• Pamela Brill

It's a Wrap!

Jackie Larencon poses with one of the company

Jackie Larencon poses with one of the company's creations

When it comes to selling gourmet gift baskets, Jackie's Baskets has its business all wrapped up. The Baldwin, NY-based merchant began eight years ago when husband-and-wife team Linley and Jacqueline Laurencon decided to turn gift basket-making for family and friends into a full-fledged operation. "My wife, who was a dental hygienist, discovered that thanking doctors with high-quality gifts could develop into something more," Linley tells Gifts & Decorative Accessories.

The duo began frequenting specialty food trade shows in New York and assembled a panel of family and friends to taste-test their selections of chocolates, pretzels and chips. The company then launched its business with a warehouse and gift-basket assembling facility in suburban Long Island.

"Our customer is someone who is looking for a unique way to thank someone or celebrate a special occasion," Laurencon says of his clientele which is largely comprised of 30–60-year-old women.

But female foodies aren't the only customers Jackie's Baskets caters to. "We began getting lots of requests for non-food baskets," says Laurencon. "So we decided to tap into a completely different niche market." The company creates themed baskets that pay tribute to favorite sports teams, featuring insignia products such as ceramic mugs, sports logo hats and towels. There are currently 15 baseball teams and 10 football teams from which to choose.

Taxi-themed gift bags
Taxi-themed gift bags

On top of its solid consumer customer base, Jackie's Baskets also maintains a diverse roster of corporate customers and A-list celebrities, including Teri Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives" and Donald Trump. Laurencon recalls when Trump placed a large order for his "Celebrity Apprentice" team. "He loved the baskets so much, Jackie and I were invited to a private party to thank us for a job well done," he says.

Such appreciation stems from stellar customer service, which Laurencon believes sets Jackie's Baskets apart from its competitors. "If a particular basket needs to be delivered to an apartment on a certain day, we will get on the phone with FedEx or UPS to make sure it's received for that special occasion," says Laurencon.

Understanding that the Internet is an integral part of the gift basket ordering process, Laurencon, who also doubles as the company's director of ecommerce, has taken special measures to enhance JackiesBaskets.com's capabilities. Customers can determine a delivery date in real time without having committed to an order placement. Separate shipping is also possible, enabling customers to order products going to different people within the same order. Returning clients are able to maintain an address book, which helps simplify future purchases.

Wine baskets by Jackie

Wine baskets by Jackie's Baskets  

In addition, the company recently implemented a review and ratings system. "It's unique in that the recipient can review the product as well as the consumer—something that's specific to the gift industry," says Laurencon.

With an eye on the future, he hopes Jackie's Baskets can expand its operation into a larger warehouse. He expects the company will open a storefront in Rockville Centre, NY, where their family resides. Regardless of what's to come, Laurencon says his and Jackie's experience has exceeded their wildest expectations. "Customers have told us that sending one of our baskets has helped open up the communication channels in their personal lives," he says. "That makes us love what we do."

Pamela BrillPamela Brill | Editor-at-Large, Gifts and Decorative Accessories

Pamela Brill, the proud mother of two young daughters, has been writing about parenting and children's products for over a decade. Before she began her freelance writing career, she served at the helm of two industry publications: Small World, which specialized in baby products, and Playthings, which is now part of Gifts & Decorative Accessories. She is currently an Editor-at-Large for Gifts & Decorative Accessories. Her previous blog postings can be viewed at www.talkingwalnut.com

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