Local resident Allison Craig loves San Antonio so much she wanted to be able to package it and send it to people.
Craig, who has lived in San Antonio since 2012, is the founder of San Antonio in a Box or “SA in a Box”, a new gift box startup packaging a variety of items with roots in San Antonio for people to send to their friends and loved ones. As an advocate for small businesses in San Antonio, Craig is hoping her own 6-month-old venture can help local companies recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We thought, ‘It would be great to help these small businesses get exposure [beyond San Antonio], and let people experience more than they would [just coming to] the River Walk,’” Craig said.
The boxes can be customized with five, seven, or 10 different San Antonio-made items at $49, $59, $69, respectively. Customers can pick items from 25 different local businesses, such as Ricos, Tio Pelon’s, Casa Chocolates, Karma Candle Makers, Al’s Gourmet Nuts, and more. The wares are mostly food and beverage items, with Craig emphasizing she wants to give people a taste of San Antonio.
Craig also includes a customized printout detailing the history of each item and information about the city. Despite the pandemic, Craig said her business has seen growth every month this year.
“A lot of the theme boxes have really taken off, with a lot of people purchasing the Teacher Appreciation or the Mother’s Day boxes, and now the Father’s Day boxes,” Craig said.
As the city begins the process of rebounding from the months-long pandemic, it’s companies like SA in a Box that will be integral in helping restart tourism, said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio.
“San Antonio enjoys a wide diversity of innovative and creative businesses, some designed to help spread the message about our destination’s authenticity and assets,” Matej said. “We view that as part of the strong outreach that positions San Antonio as a target for potential travelers.”
Visit San Antonio recently sent packages to some of its top clients around the country and used the boxes to showcase items authentic and special to the city, she said.
“It’s an example of how we work alongside our member businesses in a common mission to spread the good word about our community,” Matej added.
Craig said she’s happy to help connect local businesses with new customers both in town and outside of San Antonio.
“We had a woman from Washington D.C. who got one of the boxes reach out to us by email and say she loved our candles,” said Mario Siller, owner and chandler of Karma Candle Makers. “She placed a nice order with us within 24 hours of receiving the box.”
San Antonio-based Karma Candle Makers was started by Roseann Sanchez in 2009. Each of the 20 scents sold by Karma Candle Makers is “locally inspired,” according to the business’ website. Some popular scents include citrus basil, coconut lime, and fiesta sangria.
Siller said he’s been pleased to see his business grow right alongside Craig’s. While Craig’s initial order only called for 50 candles, within a month, she was placing orders for 150 candles every two weeks, Siller said.
Siller said Karma Candle’s presence in SA in a Box gift sets has helped his company gain online recognition, and he attributed its growing social media following to their relationship. Before working with SA in a Box, 12 percent of Karma Candle’s annual sales came from online but during the past two months, that number has increased to about 60 percent. Siller attributes this both to Karma’s supportive regulars and to the business’ increased visibility through SA in a Box.
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Al’s Gourmet Nuts has been able to increase its amount of corporate gift sales thanks to SA in a Box, said founder and owner Margaret Anaglia.
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The 20-year-old business operates during the Pearl’s Farmers Market, and sells 15 different flavors of gourmet nuts from cinnamon pecans to hot and sweet peanuts.
Anaglia said she and her husband Albert were honored their company was considered San Antonio enough to be an SA in a Box addition.
Anaglia said she had been wary of participating in collaborations with other companies, but she had a different feeling about Craig and SA in a Box.
“We took a chance with SA in a Box, even though the business was new and that’s not something we normally would do,” Anaglia said. “Allison was genuine in how she expressed herself and in what she communicated. She wasn’t just looking for a discount, she was looking for the best of the best to work with.”