Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Samplers on Sale EVERYWHERE! (well.....almost!)

First, let me apologize for being MIA for the past couple of weeks. I have Late Stage Lyme Disease ("Late Stage" just means I've had Lyme for more than 3 years -- 10+ years in my case -- without proper treatment), and when it decides to flare up, my life pretty much comes to a halt. ESPECIALLY when it decides to flare up during cold & flu season, as my immune system is basically non-functioning because of all the little Lyme bugs in my body. Anywho.....this flare-up seems to be on it's way out (FINALLY), and we've got LOTS to get caught up on around here!

For this post, though, I'm just going to focus on giving you all the sale info for the various samplers currently on sale or soon to be on sale.....

My Dream Sample Box

January Direct Sale Box -- Went on sale Jan 31st, "Filled with tons samples, information, catalogs and so much more. Only pay for shipping and handling." -- $19.99

February Boxes -- The site indicates that their boxes go on sale on the 1st of every month, and their "Order a Box" page indicates that February's Boxes are now available for purchase, but they have not yet announced on their Facebook Page that these boxes are on sale -- $22 for small box (15-20 samples), $44 for large box (21-30 samples)

Out of the Box Sampler

Valentine's Sweetheart Box -- Went on sale around 8pm Central time on Jan 31st, "Each month we put together boxes filled to the brim with 15-17 different businesses' samples for you to enjoy. The boxes overflow with items like melts, scrubs, bath, body, tarts, candles, gourmet foods, jewelry, coupons, discounts, cards and much more, from some of the best e-tailers on the web." -- $23.95

Giggle Bags -- Went on sale same time as Valentine Boxes, "These bags will contain just 5 product samples that are suited for adults only. They are a little naughty, but oh so much fun" -- $6.00, but could only be purchased with a Valentine's Sweetheart Box (sold out at time of blog post)

Patty Cake Kids Sampler Box

Besties / Valentine Box -- Went on sale Jan 30th, "There are 10 samples in each box. Since this box can be shared, most items are doubled :) so there will be close to 20 samples in each box" -- $10 plus $5 shipping

Sampler Village

Be My Valentine Simply & Lavishly Samplicious Boxes -- Went on sale at 10am Central time on Jan 21st, "Simply Samplicious Sampler Box includes 15-20 (sometimes even more!) randomly selected samples from our participating Villagers that month. Lavishly Samplicious Sampler Box includes samples from mostly all the Villagers (usually 40-45 samples)." -- $25 for smaller box and I think the larger ones are around $50 (can't say for sure right now, as they sold out within an hour of being listed, so I can't see their price)

Yummylicious Treats Sample Box -- Went on sale at same time as the Valentine Boxes, "Our new Yummylicious Treats Boxes are filled with delicious goodies that will make your mouth scream for more!!"; January's boxes included samples from all 22 participating shops -- $45 (sold out at time of blog post)

Tantalizing Sampler

Valentine's Love Box -- Went on sale today, these samplers include 16-18 samples from both handmade and direct sale businesses -- $18

Valentine Grab Bag -- Went on sale today, these samplers include 8-10 samples from both handmade and direct sale businesses -- $12

The Crafty Sampler

February Sampler -- Goes on sale today, "Full of crafty, homemade goodness. 2 sizes available, shipping included in price." -- $12 for smaller box (10 samples), $18 for larger box (11-20 samples)

Upcoming Sale Dates....

My Pretty Pink Box -- Goes on sale on Wednesday, Feb. 2nd -- beauty and fashion related businesses (not specifically handmade businesses)

The Little Black Boxes -- Goes on sale at 12:01am Central time on Friday, Feb. 4th (normally goes on sale on the 1st of the month, but delayed this month)

The Spotted Box -- Goes on sale between 12pm and 3pm Central time on Tuesday, Feb. 15th

One last note...

WHY do I tell you about samplers that are sold out??? Simple -- I want you to know about them, so that if you are interested in them, you can put the next sale date on your calendars! Almost all of these samplers go on sale on the same date each month, and some of them sell out really fast, so you have to plan if you want one!

In the coming days, I will be reporting on both my January Sample Z Box and my January Yummylicious Box, as well as sharing some amazing samples (and why they're amazing) and discussing LOTS of tips for samples!

Till we meet again....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Dream Sample Boxes Now On Sale

January's My Dream Sample Box is now on sale. They offer two sizes for their monthly samplers: the small size feature 15-20 samples and costs $22.50, and the large size features 21-30 samples and costs $44.00 - prices include Domestic (US) Shipping.

So.....what is My Dream Sample Box? Well, they feature Handmade Businesses and cater to a very targeted audience: "We also get your samples out to some of the top party and event planners out there." This does not mean that you have to be a party planner to buy one of their samplers....it just means that the samples are geared toward party and event planners.

They also offer a Direct Sales Sampler 6 times a year (next one will go on sale on Jan 31st) that features businesses such as Avon, Mary Kay, Scentsy, etc. These samplers provide information about the various direct sales businesses (in case you're looking to go into direct sales) as well as product samples.

Want to learn more about My Dream Sample Box? In addition to their website, be sure to check out their blog and Facebook page! And be sure to let them know that you heard about them from us!

I have not yet personally tried one of their samplers, but I would love to hear from anyone who has!

Sample Z Boxes Now On Sale

January's Sample Z Box is now on sale. From their product listing:

An assortment of wonderful samples from over 15 Zibbet Shop owners to give you a premium look at what we can do!!

That's over 15 samples and coupons that you will receive UP TO 6 pieces of JEWELRY in this BOX, not to mention ALL THE OTHER WONDERFUL GOODIES!!

One of the many samplers listed over there in the right column is Sample Z Box. This sampler features only Handmade sellers with shops on Zibbet. What is Zibbet? Well, it is another selling site, similar to Etsy and Artfire. So, if you want to meet some new Handmade sellers and check out a new selling site, then head on over to Sample Z Box and try one of their samplers! These samplers cost $18, which includes Domestic (US) shipping. To learn more about Sample Z Box, go to their blog or their Facebook page. And be sure to let them know that you heard about them from us!

I have not yet personally tried one of their samplers, but I took the plunge and ordered one of this month's samplers. I will post a review when it arrives. Anyone else tries one of these samplers, would love to hear from you!

Till we meet again...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Issue of Selling Samplers...

As I mentioned in my last post, we need to take a look at the very popular question, "So let me get this straight -- these businesses (samplers) SELL the products that the Handmade businesses send them for FREE???" Actually, here's an example of this question that I have received since taking over The Little Black Boxes: "Crafters send in samples of items for free and The Little Black Box packages them into boxes and sells them for money, right? Why would I want to give someone 100 pairs of earrings so they can sell them?"

Some sampler owners, as I have witnessed in the Etsy forums, get very defensive when asked this question, but I LOVE the opportunity to explain this!

First, businesses must consider the samples they submit to TLBB (or any other sampler on the market) as part of their advertising costs, in the same way that they would pay for an ad in a magazine that is then sold to customers by the publisher.

Yes, all samplers on the market (and there are several) do ask for businesses to submit samples which they then package and sell to their customer base. The sampler businesses DO NOT take credit for the work of the contributing businesses and are in business for the sole (or at least the primary) purpose of providing an advertising service for those businesses. Yes, they must promote their samplers as well as the individual businesses, but without promoting (and selling) their samplers, the contributing businesses' work would not get into the hands of potential customers.

And, yes, folks who buy samplers do go on to buy from the contributing businesses! This type of advertising does not work for everyone, but IT DOES WORK!

As to the issue of the sampler business making a profit off the work of the contributing businesses -- The $20 we charge for TLBB Boxes barely covers all of our costs. It has to cover packaging and packing materials (I do get USPS Priority Mail boxes at no cost from the post office, but I have to buy boxes for International customers as well as paper and ink to print the shipping labels, packing tape, tissue paper, gift boxes, ribbon / bows, business cards & postcards), the costs of the website and newsletter services, shipping, and PayPal fees. Plus, I advertise our boxes on a couple different sites, and these costs come out of this $20 also. And this does not pay a wage at all for me or my mother (co-owner), who spend countless hours each month promoting the Boxes and contributors, in addition to the time it takes us to sort, package, and post the boxes. We are not in this to make a profit -- we took over TLBB because we believe in the business concept and truly want to help Handmade businesses advertise and grow their businesses.

Any questions? Please post them! Would love to hear any feedback and suggestions for future articles, too! Till we meet again... 

PS -- Forgot to mention that income taxes also have to be taken out of that $20 per box charge.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What are Samplers???

Let's start with the basics, shall we? What exactly is a sampler???

A sampler is a collection of products submitted by a variety of businesses. Some products may be "sample size", while others are "full size" products. Either way, they should be accurate representations of the businesses' products that they offer for sale through their websites.

Most samplers limit participation to Handmade businesses, but some do not. The reason that most samplers focus on Handmade is a simple one: selling Handmade online is tough! Samplers came about as a way to help Handmade businesses advertise. Think about it for a moment -- when you go to a craft sale, do you walk through the show with your hands in your pockets? Or do you pick up things that interest you in order to inspect the workmanship? And let's not forget about sniffing the scented items and maybe even trying out a few samples (I know many of the shows around me have food vendors who offer samples, and even some of the bath & body vendors offer samples). This interaction is lost online. There's no sniffing, trying, or inspecting.

Samplers provide a way to sniff, try, and inspect before purchasing from an online Handmade business. And they are a great way to "meet" new Handmade businesses! The bath and body market, as well as the jewelry market, are quite flooded right now. What better way to bring attention to your products than by putting them in the hands of folks who love and appreciate Handmade and want to support Handmade businesses?!?

Samplers really are a great investment, for both the Handmade businesses and the buyers! We'll be discussing this more as time goes on, and tomorrow we'll be looking at the question, "So let me get this straight -- these businesses (samplers) SELL the products that the Handmade businesses send them for free???" (LOVE this question!)

Any questions you'd like addressed, please post them in the comments! Till we meet again....

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Welcome to Samplers and Such!

I hope you will enjoy learning about how to make the most of samples for your Handmade Business, whether you are contributing them to samplers (see the side menu for a list of samplers), submitting them to be included in "swag bags" for craft shows or other events, or using them in other ways to promote your business.

Happy 2011!!!