Curated subscription review: Barkbox

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Yay, a new variety of curated subscription club! For $25/month (S&H included), Barkbox sends "four or more" products for your dog. When you set up your account, you select a dog size, so the products are at least somewhat tailored to your specific needs. A percentage of the proceeds from each box goes to support dog-related charities. Good deal, right?

I got my first Barkbox in April. The company sent me a complimentary box to review, so I cannot speak to ordering and shipping speeds on this one.

The box I received was a regular cardboard shipping box, branded with the Barkbox logo. When I opened it, it looked like this:

barkbox 1.jpg

Inside I found:

barkbox 2.jpg

From top left:
-Carob Chip Little Eatz, 3 oz package (estimated value $3.99): I'm always game for new pet treats, but these ones, unfortunately, are wheat based. We don't feed any of our animals wheat.
-Barkbox promotional t-shirt, size medium: I honestly think Barkbox did themselves a disservice by including promotional items for their company in the box. People do not want to pay to promote you. This item didn't add value, and it rubbed me the wrong way.
-Barkworthies 5" Bull Ring (estimated value $5.95): Again, a reasonable addition to the box, and I liked that they included the bigger version of this product, as I have a big dog, but these are not something we use for our dog.
-K-10+ Calcium Supplement and Vitamin Supplement, 1 of each (estimated value $34.99 for 14, or $2.50 each): I thought these were an interesting addition, because they're a product I wasn't aware of, and I can see the utility of (it's not easy to get a dog to take a vitamin). However, only including one packet of each doesn't really make them useful to trial, so I'm mixed on how I feel about this inclusion.
-Eco Dog Planet Doggy Waste Bags, 20 ct (estimated value $9.99 for 60, or $3.33): These are biodegradable bags made of tapioca, which I thought was kind of interesting, but other than that I am non-plussed. It seems like every pet-related anything you get includes poop pick-up bags, and we tend towards using bags from Target or the supermarket, which are a little...sturdier.
-Freezy Pups Kit (estimated value $19.99): This kit was the box's "big item," and it was definitely the one I thought was the coolest. It's a little dog-bone shaped ice cube tray, which comes with four packets of mixes to make dog Popsicle treats (each one will make a tray of treats). The mixes are made of real food, too! The Juicy Apple mix is just dehydrated apples, the Sweet Potato N' Maple just sweet potatoes and maple syrup, the Chicken Soup just chicken broth, carrot, and a bit of salt, and the White Cheddar Cheese just cheddar, whey, milk, and a bit of salt. AND they're all organic. I think this item is really, really cool.

Total estimated value of box: $38.26

All told, my feelings about my first Barkbox are mixed. With the exception of the Freezy Pups Kit, there was nothing in it that excited me, and it's not likely we'll use any of the other products. However, the treats, bully ring, and waste bags are legitimate inclusions, just not things we happen to use, so I can't really fault the company for that. The t-shirt, as I mentioned, was, to my view, a misstep in marketing. I liked the inclusion of the vitamin packets, but they suffer from the too-small-to-be-useful-sample issue (which is a bit inevitable with something that high value). I would have liked to see a toy included, as the box seemed to rely a little heavily on treats, with three treat items. Overall, I think Barkbox would make a great gift for a new dog owner who is not up-to-date on the items available for dogs, but I'm not sure it would be worth the cost of subscription for a seasoned pet owner.

For the sake of being complete, I took at look around at other Barkbox review to see if other people's received items were more or less useful. The heavily reliance on treat items seems to be standard--the January box reviewed at PuppyDust included two bully sticks, a bag of treats, and a food additive, and the other April box reviews I found included the same or similar items as mine. Barkbox should probably be aware that treats are going to be a difficult thing to lean on so heavily, since dog owners are increasingly picky about what they give their pups.

Would you like to try Barkbox? Use the coupon code NOONEWATCHING for $5 off your first box! And do come and let me know what you get!

Barkbox provided the box I reviewed. This review is not otherwise compensated and all thoughts are my own.

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May 2012

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