If you are a writer, or simply a stationery fan of any kind, you likely enjoy pens, paper, notebooks, calendars, and other such items you find online or in the stationery aisle of any store you visit that has one. A somewhat newer service available to pen and paper aficionados are what are called “subscription boxes.”
For a monthly fee that typically decreases the longer one takes out the subscription, small companies will send you a “surprise” box of stationery and paper crafting items, usually revolving around a theme. Busy Bee Stationery.com was kind to send Creative Writing its April, 2016 subscription box for review. What came inside this “mystery” box?
Part of the fun, of course, is the “surprise” nature of the boxes. These cottage industries typically search for products made by other companies (some do create or design their own) and group them together by theme. The April, 2016 theme for Busy Bee Stationery, for example, was travel.
The box was plain white, with only the Busy Bee logo in the shipping label to identify it. The items rattled about inside without any tissue paper to cushion them; however, none of the items were made of material that would be easily breakable.
Inside the box were eight stationery-related items plus a Busy Bee logo sticker and a welcome card from the company that listed its social media outlets as well as some of the other companies’ products featured throughout the service. Several of the eight items in this box contained multiple uses, or smaller items inside.
Starting from smallest to largest, the items in the box were:
- 1 magnesium pencil sharpener containing 2 sizes. (KUM, made in Germany)
- 1, 1″-square stamp pad of Distress Ink in Mermaid Lagoon blue (Tim Holtz)
- 1 pack of 3 metal travel charms in a bronze-like color (suitcase, plane, and journey rectangle) (7 Gypsies)
- 1 pad of 36 “Life” (journaling) cards in vintage designs (3 repetitions of 12 designs) (Authentique Paper)
- 1 saying, month, date, and year stamper [sayings are: “Best.Day.Ever.;” a banner of hearts; “celebrating;” zig-zag line; “a day in the life;” solid arrow; “Big Day;” hearts and dots; “lovely day;” “On This Date:;” “photographed on;” and blank.] (Dear Lizzy)
- 1 package of 4 sheets of “chips” stickers (decorative chipboard cut-outs with adhesive on the back, some with glitter) with a travel theme (Me And My Big Ideas; MAMBI)
- 1 package of 5 No. 2 thick pencils (Write Notepads)
- 1 orange vinyl “The Busy Traveler” wire-ring, wide-ruled 4.5 x 6″ notebook; with the Busy Bee logo on the front + matching .7 mm black pen in the elastic holder on the cover. The notebook contains 4 removable dividers with tabs (each a different color and unusual to find in a notebook of this type); with 80 sheets of paper. (Busy Bee & Jetstream)
This particular collection of goodies represents some of the better-known companies with quality products in stationery and paper crafting (Tim Holtz and MAMBI, e.g.). Most folks who enjoy these kinds of products will no doubt like a collection like this one. The question, of course, for most potential subscribers then, is what is the cost?
According to the Busy Bee Stationery website, a subscription box costs $39.90 per month that includes shipping within the U.S.. International shipping is available. A pre-paid three-month subscription costs $109.70 for a $10. savings. A six-month pre-paid subscription costs $214.40 for a $25. savings off the monthly box price.
Is it worth it? It sounds like a rather high price (about $10./week). Without looking up the retail price of each of the eight items included (or similar items in the case of the custom-designed ones), eyeballing it suggests that the items may not come to $40. total at retail, though their total cost will likely be higher than many customers think (regular stationery and paper crafting purchasers know these things add up quickly).
It is possible the total may be higher than $40. at retail, depending on where you shop and whether you find any similar items on sale, etc. When you factor in that all of these items relate to a single theme, so the company has done the hunting and gathering already for the customer, and then add in the shipping and the “fun” factor of the “mystery” surprise, the price may sound a bit more reasonable.
The other benefit to a box like this is that it includes many items that can be used multiple times. The journal cards, for example, and the chipboard stickers, each contain several items in a pack. Products like the stamper, pencil sharpener, and notebook, will last through multiple uses. The charms may be moved from one use to another (such as moving one charm from the front of a traveler’s notebook to affix it on a travel bag).
Only the user knows whether a $39.90 purchase for an “unknown” theme of 5 to 10 items of stationery and paper crafting products is worth the service (the company website indicates that is the number to expect). Perhaps those who wonder could purchase one box at a time as desired and see what he or she thinks.
For writers, the Busy Bee Stationery box may make a good gift, though some writers are more interested in decorative stationery products than others. A box like this may also make a fun yet practical gift for teachers or others who might enjoy decorative paper crafting items in addition to stationery they can put to immediate use.