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Moon shines with gift baskets

Beth Moon has spent years grinding the coffee, but never had her own coffee shop.

That’s what a friend jokingly told her when she was considering purchasing a business.

When Moon moved to Park City 17 years ago, she worked for Bob Sandt making gift baskets. Since, she’s done many other things including working at Wasatch Journal magazine where she is now. When Sandt decided to put more energy into a different facet of his business, he offered to let Moon buy the gift basket entity.

"The idea stuck," she said. "I was becoming an empty nester I thought, why not use the extra room for my own business?"

She added an "A" to the name and is now the owner of "A Special Request." She assures people who were fans of Sandt’s baskets that as his protégé, she will maintain the same quality and creativity. She has ideas on how to add her own touch, but said she’s not planning to reinvent the wheel anytime soon.

Making a gift basket isn’t all that different from creating a bouquet of flowers. Price range determines the size and contents. She starts with a nice container and fills it with "base items" like popcorn, chips or crackers. Then she adds cheeses, candies, nuts and chocolates as if they were roses or daisies being careful to balance sizes and colors, sweets with savory. Who the basket is for and what it’s for largely determine contents.

"It’s a lot about shapes, design and color. A lot of the stuff I’ve done over the years I utilize the skills to put a basket together," she said.

Her spare room is stocked floor to ceiling with gourmet cookies, drinks and candies that aren’t available in local stores. Like a fashionista dressing a model, she paces her shelves looking for just the right items to customize baskets and create a work of art that will taste great.

But more like a clothing ensemble than a bouquet, a gift basket can also be highly functional.

For skiers, she can make a breakfast basket with sun screen, lip balm and energy bars to help them get up and get on the lift. She also makes evening baskets with chips, salsa, cheese, sausage and crackers for tourists who get back to their room late and tired and want something to eat without going out.

An Italian-themed basket might have pasta and tomato sauce, breadsticks and cappuccino wrapped in a strainer instead of basket.

Something simple and inexpensive might include microwave popcorn, candy and tea for a relaxing evening watching a movie.

Moon says she can make a basket at any price range for any occasion: birthdays, anniversaries, "Thank You’s" and "I’m Sorry’s." Future projects include creating "Utah" and "Park City" baskets full of locally-made items to give visitors a taste of the community. A Deer Valley basket might include their famous chili and other gourmet items unique to the resort.

Now bit by the entrepreneurial bug, Moon is also promoting Autumn Teneyl clothing in Park City. On Wednesday and Thursday, Moon is organizing a "Trunk Show" at The Shop in Old Town where she’ll be showcasing her unique basket designs along with the new line of organic hemp/cotton clothing from Colorado.

At the trunk show she hopes to display the variety and creativity possible with gift baskets. She’ll be creating one full of doggy treats and care items. A gift basket can take the place of a Christmas stocking full of presents. Moon believes anything that can be given as a gift, from gardening items, to mechanic tools, to school supplies can be decoratively arranged into a gift basket for anyone for any occasion.

Jeanne Wood, an administrative assistant at Royal Street Corporation used Moon to create "Welcome" baskets for guests coming to town for a family gathering. As people arrived over a couple of days, the baskets were waiting for them in the rooms.

"They were absolutely outstanding," she said. "She tries to use a lot of organic and healthy snacks in her baskets. I think it’s a great presentation, they were put together beautifully."

Sandt said Moon is the perfect person to take the business into its 20th year.

He said he remembers her working hard in the evenings in a freezing cold garage putting baskets together, and likes that it’s now come full circle with her taking the business over.

"I thought it’d be perfect for her. She’s energetic, artistic, and good at marketing, the whole package to make the business successful and continue the relationships I’ve built for 19 years."

Sandt said it was important to him to find someone that would do well with the business and believes Moon is "ideal." He said he plans to continue working with her as he grows "Special Request" as a grocery shopping business.

"We’ll be working hand-in-hand over the years," he said.

A Special Request

(gift basket service)

Call Beth Moon at 640-3252 or email her at bethmoon@bethmoon.biz

http://www.specialrequest.net

See her baskets and more at a "Trunk Show Open House" at The Shop 1167 Woodside Ave.

Wed. Nov. 19, 7-9 p.m.

Thur. Nov. 20 10:30-noon

She invites any retailer with an idea for a gift basket to contact her about participating in the open house.


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