Years ago, when Saul Good Gift Co. founder Saul Brown used to sell conventional gift baskets for another company, he learned something important about himself.
“I couldn’t sell something I wasn’t passionate about,” he says. “And I saw these baskets as a wasteful product – using little products made to look big and fancy by using excess packaging.”
Still, the job got him thinking about why people and companies give gift baskets in the first place. They were opportunities to tell stories that aroused particular feelings. If these stories were told well, with intention and genuine value, they could build relationships.
Saul started his gift basket company while he was a business student back in 2006. It was a school project that took on a life of its own, revealing ways he could “start a company I felt good about; one that created value in my local community and protected the environment.”
Unlike most other gift basket companies, Saul Good Gift Co. procures all its items locally. That means, for example, that the Vancouver Foodie basket features (among so much else) delicacies like chocolate bars from Burnaby’s, cookies from Langley’s Kitchening & Co., and olive oil from Vancouver’s Domenica Fiore.
Local sourcing already gave Saul Good Gift Co. a sustainability advantage, but the company was able to become even more environmentally friendly through its packaging choices. Saul knew he didn’t want to use the traditional baskets he’d once sold, which typically feature materials from all over the world, including plastic. Enter Great Little Box Company (GLBC).
“I worked with the GLBC team to design gift boxes that would be aesthetically pleasing enough to replace the baskets,” Saul says. “We created a two-piece box made from recycled materials and a printed ribbon that would slide into slots, sealing the package. Last year alone, we saved over 200 trees through our packaging choices.”
That experience started Saul on a journey of learning more than he expected to about packaging. That capability serves him well as he offers a special service creating customized branded gifts for local businesses and events.
“Most often we apply branded belly bands and matching greeting cards,” he says, “but we also create custom boxes where I act as the go-between with my customers and GLBC. We did that for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, for example.
“It really helps to know the packaging lingo. I’ve definitely learned so much from every single rep I’ve worked with at GLBC.”
Thanks to Saul Good Gift Co.’s local business model, the COVID-19 pandemic has not negatively impacted the company the way it has others with more globalized supply chains. If anything, like many other e-commerce companies, they have seen new markets open up. For example, it’s increasingly common for employers to send care packages to workers who are working from home.
Still, March 2020 was a major shock.
“When the impact of the pandemic really hit, our e-commerce site just stopped,” says Saul. “But then our first order came in, and it was from a friend at LOCO BC, an organization that promotes local business. It felt like a light at the end of the tunnel.
“That type of positivity is felt in every exchange we have with small, local producers. It resonates with the people who work with us and purchase from us. If anything, the pandemic has shown us how essential and resilient our local economies are.”
It truly does feel like Saul Good Gift Co.’s local, environmentally responsible model is an idea whose time has come. It’s a privilege to support them.