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On Subscription Box Services

Two months ago, Sawyer signed up to receive Bespoke Post.  Bespoke is a subscription service specifically geared toward men, and Sawyer decided to sign up to branch out and try things he wouldn’t ordinarily do.  This month – our first month in Philly – he received a Bespoke Post box called “Over Easy”, packed full with a skillet, organic whole wheat pancake mix, Bushwick Kitchen (Brooklyn NY) jalepeno-infused maple syrup, and The Real Dill (Denver CO) Bloody Mary mix.

Yesterday morning, we made pancakes for the first time, thanks to Bespoke Post.  Sawyer looks forward to these boxes, so much so that I wanted to try it for myself!  Bespoke is specifically tailored for men, and I’m not someone who would particularly enjoy receiving clothing that I didn’t choose for myself – therefore any women’s clothing subscription boxes are out (such as Stitch Fix or Fabletics – no offense meant to those who love these services!).  As an English major and confessed bibliophile, I went with a subscription box from Book of the Month.

My book will ship out to me on September 3rd, this Saturday (strange shipping date…).  Subscribers are able to choose from a handful of selected books one the first of each month.  I chose A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and I couldn’t be more excited to receive it.  The website gives you a detailed description of the book as well as the personal opinions of the judges for each months’ selections.  BOTM offers free shipping, and I didn’t feel like I went into this new experience without any knowledge of what I was getting myself into.  To top all of that, my first month (the value of up to a $40 book and shipping) only cost $5 with a coupon!  I figured there was no harm in trying something new and seeing how it turns out, similar to Sawyer’s experience with Bespoke Post.  While I don’t intend to use this again after this month when there are wonderful independent bookstores that I adore just down the road, I must admit that I am excited for the book I’ve chosen and am looking forward to early mornings with a cup of tea and my book at the table.

I must admit that I had never contemplated using subscription services before moving in with Sawyer.  Both of us considered using the Blue Apron service to help us save a bit of money at the grocery store and force us to prep meals rather than nuke them in a microwave, but with all the imminent move to Philadelphia on our horizon, we decided we’d wait until we moved here and reconsider the possibility then.  On that front, I have found a wonderful co-op one neighborhood over that I like to shop at, but a helping hand each week wouldn’t be too terrible.  We’ve also looked at the possibility of taking out a subscription from Turntable Kitchen – a little less dependent on ingredients sent (we can buy our own) and a little more fun during prep time – which we think that might be more up our alley!

My first question when Sawyer signed up for Bespoke Post was a simple one: how does a subscription box service fit in with a simple lifestyle?  There are a couple of answers to this question.  On the less-than-optimistic side, “it doesn’t”.  We’re allowing a box of foreign objects to enter our home without knowing what will be useful and what won’t be useful.  And no, we don’t necessarily need some of the objects we receive in the boxes – we could have bought pancake mix, drink mixers, and maple syrup at the co-op down the street (probably not the same brands, however), but the skillet has become invaluable.  There is also all that cardboard and packaging to keep everything in its place that we must consider (mailing a skillet alongside a glass jar of maple syrup as well as a container of bloody Mary mix is no easy feat).  We receive the box and then, just as quickly, send that box and its packaging to the recycling bin, which will then be transported to a sorting hub, classified, and then rehashed for another job somewhere else.  Our carbon footprint is expanding by using a subscription box service, that is guaranteed.

On the other hand, however, we’re receiving objects that are aiding in our growth as rounded human beings – yes, we probably would have attempted pancakes at one time or another without Bespoke Post, but we tried them immediately, and enjoyed the time we spent together doing it.  What’s great about subscription box services is that if you aren’t going to use something that was sent to you, there isn’t much guilt in giving it away (either to a friend who would get more use out of it, or to places such as Goodwill) – the value we receive is much greater than the money we funneled into it.  If you get two bum months, cancel your subscription – it isn’t the end-all be-all of mailing services.  Subscription box services are not something that we see ourselves using forever, either, we’ll get a couple months out of it before we call it quits.  It’s something new and exciting to try, and then we’ll refocus ourselves and enjoy the gifts we’ve received over the past couple of months in new ways.  And since I spent so much time speaking about the drawbacks of the cardboard that comes along with subscription services, I should point out that the boxes we’ve received are definitely enjoying a long shelf life: we’ve witnessed many days of happy kittens curling up in them for afternoon naps and using them as fortresses during playtime.  It’s almost as upsetting to us as it is to Gatsby and Penelope when it’s finally – after weeks, mind you – time to put them in the recycling bin.IMG_6702.jpg

When I first thought about subscription box services, there were a lot of negative traits about it.  However, after my experience with Sawyer’s Bespoke Post boxes, I must say I might be coming around to them.  We certainly won’t use them forever – a simple lifestyle doesn’t need the clutter that months upon months of boxes would create – but we are definitely reaping the benefits at the moment while enjoying new experiences and learning new things about ourselves and each other (new knowledge: Sawyer’s a wonderful breakfast chef)!

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