4/11/12: Congratulations to Nancy, the winner of a "Found In _____" crate!
Remember back in October when I told you about stationary-focused curated subscription club Lost Crates? I thought Lost Crates was really cool then.
Lost Crates is way, way cooler now. They've completely revamped, and now they feature six different subscription box options. They still have their $38/month stationary offering, but they also have an eco box (also $38/month), a housewares box ($68/month), a foodie box ($48/month), a "Found in ________" box, which features products from a new city every month ($48/month), and "Jack's Picks," a box of monthly surprises selected by "design aficionado" Jack ($38/month). When Lost Crates asked me to choose one of their new offerings to review, it seriously took me days to make my selection. Every single box sounds fantastic!
Finally, I chose the housewares box, figuring I'd go with the box most likely to appeal to most of my readers. I was not disappointed. March's box theme was "Cocktails Anonymous," and the products selected by the Lost Crates team to highlight this theme were fantastic--both innovative and useful. They included:
Rocking Whiskey Glasses: The boxes biggest item was a full set of six 6 3/4 oz whiskey tumblers, made by the Swedish company Sagaform. These glasses are on a round base, so they "rock," but don't fall over. They're attractive, made of high quality glass, and innovative--I'd never seen the rocking design before.
Graffiti Cocktail Shaker: Everybody needs a cocktail shaker, but most people already have one. How does Lost Crates deal with that? They include this innovative shaker, made to look like a spray paint can. It's a Philadelphia University/Kikkerland Design collaboration project winner and though it's not exactly to my taste (little Andy Warhol for me), it's very cute. It's also a high-quality shaker that my resident drink master thinks looks leak-proof.
Whiskey Stones: I thought the addition of the whiskey stones, US-made of US-soapstone by Vermont company Teroforma, was the best part of the crate. I love the idea and appearance of whiskey stones, and I particularly love that Lost Crates chose "local" stones, and really attractive ones!
Double Jigger: The double jigger included in the crate, made by Harold Imports, was my least favorite item. I get the practical value of a jigger, but there was nothing exceptional or innovative about the particular jigger that was chosen. That said, not ever item has to be one-of-a-kind, and the jigger did round out the collection nicely (at least, it would for people who measure their liquor...)
There were several things I really loved about this crate. First, the products were largely new to me. We have a pretty extensive collection of both new and vintage barware at my house, and, with the exception of the jigger, nothing in this crate duplicates something we already have. That's awesome. It also introduced me to some new brands, specifically Sagaform--and they're good to know about, because they design really beautiful stuff (I've got my eye on this teapot now). Introducing me to products and companies of which I was not otherwise aware is one of the top reasons I love the curated subscription model.
I also liked that the products included in this crate were, by and large, useful. They're all things I can easily incorporate into my household, and none of them are so anachronistic that I have to wonder where they should go (or to whom I should gift them). Relatedly, the products are all high-quality--they are things that are expected to have long, useful lives, not cheap disposables. This is a qualm I have about some curated subscription programs, where the focus is more on "hey, you got a present!" and less on "hey, this is something you can really keep and use." Everything in this box was keep-and-use-able.
Though it's true that every product in my crate can be easily found on Amazon and elsewhere, I was also impressed by the focus on independent and non-US design. While the jigger is a pretty basic made-in-China model, the glasses, shaker, and stones are all examples of less run-of-the-mill design, coming from a Nordic company, a design contest winner, and a small US business, respectively. If Lost Crates continues to go out of its way to support these types of businesses, that will go a long way with me, and it already goes a long way that they did so with this box.
Curious about what the boxes I didn't choose might have contained, I poked around Lost Crates' website and found that, for those who hate surprises (fools!), they give a full accounting of what is in each box each month. So, for March, were the other boxes as great as mine? I'd say yes! The $48/month foodie box was another one I was tempted to get, and had I done so, I'd have been happy! The March selections were on a "Cup O' Joe" theme, and included a Chemex, a box of Chemex filters, and a pound of Intelligentsia Coffee! I'd have loved that, and again would have found the products both new and innovative (I've heard of Intelligentsia, but not tried it, and I don't have a Chemex) and useful!
The "Found In ______" box was the other one I'd have really loved to try, much as I'm a sucker for local products and for travel. For March, the box's featured city was Brooklyn, and it contained a set of coasters from Brooklyn Slate, a bottle of blueberry candy from Brooklyn Hard Candy, a Brooklyn Maptote wine tote bag, a Pepperpress "Greetings from Brooklyn" letterpress postcard, and a letterpress "Good Luck" card from Walk Up Press. Though these items are a bit lower on the "long-lasting and useful" scale than those in the other two crates I've mentioned, it's still a very well-curated collection, and one I'd have been happy to receive.
Lost Crates is not the same as other curated subscription companies I've featured. They are at a higher price point, and the products included in the crates reflect that price point. These aren't samples, they aren't seconds, and providing a discount isn't what Lost Crates does. Instead, they are selling small collections of carefully curated items, and they're selling them at a premium. Were you able to find the collection of items I received yourself, for example, you'd probably pay $8-$10 less for them than the $68/month charged for the housewares crate (at least, you would based on Amazon prices). However, you'd lose two important things--the expertise of their selection/curation, and the gift aspect of receiving a surprise in the mail.
Shelling out $68 (or even $48) a month for a gift for myself isn't currently in my budget, and I doubt it is in a lot of my readers' budgets, either. However, Lost Crates is still useful. For one thing, they offer a quarterly option for their crates, wherein you receive (and pay for) a crate every three months, instead of monthly. That's a bit more doable. I also think the gifting potential of their product/service is enormous--wouldn't a few months of housewares crates be a great housewarming present? A few foodie crates for a hard-to-please foodie on your list? I love the idea of "gifts that give repeatedly," and this strikes me as a bit classier than the beer-of-the-month club (though I wouldn't turn down a nice monthly microbrew delivery, either). While I (sadly) won't be signing myself up for monthly Lost Crates deliveries, I'm definitely going to keep them on my gifting list, and I'm seriously considering splurging on a quarterly subscription.
An even more budget friendly choice, of course, is to win a crate! Lost Crates has generously offered to give one away to a lucky WINOW reader. You can choose any of the six crates, with the exception of the original stationary crate, since I gave one of those away already in the fall. In order to help you choose which crate would be perfect for you, Lost Crates has developed a little quiz. Go take it, then come back and leave me a comment on this post saying which crate you'd like to win.(Psst, if you want to cheat, you can also look and see what is coming in each April crate, but I recommend waiting to be surprised!) For a second entry, head to your social media outlet of choice (Twitter, Facebook, or your own blog) and mention both this giveaway and Lost Crates (find them on Facebook here or on Twitter here), then come back and leave another comment telling me you did so. The contest will be open for one week, so hurry!
This is not a compensated review--Lost Crates provided the crate for me to review and is providing the crate for the winner. All opinions are my own.