Remember when you were young and looked forward to getting a package in the mail? A White Bear Lake dad and his daughter are recreating that excitement by taking things a step further with their own gift box company—Elevated Boxes.
Alan Haskins sources local makers for items that turn a box in the mail into a delightful, purposefully curated gift. Haskins says he focuses on unique products that showcase the talent of small businesses and makers, including those around the Lake Minnetonka and White Bear Lake areas. “All of these makers appreciate every order at every size,” he says.
Haskins says the idea came from his wish to support local businesses around his hometown of Excelsior and White Bear Lake, where he and his family now live. “I decided to do both boxes at the same time,” he says. The White Bear Box ($75) features Annie B’s Caramels, Kowalski’s Original BBQ Sauce, Peaceful Aromatherapy Room and Linen Spray, Premiere Traditional Dark Balsamic Vinegar, ’Sota Crackers Candle, White Bear Lake-themed items and more.
The Tonka Box ($75) is a sampling of local, artisan products from around the Lake Minnetonka area and includes: apple cinnamon peanut butter, Boundary Waters Blueberry Kakookies, eden apples, oatmeal chocolate chip bites, Lake Minnetonka-themed items and more.
Haskins runs his business out of his garage with the help of his daughter, Eva. At 15, she does the assembly and sometimes recruits friends when the order list gets long. “I pay them, of course, and Eva’s saving her earnings for college,” he says. “She’s been doing this since the beginning.”
That desire to see small businesses thrive was cemented during the pandemic, especially as local creators lost business when they relied on farmers markets as a core of their business. Haskins had a plan. The Uff Da! Box ($75) was the first to be created. He says he loved Pa’s Barbeque Sauce, but the pandemic meant the maker would have to destroy the extra product he produced for sale at summer 2020 farmers markets. As a result, the sauce became part of The Uff Da! Box, which includes plenty of Uff Da!-themed goodies. Since then, hundreds of that box have been sold. Along came the Love Minnesota Box ($75), which has sold thousands all over the country and includes favorites from around the state, including natural products for the home and delectable treats that taste like homemade.
Haskins’ fifth and the newest of his planned 20 boxes is the Slope Box ($60) Think snowboards and downhill skis for this one. “I’m a bootstrapper. I’ve pared this down to about 18 items after polling groups of passionate snow people to learn what may be most helpful in a box dedicated to their favorite hobby,” Haskins says. The Slope Box includes anti-fogging spray for goggles, cellphone holder, hand warmers, lip balm, neck gaiter, ski and snowboard locks and lots of snacks for before, during and after time on the snow.