Gift Basket Service Wins First Prize in Washington County Business Challenge | Latest titles

Carolyn R. Wilson | For Washington County News

ABINGDON, Va. — Cassie Rowe’s vision to create a business that provides service to busy customers earned her first place in the 2019 Washington County Business Challenge.

Rowe, owner of the Build-a-Basket gift shop in Abingdon, attended the Chamber of Commerce’s briefing breakfast on March 21 unaware that she had been chosen, out of six companies, to receive the first instead of the existing business expansion price. .

“Honestly, I thought I was going home empty-handed. They announced the third place winner, then they called the second place winner. At that point, I thought to myself that I would try again next year,” said the 27-year-old entrepreneur.

“When they called my name I was in absolute shock. I got emotional when I got on stage and looked outside and saw all the people who had helped me go. so far clap for me.

Rowe, who started her business in 2018 creating gift baskets for customers, received $5,000 to help her grow and grow her business. She also received a free one-year membership in the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

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During the Business Challenge, Rowe learned new business management skills from mentors, including Cindy Fields, director of the Small Business Development Center.

“If I hadn’t earned a penny for the challenge, the opportunity to learn from all these people was still amazing,” Rowe said.

Right now, she’s not concerned about the size of her 400 square foot storefront. Instead, she plans to add an employee to her growing business in the coming months, which will allow her to do more face-to-face marketing and make her presence known in the community.

“I believe you should bloom where you are planted. Do your best with what you have. I was lucky to get this far,” Rowe said.

Although she enjoys serving take-out customers, Rowe aims to establish corporate customers — businesses that order multiple baskets ahead of time. She began selling her bespoke baskets to local real estate companies who provide the gifts to new homeowners.

“I knew I didn’t need a big store when I found this building for rent,” said Rowe, which is located around the corner from the Heritage Mall on West Main Street. The store is full of gift ideas ranging from jewelry and gourmet pre-packaged foods to home decor items and handmade soaps and lotions.

“You can literally put anything in a gift basket, wrap it up, put a bow in it, and make it pretty.

“But no one needs to set foot in my shop to place an order. I can take orders over the phone or online, issue an invoice, and deliver the gift basket before someone has time to drop by. We do the work for you in this hectic world. We put it all together, make it beautiful and create a lasting impression,” she said.

“I know how busy schedules can really put a damper on the whole gifting situation. Not everyone has the time to spend hours looking for the perfect gift, wrapping it and making sure it gets where it needs to go.

“That’s really what our whole business is about – the convenience of being able to place an order and stop to grab it on the way to the event.”

Rowe often has to shop around for items requested for personalized gift baskets, such as the order placed by Abingdon resident Amy Fellhauer.

Fellhauer recently wanted to send a basket to a friend who was in the hospital. “I gave Cassie a couple of ideas. I called it a relaxation basket. She included gift cards for a local candy store and her favorite drink, Dr Pepper.

Fellhauer, who works at the US District Court in Abingdon, said the service was a big help to him during the week. “I tend to use my lunch hour to run errands, and there’s never enough time to finish. When I need a gift basket, Cassie does the legwork and I don’t have to worry about it.

Rowe creates baskets to accommodate even hard-to-buy men. One of the first baskets she made for Valentine’s Day last year included a loaf of bread because the customer’s husband liked a certain kind. One of the most popular gift baskets for men is a snack basket. Another men’s basket contains items for washing a car.

A “Pamper Me” basket includes soaps and lotions made by local vendor Flying Pig.

Her ultimate gift basket is a fire pit that contains an outdoor party for four.

“We work with any budget,” Rowe said. “I try to be everyone’s gift shop. I want everyone to feel comfortable shopping here.

The average gift basket is $25, but she’s made some for as low as $10. A basket of $220 contained all kinds of breakfast foods.

Business has steadily increased since it opened a year ago.

“Our customer base is growing as we prove ourselves to our customers,” she said.

“In just three months this year, I’ve already done half the business I did in 2018.

“I never would have thought 15 months ago that I would be where I am today,” the business owner said.

“I have maps of Abingdon here in the store, and I’m actually on the map. Can you believe that? It shocks me every day.

Build-a-Basket is located at 789 W. Main St. Follow the company on Facebook at call 276-492-6987.

Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at [email protected]

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