When Rich and Nancy Porter’s niece left Boston and went off to college last year, the couple wanted to send her a little piece of home.
They put together a care package full of iconic Boston-themed items, and “The Bean In a Box” was born. Inspired by an online company that sent Baltimore-themed care packages and fueled by their entrepreneurial spirit, the Porters developed an online business where people can send customized care packages full of products and trinkets that are uniquely Boston. The business’s mission is to “make someone wicked happy,” the couple said.
Customers have a variety of ways to pack these boxes with hometown pride. Users select the five-item or 10-item option for their package. Then, they are prompted to select items from the “Awesomeness Inside” tab, an extensive list of options to put in the box. The menu includes items ranging from Fenway stadium peanuts, to Dropkick Murphy bumper stickers, to Sam Adams coasters. This summer, the website offered a seasonal “Free Brady” T-shirt as a timely option for New England Patriots fans. Other seasonal items will rotate in, such as maple leaf pops for the fall. In addition, The Bean In a Box hopes to partner with a local chocolate shop as the weather gets cooler and the likelihood of chocolate melting decreases.
Rich Porter reports that some items get more website traffic than others. One option on the “Awesomeness Inside” list is a DVD comprised of classic Boston movie scenes, which apparently has not been hugely popular, Porter explained. On the other hand, a consistent crowd favorite is the iconic, bright red lobster hat.
“People absolutely love that thing,” Porter said.
Customers can add a personalized message to the package’s recipient before shipping their package. Porter recalls the first Bean In a Box order was from a girlfriend to her boyfriend, and included Cape Cod chips, peanuts, and several cards with romantic phrases only die-hard Bostonians can appreciate, such as, “You Make Me Feel Wicked Good.”
The Bean In a Box also provides warm memories of home to deployed members of the armed forces, Porter said. There is a standing 10 percent discount off box prices for family members of military personnel, as well as an ongoing monthly box giveaway for a deployed member of the service.
While many people send their boxes of Boston-themed swag to a loved one who has moved away from the area, Rich Porter said that “The Bean In a Box” has garnered a lot of attention from local businesses, who reportedly use the boxes at sales meetings or as welcome gifts to new employees from out of town. The Porters hope to expand their reach to Boston-area universities, as the boxes make for ideal care packages for college students.
“We would love for it to grow,” Porter said. “It’s kind of taken on a life of it’s own.”
While the Porters say neither of them come from a business background, learning the idiosyncrasies of managing a business has been fun for the couple. “We’re learning a ton,” Porter said. “We’re reading a ton—talking to folks and figuring it out. It’s a really interesting community.”
In addition to learning the business on the fly, Rich and Nancy juggle managing The Bean In a Box with working their day jobs and raising two young children. The couple hopes that their growing business can serve as an example for their children.
“It can definitely be a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun,” Porter said. “And we’re trying hard to set an example for our girls that if you believe in something, you work hard and do your best. It’s been such a blast.”
Featured Images Courtesy of Rich Porter