowdfunding campaign. She said her initial plan was to create an entirely subscription-based sales model, where individuals, families or businesses would pay a flat rate per month to have boxes delivered to them.

But then, she began to realize that demand was coming from another source: corporate clients.

“I would say aside from holidays, 80 percent of my business is corporate client gifting,” she said. “I do banks, mortgage companies and realtors, for example.”

McCall said she decides which small businesses to feature in the boxes based on a couple of factors.

“A lot of times, it boils down to what packaging looks good and who is easiest to work with,” she said. “Sometimes, I have super quick deadlines to meet, so I’ll only go with products I know I can get in that period of time. Also, another big thing is that I like to work with smaller companies. The little guy is my favorite.

“I work a lot with Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters. I can call them and pick up coffee that was just roasted and smells amazing.”

Linda Snow, owner of Moondrop Herbals at 351 Cummings Ave. NW, said selling products to Boxed GR has been a breath of fresh air.

“It’s really nice to work with another local company who’s not afraid to promote other local companies,” she said. “I think it’s a great service to people who want to give gifts. … And for me, as a small local business, it’s nice to have help with promoting. I don’t have unlimited dollars for advertising, so every little bit helps.”

Snow said she has seen small upticks in business after selling products for particular gift boxes.

“I have had people come in after I put a coupon in (a gift box) with the tea or spice blend, and then they become return customers.”

McCall said her staff consists of herself and one part-time employee, plus seasonal help from friends and family during the holidays. While she said she would eventually like to have a storefront and more employees, she said her main goal is to keep the “slow and steady” pace going — and to keep helping the Grand Rapids economy.

“I want people to think about making local choices more,” McCall said. “I want people to discover a new product that’s made here in GR and search that out and buy locally. When people buy locally, more of the money stays in our economy.”

She said she also enjoys seeing how her boxes strengthen ties between corporate clients and their customers.

“If I put together a really fun and thoughtful gift and a client likes it, that strengthens their business with their clients,” she said. “I think it’s really cool that I get to put together fun gifts, helping support locally owned businesses and helping my customers impress their customers.

“The reason why I do all of this is not just about the gift boxes; it’s mostly about promoting locally owned businesses. That’s what I’m passionate about.”

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