With Christmas fast approaching, people are starting to think about buying gifts for friends, family, and more. One of the refrains we’ve been hearing most often lately is that people need to shop local as much as possible this holiday season to support local retail.
A new Galway startup is making it easy for people to get a gift hamper that is perfectly suited for their needs, whether buying for a friend they can’t visit in person, or sending a seasonal thank you to staff after a hard year, and is also helping to support business in Galway.
Launching this week gift-hampers.ie will make an excellent one stop shop for people who are looking for the perfect hampers for the holiday season, and for a whole plethora of occasions beyond.
While it’s launching just in time for the holiday season, there are gift hampers available for every occasion, whether it’s a traditional food and drink ensemble, a lifeline of childcare products thrown for people who have just had a baby, or specialist choices like a Cuban cigar with a bottle of Jack Daniels for some quality indulgence.
Over 50 different hampers for Christmas and beyond are planned for the online catalogue, with options starting from less than €20.
Founded by local Galway entrepreneurs John Shields and Jason Gallagher, gift-hampers.ie was born out of the circumstances impised by the COVID-19 lockdown, and how people and companies responded.
They already had another business, whatsfordinner.ie, providing an online ordering service for dozens of restaurants around Galway to offer people locally owned and operated alternatives to giants like JustEat or UberEats.
While this was going strong, around May they were approached by a number of medical and tech companies in Galway who wanted to send appreciation baskets to their scores of employees now working from home.
Many of these would be for hundreds of gift hampers, with orders coming on almost a weekly basis, which had to be delivered all over the county to homes in Westport, Cork, and more, and even as far afield as France.
“We were doing that in the background without anybody really knowing about it. It just came in through our contacts,” John Shields explains, adding that this experience over the summer has gotten them used to operating at a large scale before launching their online store.
Research into the market showed them that there is a strong appetite for “bespoke” gift hampers that go beyond the traditional food and drink offerings, and that while you can find companies that provide a hamper for a specific occasion, the one-stop-shop choice was missing.
“You can go online and you can find a company that specialises in gifts for newborn babies, or you can go to a different company and find hampers for the beauty industry. But if you’re looking for one company that does all that, I felt that option was kind of lacking.”
As much as possible, John and Jason have worked with local suppliers to fulfil orders, working with retail outlets here in Galway to source their food, drink and more.
They are also constantly on the lookout for artisanal suppliers, something that are always in abundance on the west coast, to help create unique hampers that support small local businesses, and help them find a new niche for their products.
John explains that it’s their policy to “reach out to businesses around Galway to find comparable local products to things that we know sell well in the hamper industry.”
“These small artisans and local companies, they will have a loyal local following. But we would hope to be able to help them in terms of bringing their products across the country.”
For deliveries within Galway gift-hampers.ie uses their team of local drivers, already well accustomed to delivering within Galway, as well as
Despite launching a new business that is part of the massive spike in online shopping that has occurred this year, John is still encouraging people to get out on the high street and support local stores as the lockdown is lifting this month.
“I’ve got many friends and acquaintances that own and operate local stores that are closed right now. And I hope the Galway public get behind them and do as much shopping on the High Street as they can.”
Though there are set hampers advertised on the website, people shouldn’t feel bound by what is simply listed there online.
John emphasises that anyone who wants to put together a special gift hamper of their own should simply contact them through the chat on their website if they want to ask “hey look, can you put this together for me? Can you source that?”, and they will put something together in a matter of days.
Though this is launching in time to catch the Christmas shopping period, and while John certainly hopes this will give them a strong launch, this is by no means meant to be a seasonal operation.
“We’re looking ahead, this is a year long business,” John states, “There’s a demand for quality products online, sourced locally where possible, throughout the course of the year.”