Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Community Box (Hampton Roads) Fall 2014 Review + 25% Discount Code

My Community Box is a subscription service that sends a quarterly themed box that showcases products from small businesses in the Hampton Roads area.  For those who aren't familiar with the area (as I wasn't), Hampton Roads refers to a region in southeastern Virginia made up of Chesapeake, Newport News, Virginia Beach and Norfolk....cities all positioned around one of the world's largest natural harbors.  

For $30 per quarter, My Community Box sends a curated box of Hampton Roads products that may include food, bath & body, stationery and more. They provide cards with discounts and contact information for their purveyors. This is a new company and I believe it is their intention to increase the frequency of their boxes starting in 2015.

I signed up for this box using a combined promotion for their Fall and Holiday boxes which totaled $48...$18 for the Fall box and $30 for the Holiday box.  Putting it generously, I was quite underwhelmed with what I received.  Apparently My Community Box had announced a month in advance that the Fall box would be comprised solely of food items. That would be o.k. but there was so little in this box that I actually wonder if they forgot to include something?  To rub salt into the wound, I read a few blog posts where review boxes (sent for free) actually contained MORE than the paying customers received. That is a huge transgression (not to mention just plain bad business) in the subscription box world.

But...judge for yourself.  Here's what I received.  The Fall My Community Box arrived in a USPS Priority Mail box. Inside was a branded cardboard box tied with pink raffia ribbon.

The contents were packaged nicely in sparkly tissue.  Instead of a friendly "Welcome" sticker of some sort, the tissue was sealed with a disconcerting "Warning: May Contain Nuts" sticker.  I understand the reason for this but is that really a great first impression?

A lot of red crinkle shreds were needed to conceal the skimpy contents of this box...attractive presentation but instant disappointment once all the packing materials were removed.

As you can see in the group photo, there is a lot of paper and very little tangible content.

There is a business card from Kandy's Cakes & Pastries which provided one of the items in the box. A second business card from My Community Box announces a 25% discount code for their Holiday box which I will share below. A card shows pictures of all the products and gives contact information for the purveyors.  Another card provides a 15% discount to be used in the Etsy shop of another purveyor.  (If you're interested, you can use code MCB2014 at, which seems to sell mostly peanut gift products.)

From Kandy's Cakes & Pastries, a bag of strawberry chips is included.  I don't believe these are freeze dried since they feel soft and pliable.  I love strawberries but have never eaten them in this form.  These are somewhat unattractive in appearance and I think will work best mixed with some other nut/fruit snack.  It would have been nice to get something more representative of this business, like a cookie or a pastry.

Next is a bag of Gourmet Salted Virginia Peanuts.  These are exceptionally large and flavorful peanuts, not particularly exciting but they are good.

There are four, yes just FOUR, pumpkin vanilla bean caramels.  It was really a chore to get the paper off these caramels but the effort was worthwhile. Pumpkin seeds seem like a very strange thing to put in caramels, but somehow it works. I liked these! Just wish they had provided a lot more.

Then there are three honey sticks.  Since I pretty much just use honey for baking, I may gift these. The form is interesting but not sure how practical they are.

Finally (already?) there are two very small biscotti from Rainy Days Kitchen.  I received Spicy Ginger Snap and Chocolate Espresso....again, way too little product for the price paid.

Since all of these items were sourced at local farmer's markets, I can't really provide a value for this box. My best guess is that these products are worth no more than $10 or $12 total and that's being generous. I would be EXTREMELY unhappy if I'd paid $30; I'm not happy with the $18 that I did pay. The quality is absolutely there; the value definitely is not.

What can I say?  I like the local sourcing concept that several subscription box companies are exploring.  It's a great way to do a little armchair traveling and get to experience products we wouldn't otherwise be able to try.  But the value must be there to keep the subscribers happy and subscribing.

I am well aware of the challenges faced by any start-up company and as someone who supports and promotes small businesses, I want to see them succeed. However, My Community Box must up their game or they will not be around for long.

Having said all that and with the sincere hope that they can get it together in time for the Holiday Box, if you'd like to try My Community Box, use code 757ForLife for a 25% discount. October box subscribers can also use code 757Oct2Dec for a 25% discount on the December Holiday Box.

So come on MCB...step up to the plate, send us a great box and I will be the first to sing your praises!


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