Subscription Box Insanity: New England Sack (Dec. ’14)

New England Sack

New England Sack

Hi Readers! Really excited to bring a review to you today of a new box! Called the New England Sack, they just launched with their inaugural box in November. While I missed that box, I was able to purchase the December box and that’s what I’ll be reviewing today. (See my reviews for other months here.)

I’m a Midwestern transplant to the Mid-Atlantic region, with a long-time fascination of New England. I love the culture and lore, not to mention the beautiful scenery one can find in the coasts and forests (both features of which are somewhat foreign to me having grown up surrounded by flat farmland). So it was a bit of a no-brainer to at least try a box that promised to bring small batch, artisan products from local, New England small business owners. (You know me…I’m a huge fan of supporting entrepreneurs!)

Can’t wait to see what my first box has in store for me!

 

THE DETAILS: The New England Sack box is listed on their website as “a monthly gift subscription service focused on providing high-quality regional products to our customers”. Their box promises to include “nearly a half dozen products from delicious gourmet treats to one-of-a-kind artisanal items. [Also] included in the box are unique personalized touches that will change with the theme and seasonally”. Currently the box only ships within the U.S. and is $35 a month (including shipping), with discounted prices for ordering 3 or 6 month subscriptions. It looks like you are able to return items that you don’t like within the box; if any one makes use of that policy let me know how it goes? For the December box, I had a discount code so actually only paid $23 for it.

Packaging View 1

Packaging View: Inside the Box

Item List with Wax Seal

Item List with Wax Seal

Packaging List: View 2

Packaging List: View 2

The packaging of the New England Sack (NES) I find to be very earthy and with a hand-made vibe. I love artisan elements like this. When I get items with these touches, I feel like I’m getting something that someone actually cared to put some effort and personality in to. NES did it well by including the stamped label on the outside of the box, the seasonal note on the lid, and this amazing, wax-sealed item list letter! It’s a nice touch and hearkens back to “olden times”. I also did skim the item list letter and there are some great blurbs that tell you the back story of these artisans and businesses, with very clear info on how you can visit their sites to learn more/make purchases.

First Look

First Look

Here’s the first look and I really wish you could get a whiff of the pungent, pine aroma also wafting from the box!

Goat Boy Soaps: Pineberry

Goat Boy Soaps: Pineberry

The first item I pull out is the source of that pine aroma. It is a full-size bar soap from Goatboy Soaps in a Pineberry scent, a small business in Connecticut. Though I love bath products and a pine scent, this is rather strong for both my husband and my tastes. That’s okay though, I’m sure I will be able to find a good home for it! And their site has some other intriguing scents like Blueberry Sage and Red Clover Tea. This retails for $4.99.

Bittersweet Herb Farm: Zesty Garlic Seasoning

Bittersweet Herb Farm: Zesty Garlic Seasoning

It turns out the soap wasn’t the only thing contributing to the aromas I was smelling. The next item is this Zesty Garlic Seasoning by Bittersweet Herb Farms out of Massachusetts. This smelled great and I really love cooking with pre-made seasoning blends; takes some of the guesswork out of things! Maybe I’ll do a review of something I cook using this item and feature it at a later date.  Also, the site features recipes! This packet has an approximate retail value of $3.

MandaleighHOME: Balsam Fir Sachets

MandaleighHOME: Balsam Fir Sachets

It looks like this is a box for olfactory-enthusiasts; these MandaleighHOME sachets also have a pleasant scent that are due to their balsam fir stuffing. As the tag proudly proclaims, they are “Maine Made” and it is suggested that you put these in your clothing drawers or other places you need a sensory refresher. This dear, little set retails for $9.

New England Sack

New England Sack

So if you were wondering about the “Sack”, wonder no more! Included in the box was this flour sack bag, hand-stamped with the company brand. It’s a good size and is very well made. I can only guess as to whether it is made of cotton, cotton blend, microfiber, or linen. (NES send me a note and let me know?) Either way, while I usually loathe getting another bag, I love the vintage aesthetic of this and can’t wait to collect more! A guess at the retail value of this is $4, dependent on the fabric.

Sweet Lydia's Marshmallows: Vanilla

Sweet Lydia’s Marshmallows: Vanilla

Marshmallows seem to be the sweet of the season, as I’ve gotten them in quite a few of my boxes. These Sweet Lydia Vanilla Marshmallows are obviously handmade, light, and fluffy. Sweet Lydia is a small business out of Massachusetts. I’m not normally a fan of s’mores or eating marshmallows by themselves but I wonder if I could make a small batch of rice treats with these. (Is that sacrilegious? But I like rice treats!) These retail for $6.25.

Wildtree Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

Wildtree Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

The last item is this organic Peppermint Hot Chocolate by Wildtree, a company out of Rhode Island. My husband is not a fan of peppermint hot chocolate but I await the launch of the mint mocha every year at Starbucks. With this, now I can use a local brand to make my own. It looks like Wildtree has all kinds of foodstuffs, including gluten free, so definitely check them out. This has a retail value of $7.

Well I don’t know how all of you feel, but I truly loved this box! I will use or gift with pride these items and am so glad to support, even from afar, so many small businesses. Too, it’s pretty exciting to think that I may actually be able to visit the farms or boutiques the items come from on future travels in New England. The total retail value for these items is around $34.24. That’s just slightly less than what I’d have paid for the box full price but well over the actual $23 I paid! And while there is technically no tangible value in the packaging, etc., I think it’s important to note if you are purchasing for the experience of your box, in addition to the items themselves.

I actually loved  my box so much that I purchased a six month subscription which, besides the quantity discount I got for subscribing for multiple months, I also was able to make use of an additional discount on top of that. So stay tuned for future boxes!

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