The time has passed when Flagstaff business owners can take it for granted that residents will shop locally out of mere loyalty or a desire to see tax revenues stay in town. For years, local businesses have pondered the question, “How can we keep our customers from going to Phoenix?” One local business, Creative Gifts To Go, now has us asking, “Why would they want to go to Phoenix?”
In an era of deep-pocket discounters, mega-packers and mass merchandisers, this local business is thriving and growing. Owner Joyce Reid contributes it to outstanding customer service, quality, and the willingness to take a chance on new ideas.
Joyce began Creative Gifts To Go in the autumn of 1992 as a personalized gift basket business. During the past 25 years, this gift company with a new way of thinking, has gradually grown to be much more than merely a gift basket business. The company website ShopCreativeGifts attracts buyers from all over the world.
Why would you want to go to Phoenix to shop? “I can’t imagine,” Joyce tells us. “My product lines come from all over the world. That’s today’s advantage of attending tradeshows and networking with other gift company owners through the internet.
Some of Joyce’s best customers live in Phoenix but shop in Flagstaff, placing their orders either by phone or email. “I deliver locally and ship nationwide. Most of the time I can ship for next-day delivery to a business address in Arizona cheaper than my customer can pay to have it delivered locally. And, I’m familiar enough with the other gift basket companies that for those times when you need same-day delivery, I can refer you to a company that will do a good job for you rather than just choosing a name from the phonebook.”
Joyce prides herself on her reputation of providing outstanding customer service. Realizing that time is valuable to her customers, Joyce makes regular “in-your-office presentations.” No longer do you have to fight traffic and crowds or spend hours making the long drive to Phoenix in the heat to do shopping. It’s as easy as picking up the phone and making an appointment to have Joyce go to your office with her portfolio and some sample gifts and baskets. “Each gift order is custom-designed for each customer,” Joyce tells us. “The samples give you much more of an idea of what you will receive than flipping through a catalog from one of the national companies will. Product photography can make a gift basket appear much larger and elegant than it really is. I’ve had customers tell me that they’ve ordered their holiday thank-you gifts from some of these national companies and were disappointed with what they received for their money.”
Creative Gifts To Go works with other local businesses as well, either incorporating their products into her “Flagstaff’s Finest” gift baskets or serving their customers who are looking for something different.
Housewarming gifts, in all sizes and price ranges, are regularly used by Flagstaff Realtors and Property Managers. There is a large national company, headquartered in Phoenix, that some local apartment managers use for their move-in and renewal gifts but Joyce now counts eleven of these complexes as regular customers for her line of housewarming gifts. “I can easily compete with the national company as far as price and quality and there’s no shipping costs. I also offer a much larger variety of gift ideas to choose from. A large company can’t afford to provide the individualized personalization that I offer to my customers.”
Variety and uniqueness are two qualities that Joyce searches for when shopping the tradeshows. “The term Gift Baskets is really a misnomer,” she tells us. “Baskets are still the most popular container but I use golf buckets, wagons, birdhouses, flower pots and even a rolled-up garden hose as a container. When I shop, I look at just about everything as a possibility. Creating uniquely-different gifts that will make people smile is what keeps this business fun and exciting. After all, my motto is “delivering smiles nationwide since 1992.”
What does the future hold for Creative Gifts To Go? “Our door is always open to new ideas,” Joyce says. “The willingness to take a chance is what growth and business success is all about. For example, I’ve just completed shipping out an order of gifts created as premiums for subscriptions for a new national parents’ magazine Recipes4Learning. This was an opportunity that resulted from my website. Another order is for brownie and cookie gift baskets being shipped to medical facilities all over the US. I’m one of the organizers of The National Specialty Gift Association, Telegift International, GiftBasketNetwork and am editor of the online magazine for the industry. These connections always provide new opportunities and new ideas for providing better service to my customers.”
Why would you want to go to Phoenix to shop? Perhaps you enjoy the long drive, the heat, and maybe even the excitement of the crowds. But there’s no reason to go to Phoenix to buy a gift when you’ve got one of the best-known gift basket companies in the state right here in Flagstaff.