The mailbox – that tin collector of worthless coupons, bills and Victoria’s Secret catalogs — is now where you can find your monthly supply of gourmet bacon to accompany your morning eggs. You can also receive luxury shirts or wacky socks. If clothes aren’t your cup of tea, maybe a package of artisanal coffee will brighten your day. But it’ll cost you $$$.
This isn’t the Book of the Month Club or the once-common monthly delivery of CDs, which frustrated some subscribers with complicated return policies. It’s a new generation of month-by-month subscription that aims to attract time-strapped connoisseurs, who can opt in (or out) at any time and receive products they want (think fancy spices) or need (socks).
Monthly subscription boxes — filled with dog treats, razors and even feminine products — are arriving at front doors nationwide. Although the numbers are small, the offerings are varied and growing, as more businesses cater to the convenience culture.
The element of surprise also is a big appeal.
Birchbox, a popular subscription service, sends customers beauty samples each month, but subscribers don’t know what they’re going to receive until they open the package. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the United States, Birchbox has expanded to other countries and now offers a subscription service for male beauty products.
There are subscription boxes for just about every interest, ranging in price from less than $10 a month to more than $50. Here are a few:
1. Zingerman’s Bacon Club ($99 for three months)
Bacon ice cream. Bacon-covered chocolate. Bacon gum. Bacon is everywhere, and it can be in your mailbox, too. There are three- or six-month subscription options, featuring a different flavored bacon each month. Think Applewood, Kentucky dry-cured or Arkansas Peppered bacon. That’s hog heaven.
2. Foot Cardigan ($9)
Socks donned with gnomes, the face of the president or corgi dogs will give an edge to anyone looking to step up their sock game. Select a size (either men’s or women’s) and a new pair of wacky socks will arrive each month. If you hate them, the folks at Foot Cardigan encourage you to “make a sock monster” or give them away as white elephant gifts.
3. Hungry Globetrotter ($34.95)
This box delivers recipes, sauces and spices for foodies. Each month, the boxes are themed around various global cuisines. A “South Indian Sampler” box, for example, sent Globetrotter subscribers curry sauce, spices and tea mixes, along with recipes for Madras Curry, Garam Masala Rice with veggies and Yogurt Raita.
4. Manpacks (prices vary)
This subscription service offers essentials for the fellas. Need new underwear every three months? You got it. Need 23 new pairs of socks? You can get that, too. Customers curate their boxes with the items they need to stock up on every three months. Choices include undies, undershirts, razors and condoms.
5. Juniper ($28)
The ladies can have their essential box, too, except theirs will arrive every month, around the time Mother Nature pays a visit. Juniper prompts customers to input the date of their next period, then it sends a box with your choice of tampons and P.M.S. soothers such as Midol, tea, honey and, of course, chocolate.
6. Bark Box ($29)
This subscription brings boxes of squeaky toys, leashes, shampoo and gourmet treats (including cake mixes) for your pooch each month.
7. Kiwicrate ($19.95)
Kids these days. All they want to do is play Angry Birds on your iPad. A box like Kiwicrate aims at getting kids’ creative juices flowing with craft projects. The boxes are organized around a theme such as the “Dig Into Dinosaurs” box, which includes crafts to create clay fossils.
8. Craft Coffee ($24.99)
The artisan coffee market is booming, as more people ditch their corporate coffee cups and go for handcrafted brews. Craft Coffee delivers three 4-ounce bags of coffee from roasters around the world. You can even choose which grind of coffee you want, and if you like what you taste, you can order larger amounts.
9. Fourth & Grand (prices vary)
For men who don’t like to shop, Fourth & Grand eliminates the time-consuming task of finding a new dress shirt and tie for an upcoming formal event. After submitting a style quiz, subscribers receive a dress shirt, a matching tie and a polo shirt each month. You pay only for what you keep (about $60 per shirt, $25 per tie) and send back what you don’t want.
10. Quarterly.co (prices vary)
One of the more unique services, Quarterly.co lets you subscribe to individual tastemakers — writers, artists and investors who find products to send out every quarter. For example, an organic product blogger will curate a box of his or her favorite eco-friendly products for subscribers. Each box also comes with its own hashtag that subscribers can then use to talk about their new products via Twitter. Now that’s the way to deliver a community of subscribers.