WATERFORD — Perusing the farmers' market doesn’t have to be a fair-weather activity anymore, thanks to a subscription box business that focuses on selling goods from local small businesses.
Roost Crate, a subscription box company that specializes in shipping local artisan goods such as spices, soaps, candles and coffee, was created in 2016 by Waterford resident Kelly Pugliano.
With the slogan “We’re your farmers market in a box,” what started as a small operation with around 15 subscribers has blossomed into a business with more than 100 subscribers from 45 states.
Pugliano, who also runs the food and cooking blog Eat Picks, explained that the idea for Roost Crate stemmed from her love of farmers' markets and her desire to support small businesses in and around the area.
“We have such a treasure trove of local artisans in our area that people don’t know about," she said.
Roost Crate has a new themed box each month and allows month-to-month payments starting at $39.95. Subscribers can also get a six-month subscription for $219.
November’s “Harvest” box is still available, and December’s “Winter Wonderland” is right around the corner.
Unlike other subscription boxes that contain fresh fruits and vegetables, all of the items chosen for Roost Crate boxes are “shelf-stable” and non-perishable, Pugliano said. She collaborates with local companies, including Collar City Candle in Troy and RAD Soap Co., to curate the items included in the boxes. To her, the emphasis on local partnerships is what separates Roost Crate from other subscription services.
“We have a relationship with every artisan that goes in the box,” Pugliano said, noting that she also tests all of the products that she sells.
Pugliano’s goal with Roost Crate is to introduce nearby businesses to people and places that might not have had access to them without her subscription boxes. She noted that many of her customers once lived in the upstate area and have since moved, but they miss some of their favorite stores.
And though her subscription numbers have quadrupled since she started Roost Crate, Pugliano said owning and running a small business is still an enormous effort.
Finding the space to work — and the funds to keep the operation off the ground — is tough, she noted. She does all the labeling, packaging and shipping herself on her dining room table.
“I’m totally a bootstrap startup,” she said.
Long term, Pugliano said she would like to see Roost Crate become a gift-giving staple. Some of her customers, she said, choose to resubscribe to the program after receiving their first box as a gift.
Roost Crate does custom boxes and corporate orders, as well, and she plans to increase those types of orders, as well as starting a luxury gift line, in 2018.
She would also like to take Roost Crate on the road someday by traveling to different places in search of artisan goods to add to her boxes. Anything that will highlight and support small businesses is crucial to her, she said.
“If I can support them in any way, it’s really important,” she said.