Home-based gift basket business flourishes

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This article has been published 25/11/2014 (2495 days ago), the information it contains may therefore no longer be up to date.

Local business Just Gift Baskets creates gift baskets for every occasion.

Owner and operator Laurel Wiebe has been making baskets since 1998. Wiebe trained and worked as a nurse, but when she went on maternity leave with her second child, she began to brainstorm ideas that would be more compatible with the schedule of a growing family.

When her stepfather told her about a gift basket he saw delivered to the hospital that she could probably make one, she thought she probably could. She went to a trade show in Edmonton in the fall of 1998 and “placed orders for all kinds of things.”

“I had never built a gift basket before,” says Wiebe.

With her order of supplies, she made her first set of baskets in her basement and sold them over Christmas time. And that was the start of a profitable business that has grown steadily over the years.

Looking back, Wiebe said “I love it. I have no regrets.”

At first, Wiebe sold his products through yellow page ads and word of mouth. She worked mostly in the evening, when her children were asleep. Her husband, Ken, set up a website for her (www.justgiftbaskets.mb.ca) and her marketing changed.

Today, Wiebe has a permanent part-time employee, but over the Christmas period, she hires four full-time employees. About 50 percent of her business comes at Christmas, when she sells up to 1,000 baskets.

Its best-selling basket is the Gourmet Delight, which contains crackers, cheese, antipasti, Lindt chocolates, cookies, nuts and candies.

“Chocolate is a big part of what we do,” says Wiebe.

“Everyone who receives them loves them,” says customer Andrea Mensforth. “They are beautiful. They are so well put together.”

These days, all of Wiebe’s marketing is done online and a courier delivers the baskets.

“I’m local but I’m online. I have a loyal following around the world.”

Its international customers love to send local gifts to Winnipeggers. Wiebe also has many reliable local customers, including several regular business customers.

On the day I visited, she prepared a basket that included impeccable quality chocolate, phenomenal confectionery, green iced tea candies and delicate Asiago cheese straws, as well as smoked salmon from a family fishery in British Columbia.

“What sets us apart from other companies is quality,” she explains. “Whatever I put in the basket, I would feed my family.”

Helen Lepp Friesen is community correspondent for Fort Garry. You can contact her at [email protected]

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