29 Mar Making a house a home
We are often asked how we came up with this particular business idea. We owe the credit for the idea to one guy, who redirected our ideas of purchasing a popular franchise to doing something no one was doing. It was a simple conversation that set our lives on a new path. “You know what you ought to do”, he said. “You should do gifts for realtors. We’re supposed to do gifts for our home buyers at closing and I never know what to get. I’m a guy… I don’t know what people would like.” Our first thoughts were along the lines of ‘no one is already doing this’ and ‘is there enough real estate agents that would want or need this’? The due diligence into the right franchise purchase came to a halt as we researched this new idea. Turned out that no one was doing gifts for real estate closings or housewarming gifts or as it turns out, gift programs for mortgage brokers, home builders, etc.
Realtors, lenders, builders and everyone else in that industry were either putting something together themselves, buying an off-the-shelf retail item or worse… not doing anything at all. Our first gift catalog came out in the fall of 2000 and everything was centered around housewarming gift needs. We had a “Breakfast in Bed” gift, a “Pasta Night” gift, a picnic basket (called “Everything but the Ants”) and gourmet gifts that a new home owner may have wanted. A lot has changed since then. That original offering of 9 items is now ten times that. We spent the first couple years listening to our clients to find out what they wanted. Sometimes it matched what we wanted to do and sometimes it didn’t. Often, they had better ideas than we did. We paid attention.
There is only one gift that we still sell today that we started selling 15+ years ago — our chips & salsa gift. This popular gift came from a discussion with a mortgage broker about how they had been sending store bought chips & salsa to their clients and they were embarrassed by the presentation, (or lack thereof). We designed then what is known as our Chips & Salsa Gift Set. We have sold over 20,000 of these as application gifts, approval gifts, under contract gifts and closing gifts. Who would have thought? Not us.
That little business of selling housewarming gifts was a great launch into our larger business of corporate gifts. We are grateful for our starting place and for the paths we went down to get us to our current place. Who knows what that ending place will look like, but I’m excited to one day see.