Summer 2008
Baskets & Beyond By Kristen Hains

Article Resources

Metropolitan Gifts

Sue's Gift Basket & Sweet Shoppe

The Bwarie Gift Basket Co.

Wooing Corporate at Metropolitan Gifts

Greg Roberts was once a consultant in the hospitality industry, working with upscale hotels like the St. Regis and the Ritz-Carlton. During this stint, Roberts got a good look at the kinds of gift baskets being sent and received. “I saw what people were sending and realized it could be better,” he says. “I always put myself in the recipient’s shoes, and wanted to design gifts that represented quality, basically, and something that they could hold on to.”

The idea motivated Roberts to launch Metropolitan Gifts, an upscale online gift basket business, in late 2005. Roberts prepares gift baskets for such events as the Emmys, the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Super Bowl.

While he hasn’t written off the idea of a brick and mortar store, his focus has been to create a strong Internet presence. Shop owners have taken notice, including Wrapsody, a high-end invitation, stationery and gift store in El Segundo, CA, where Metropolitan Gifts offers a selection of gift baskets.

Metropolitan Gifts works with custom-made boxes, full leather magazine racks or unique suitcases. The containers are filled with items such as Tumbador Chocolates, Kate’s Cookies, Varda Chocolatiers and Cavendish fruit candy. Depending on the kind of basket, gourmet cheese and crackers, and occasionally a bottle of wine, are included.

Roberts says he devotes a lot of time and thought to the happiness of the recipient (and therefore, the giver). “If they’re not happy, we’re not successful, so it’s very important for us to keep that level of service,” he says. For example, there is the special New York City container he creates, which is filled with specially themed items like a chocolate metro card, city bagel chips and more.

Corporate clients provide a large share of Metropolitan Gifts’ business. Roberts helps businesses send thank-you gifts that help bring back repeat customers.

While a lot of his marketing is word-of-mouth, Roberts believes in well-thought-out marketing campaigns. He recently sent a mailer to about 1,000 recipients—hotels, sales and marketing directors, and other corporate clients. As part of the mailing, Roberts sent out a four-minute DVD, a chocolate bar and a card that read, “We help Toyota, AIG and the Ritz-Carlton thank their clients and customers. We did the Oscars, the Emmys, the Golden Globes, and the Super Bowl. Let us show you what we can do for you.” The reaction, Roberts says, has been “unbelievable.”

Kristen Hains

Kristen Hains is a professional writer based in Traverse City, Michigan. A former retailer, she is now a regular contributor to Dance Retailer News magazine.

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