Last minute shoppers discover a lost art – and it is FREE! Our trademark gift wrapping wasn’t always what it is today.
Early on, we did not wrap at all. All of us had ten thumbs and anything we tried to wrap really needed to be re-wrapped later. We did try to wrap in order to help out other, mostly male shoppers on the 24th, but our efforts were just plain boo awful!
When we opened at Crabtree (one of the first super regional enclosed malls in NC) our customers demanded at least a box to help them execute a decent wrap. Customers happy; we’re off the hook; hey, retail life was good again.
As we grew, we bought more and more boxes; shirt boxes, hat / glove boxes, sweater boxes and parka boxes. In 1990, I looked at the bill of lading for all those boxes and realized that we had cut down about a zillion trees, paid lots of freight, added quite a bit to our expense load, and, most important, we still didn’t make our customers as happy as we wanted. They still had to use their time to wrap, and the guy with ten thumbs turned out just as bad a wrap job as before.
I had left Crabtree about midnight, brooding over gift wrapping. When I got home, I turned on a re-run of Gunsmoke to relax. As I settled in, Marshall Dillon swaggered into the dry goods emporium and picked out some calico for Miss Kitty. The clerk neatly folded the fabric, and then put it on a sheet of butcher paper and rolled the whole thing up.
“It’s a gift,” said Marshall, “Do you have a bit of pretty ribbon to put on the outside that Miss Kitty might wear in her hair?”
“Sure do, Marshall,” said the clerk.
With that, the shop keeper bound up the parcel with raffia and tied in a few strips of ribbon. Marshall Dillon held out the package at arm’s length, looked at it, grunted, smiled, and said “Now that’s pretty special.”
“Shore is, Marshall,” said Festus.
And it was, too. Next day I ordered rolls of brown paper, spools of colored raffia, and a bit of logo ribbon. Office staff thought me nuts as I wrapped Ragg Sweaters, flannel shirts, socks, Synchilla, Gore-tex jackets and camp stoves like so much chuck roast, or hamburger. Pretty special indeed!
Now, folks come in asking for our wrap all year, not just during the Holidays. Some customers bring us items from other stores for us to wrap, some liking the wrap that much, and others wanting to disguise a necktie, nightgown or pair of dancing pumps. And, we get constant comments from customers in shopping who say that there is a brown Provision Co. package under the tree with their name on it, and they know it is something good. We even helped a long term customer, who could climb 5.10, but had ten thumbs when it came to wrapping, put an engagement ring in a box of Cracker Jacks and wrap it in brown paper with raffia bow! That couple still comes into Great Outdoor Provision Co. every Holiday so they will always have a Provision Co. wrapped package under the tree.
Tom Valone, Founder