Alcohol themed gift baskets, while they can be paired with food items, are often a separate type that gift basket services can market. This article will further expand on the necessities for alcohol gift baskets, the qualifications, supplies and equipment a business needs for them, and the safety issues you need to be aware of.
Many of the qualifications needed for making and selling alcohol gift baskets are quite similar to those for food gift baskets. However, there are a few additional qualifications that you should have or acquire in order to successfully offer alcohol gift baskets.
Knowledge of Alcohol--Having some level of knowledge when it comes to certain types of alcohol, like wine, is a must when it comes to gift baskets. There are hundreds of different kinds of alcohol and within each kind are different flavors, qualities, and production methods that impact things like taste and value. Basic knowledge of alcohol can be valuable in helping you determine quality, care, and pricing for alcoholic products.
Creativity--Creativity in making and designing gift baskets can be just as vital a qualification in making alcohol gift baskets. Some gift basket businesses choose to not include alcoholic beverages in their products because they are unsure of how to include them in a way that appeals to clients. Others choose not to after attempting to sell alcohol gift baskets and possibly failing to put them together in a creative and attractive manner.
Legal--A necessary qualification for alcoholic gift baskets is one that is required in order to sell them. In addition to obtaining a license to operate your business, you will be required to obtain a license that allows you sell and distribute alcoholic beverages and products. Your business license may include alcohol without any additional fees, but it depends on the state you operate from; in Connecticut, for example, a $200 annual permit covers all forms of licensing for gift basket businesses.
Customers and Competitors
Customers--The customer base for alcoholic gift baskets is going to be a little narrower than some other gift basket themes. Within the United States, the legal drinking age of 21 years is going to affect who your customers are and who you can legally sell your product to. Likewise, not everyone who is of age chooses to or can drink alcohol for a multitude of reasons, thus removing those individuals from your potential customer base.
In offering alcohol gift baskets, both with alcohol as the main feature and as an accessory, you are also appealing to customers who consider themselves to be fans of certain types of alcohol. This may include self-described wine snobs, or fans of micro-brew beers that want to try products that they might not be able to find locally.
Competitors--The main competition that you will most likely have with alcohol gift baskets will be similar to ones you would have with food gift baskets. Just as those who do not or cannot drink alcohol are excluded from your customer base, businesses that choose to not carry alcoholic products or are not licensed to do so are exempt from your competition. Large companies or retailers that offer gift baskets are still your competitors in the market, and may have an upper hand with gift baskets containing alcohol due to funding and the size of their network.
With alcohol gift baskets, you do have an additional set of competitors in the form of wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Businesses and companies who produce and distribute their own alcohol directly to consumers will still sell their product to other businesses and companies to sell. Both parties will still compete in the market with each other for customers and profit over the same product.
The equipment required for producing alcohol gift baskets will primarily be related to storage. Most types of alcoholic beverages are fine with being set on a shelf until it is time for them to be opened or used. However, atmospheric conditions of the space they are being stored can create problems. The majority of alcohol producers, distributors, and consumers have established a series of general guidelines for alcohol storage that are designed to ensure quality and safety. Your storage equipment will need to allow you control over temperature and light exposure, both of which can damage the alcohol and make it undrinkable.
As the majority of alcoholic products come in glass containers, you may need to have equipment designed to prevent breakages during storage and shipment. This may mean having additional padding to wrap bottles in, or security measures in place to prevent product from being damaged in storage. Broken glass can result a loss of product and money, as well as create messes that can lead to additional damages and pose a safety hazard. Most types of alcohol need to be stored in a certain position for the sake of their flavor, aging, and to prevent oxidation. With the exception of wine, which should be stored laying on its side, alcoholic beverages are best stored upright to ensure longevity.
The supplies you will need for alcohol gift baskets will depend on what types of alcohol you plan on offering. Not all suppliers that work with the gift basket industry may carry alcoholic beverages, or may limit themselves to beers or wines. You may have to use more than one supplier or work with producers directly if you want a specific type of alcohol. This may pose some problems with cost, as you may not be limited in offers presented by suppliers. However, if you choose to work directly with a winery, brewery, or distillery, you may be able to save some money by cutting out the middleman.
You have the option of including accessories relevant to alcohol in your gift baskets. Different types of alcohol require different types of glasses when served. Studies have shown that the shape of the glass in which beverages like wine are served in affects the taste. You may also find the inclusion of items such as corkscrews and novelty bottle openers, bottle stoppers, cozies, and holders a viable option for your baskets.
Food items that have alcohol in them, like liquor-infused chocolates, may be something you choose to include in your gift baskets. Combinations of food and alcoholic beverages are common and may be something you decide to include. Wine and cheese is a popular pairing and some cheeses or cheese spreads are infused with hints of the wine that it goes best with. However, this may pose some legal issues like those discussed later in the article, so it is best to make sure that you are compliant with all laws as you create and sell your alcohol gift baskets.
Your success will depend on how your business operates, where you are located, your supplies and equipment, and your staffing. However, as you will be handling alcohol, there may be some necessary changes for your standard operation due to any legal requirements that may be in place.
Start-up costs are a crucial part of standard operations for businesses that choose to include alcohol in their gift baskets. Wines and spirits can be expensive items for a business to keep in stock, both to purchase them for their inventory and to purchase the necessary equipment for storing them. If you choose to include alcohol as part of your gift basket business, then you will need to plan your budget accordingly.
As part of the standard operations for your alcohol gift baskets, you will need to obtain the correct licensing as required by your state. Stated previously, the requirements for licensing will be different for each state and can affect how your do business. The way you operate your gift basket business can be affected by those licensing requirements, as well as other laws and regulations in place for the sale and distribution of alcohol. Additionally, including alcohol as a product in your gift basket business can also affect things like your taxes and your business classification as laid out by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is under the control of the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Depending on the size of your business, both when it begins and as it grows, you may have employees assisting you in completing orders. These employees are equally required to follow any laws in relation to alcohol as you are, including age requirements. Any employees under the legal drinking age may not be able to handle alcohol in a retail setting according to the requirements for your licensing. It also may be something to consider in regards to security, as underage employees may gain access to your inventory and abuse alcohol.
The law is often the biggest safety issue when it comes to alcohol gift baskets. You are required to follow all laws regarding the sale and distribution of alcohol as part of your licensing. The age of your customers, both the person paying for the basket and the one receiving it, must be of legal drinking age. If the sale of an alcoholic product from your business involves someone under the legal drinking age, there is the possibility that you may held accountable.
The laws of alcohol sale and distribution can also be an issue and may impact your supply as well. If you choose to include accessories or food items with the alcohol, you may run into issues on the state level. A byproduct of a law regulating how supermarkets sell alcohol in New York prevents the shipment of alcohol and food in the same packaging. Additionally, there may be distribution laws concerning where the winery, brewery, or distillery that your alcoholic products come from that may limit where they can be sold and shipped to.
As stated previously, storage is a major issue when it comes to alcohol gift baskets, and storage problems like spoilage can make the products in your alcohol gift baskets unsafe for your customers. Incorrect temperatures in the storage space can cause a breakdown of the chemical bonds of the alcohol and even damage the bottles. Some liquors come in plastic bottles which can disintegrate if exposed to heat and ultraviolet light, contaminating the contents for consumers. Follow the correct requirements for storing alcohol and even ask your supplier how they store and transfer the product to ensure consistency.
While it is not always applicable, some alcoholic beverages contain allergens that -can be cause for concern. Most beers are wheat-based and thus those who have issues with gluten like Celiac Disease cannot have those products. Some wines and liquors are infused with flavorings, which may pose an issue to those with allergies. Other items that you include in your gift baskets, like cheese, may also have ingredients that are allergens. As with food gift baskets, you may want to request that customers disclose any allergies that the recipient of the basket may have for the sake of safety.
In addition to the law in New York affecting shipping alcohol and food, there can be safety issues with the packaging and shipping of your alcoholic gift baskets. This is, once again, a result of the glass bottles that most wine and spirits come in. Incorrect or insufficient packaging of your gift baskets can cause the bottles and glasses to break during shipment. Not only can this create a mess, but also a hazard for the recipient of the basket and possibly those handling it during transport.