For some of us, walking to the mailbox is the furthest we travel some days.
Amid the bills and junk mailers it's always well worth the trip when fun mail like subscription boxes arrive — those trendy regular packages that are hot right now.
For some local businesses, subscriptions and curated gift boxes have always been part of what they offer. Other businesses have added them as part of their pandemic pivots to continue to drive sales while brick-and-mortar stores are temporarily closed or slow.
The team at Pop-Cycle has been keeping a list of ideas to create safe and convenient shopping experiences and continue to support local makers on Slack. Last week they launched one of those ideas: Pop Box, a six-month subscription service, with different items from local artists and makers delivered each month.
"We're thinking about how we fulfill those with local artists so we can give a little infusion to the local community," says DeeDee Koenen one of the owners of Pop-Cycle. "I think the makers are really suffering. If you think about the access to loans and those things, they are small business but they often don’t get treated with that kind of consideration."
Within three days, Pop-Cycle sold out of subscriptions with more than 50 orders. Because of the popularity they will continue to offer the curated boxes as standalone items on their website for people who did not purchase a subscription before they sold out.
"We just kind of wanted to test the waters and we were pleasantly surprised by the reception," Koenen says.
Here are a few other local options to brighten up someone else's mail or treat yourself.
Monthly Subscription Boxes
If you're doing a lot more reading these days, and want the experience of discovering a new book hand-picked just for you, Mostly Books, 6208 E. Speedway, has you covered. This woman-owned book store offers a Book Lover's Surprise monthly subscription for both adult and youth titles where staff will pick a book for you based on your genre preferences and have it ready to pick up each month or ship it for a small fee. Many people gift subscriptions to friends and loved ones, says store manager Jody Hardy. During the pandemic Mostly Books introduced the Quarantine Book Lover's Surprise, where you pick a price point, genre and whether you prefer new or used books and a staff member will select a book that fits your criteria and have it ready for curbside pick up that same day, delivery within a three-mile radius of the store, or shipped to your home.
Cost: The monthly subscription is $120 if you pre-pay for six months, or $23 month-to-month for adult titles. For youth titles the monthly subscription is $60 for the six month pre-pay option or $13 for the month-to-month option. You name your price for the Quarantine Book Lover's Surprise.
Rad Dad Coffee
Missing hanging out at your favorite coffee shop? You can recreate the experience with home-brewed coffee from Rad Dad Coffee, which now offers a monthly coffee subscription. Choose your preferred grind, and whether you want one or two 12 oz. bags per month and every three weeks you'll be surprised with a different small-batch roast delivered to your home.
Cost: For coffee lovers in Tucson, Oro Valley and Marana, a subscription is $12.50 for one bag per month or $24 for two bags.
How to Purchase: Get your beans online on Rad Dad's website.
Hands down, one of the best things to unwrap is a steaming tamale. Two Tucson tamale titans will ship gourmet versions of these tasty Mexican dishes to your door.
El Charro's Tamale of the Month Club includes one or two dozen chef's choice tamales sent to you each month starting at $49.95, vegan and non-vegan options are available. Go here for details and to order.
Girls Can! Crate
This Tucson-based company founded by three-women introduces girls to impressive women throughout history with activity books and hands-on projects. The next featured woman is Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso.
Cost: Prices vary depending on frequency and the type of box you purchase.
How to purchase: Find all of the options on the Girls Can! Crate website.
Tucson Botanical Collective
These themed boxes are filled with items from local makers who incorporate the desert's flora into their work. Each box has a different theme and includes items like bath bombs, journals, salts, shrubs and prints.
Cost: Subscriptions are $90 per box for three months or you can buy an individual box for $100.
How to purchase: Visit the Tucson Botanical Collective website.
Humanity Hub Network
This new startup plans to offer two monthly subscription boxes that will support and feature local businesses. The monthly food box will be filled with fresh produce from local farmers and frozen, fresh and shelf-stable items from local restaurants and the loot box subscription will have items like art, soaps, t-shirts and other fun items from makers and artists.
Co-founders, Sara Patterson and Jesse Wayne are working with Local First Arizona and Blax Friday to identify contributors to the boxes and are planning to have an unveiling on their social media accounts on July 31 to share more about the initiative and announce some of the featured contributors. The pair hope to begin sending out subscription boxes later in the fall and you can get on their email list to be notified when subscriptions are live here.
Other gift boxes
While these aren't available as subscriptions, these curated boxes make a perfect one-time gift or you can DIY a subscription and have something sent to someone (or yourself) each month.
• Childrens toy and book store Mildred and Dildred, has a collection of more than 20 "Summertime Survival Kits" which include an assortment of toys and games for different ages organized thematically. The kits range from $30-$40 and themes include sun science, bird watching, art and botany. There's even an "Grown Ups Also Get Bored" kit with puzzle games and a wooden solitaire game.
• Pinkies up! You can brew your own flavored teas at home with Tea Samplers from Scented Leaf. For $30 you can choose a fruity, minty, earthy or classic themed sampler box which each come with five different loose leaf teas, a 50-pack of natural tea filters, honey sticks and other sweeteners. For the serious tea drinker try "The Tea Party" with 20 bags of loose leaf teas, mugs, an infuser and other goodies. You can also cool off with a cold brew sampler box for $15 which has three different flavors.
• You can build your own gift box or have one curated by the team at Creative Kind for any occasion. The curated boxes are themed for teacher or healthcare worker appreciation, birthdays, celebrating a major life milestone and for people who are just missing the Sonoran Desert. Curated gift boxes start at $65. The build-your-own option depends on what items you select.
• Eastland Alley Co. sells boxes with a travel candle, regular candle and room spray in the boutique's signature fragrances to match any theme for $45. There are boxes to celebrate a new home or baby and for those who need a little pick-me-up.