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Abilene Unboxed Aims to Help Local Businesses Struggling due to Pandemic

Ran by a mother son duo local high school student Chevy is taking an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship and help Abilene area businesses at the same time. Abilene Unboxed, a new company offering surprise boxes filled with quality products from local companies, will launch this week.

As an area business owner I know what its like to struggle so I contacted the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce office last week to discuss ideas that could benefit the area’s struggling small businesses.  Allison Blake, executive director for the Chamber said “We batted around some ideas, but nothing was really sticking.”

Then Doug Smart of Smart Insurance shared an idea he heard about from his daughter earlier this week. The concept, called Keep Edinburgh Thriving, creates gift boxes filled with quality local products in an effort to help their local businesses stay open. Similar to BarkBox or LootCrate, the boxes include 5-6 randomly selected items for a small box or 7-8 items for a large box.

The model was a good one for Abilene, but it came with several logistical questions. It would need startup capital, a distribution center, credit card processing, manpower to compile the different items from the various companies, then someone to box and ship the items, etc. An altruistic desire to help needed to be there as well, since products should be purchased mostly at retail price to really assist the local businesses.

When Allison casually mentioned the idea to me, I was three steps ahead of me. I already has a shipping and receiving center for one of our businesses, Kansas Hempire, and we have the space to store the items while they wait for shipping.

 “My son typically mows lawns to earn a little money in the spring and summer. We decided that wouldn’t be a good idea this year with everything going on. He knows he won’t make much with Abilene Unboxed since the idea is to raise revenue for local businesses, but it will be a great chance for him to learn about running a business,” Carolan said.

Carolan will provide the startup capital for Chevy to get things running. They’re interested in hearing from any business in the area who might like to have their products included. This could be anything from small retail items to gift certificates from restaurants. Once they have gathered a collection of products, they will offer the boxes for sale to the public via the web. Boxes will be delivered to local buyers or shipped through USPS.

“These surprise gift boxes will be a great way for people to send locally-sourced gifts to friends and loved ones, or just a fun and safe way for locals to drive sales for area businesses,” Blake said. “This is something that could continue even after the “stay-home” order is lifted to showcase all of the fantastic shopping and dining we have around Abilene.”

To have your products considered for Abilene Unboxed, call (785) 479-6243. A website will be up by the end of the week.

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