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Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? Yes
If you're the type who goes nuts at holidays and birthdays, choosing oh-so-special gifts and then dressing them up in creative packages, you'll get all wrapped up in a gift basket business. You can give gifts all year long and get paid for doing it! This is one of the hottest businesses going, with recent annual sales of $800 million. If you set your creativity on high and develop your own special niche, you can be very successful. Gift basket entrepreneurs buy gifts and tuck them into baskets, decorative tins, boxes or bags for their customers to give to that certain someone. Each basket of goodies is designed around a theme, which can be anything from romance to travel to new baby to new home to just about anything you can dream up. There are even divorce baskets! The gift basket business's advantages are that you can start part time, your startup costs are relatively low, and if you're a creative person who likes conjuring up unique themes and packaging and putting them all together, it's a whole lot of fun. Plus, the business is gratifying--everybody's delighted to receive a fancy basket full of gifts. A gift basket can be elegant, whimsical or sporty, but make sure it looks smart--you can't just toss in a hodgepodge of objects and stick on a bow. You'll need a flair for the creative and the design ability to pull it all together into an attractive package. You'll also need to be a savvy marketer who can sell those unique baskets to a variety of clients and customers.
The quintessential consumer gift-basket customer is the middle-to upper-income female baby boomer, but you can sell to just about anybody. Be sure to tie up business accounts. These will keep your cash flow going during slower retail seasons and can be a terrific source of repeat sales. Wrap up travel and real estate agents, innkeepers, apartment complexes, car and boat salespeople, public relations firms, or any other corporate clients who'll want to thank, wow or woo their own customers. And don't forget clubs and organizations--they're always throwing dinners, teas, parties and assorted awards banquets for which gifts are a necessary ingredient. You can attract these clients and customers with creative marketing. Send brochures to businesses and organizations, then follow up by setting appointments to show your baskets or a professional portfolio of your designs. To reap retail customers, place ads in local newspapers, host home parties à la Tupperware and exhibit at crafts fairs. Send press releases to local and national publications, offer yourself as a guest on a local radio chat show, and donate a few baskets to other businesses' grand openings or for fund-raisers in return for free publicity.
In most states, you'll need a liquor license to add that swanky bottle of champagne or fine wine, and you'll want a resale license so you can buy gifts and supplies at wholesale prices. You'll also want a shrink-wrap machine (or use a heavy-duty hair dryer or paint peeler); that indispensable crafter's tool, the hot glue gun; and a work space large enough for you to spread out your materials and assemble your baskets. (Keep in mind that a business client may order 100 or more baskets at a time.)