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By Tim O’Dell, Chili Dawg’s Foods of Fire

As an early reminder, the holiday season is fast approaching and the stress of gift giving will be part of that season.

Generous consumers, which may include businesses, will again stress over for whom to give, what to give and how to give as they ponder the long list of loved ones, friends, associates, clients and customers. Budgets also come into play as consumers plan their strategy for giving.

I have always said that the gourmet consumer has beaten the stress by buying gifts that are unique or unusual and have great value both for the recipient and the giver.

Instead of the old standards, ties, socks, sweaters, plain boxes of candy or popcorn, gift certificates, etc. the gourmet consumer shops for items their recipients will not typically buy for themselves. They buy gift boxes or gift baskets full of unique spicy foods, which are on the rise in popularity, cheeses, meats, crackers, new wines, chocolates and other unique items. The value is giving things not typically purchased by the recipient and giving the recipient, something they can share with loved ones and friends thereby providing a natural extension of the gift.

These gourmet consumers however, don’t just choose any basket or box to give to their recipients. They are very picky about what they give. They give something they like. Something they have tried and like. But to put together a basket on their own creates stress. Assembling the baskets or boxes can be a hassle to the discriminating consumer and very time consuming.

Big box stores are no help in that they don’t assemble baskets or boxes for you. Many local grocery stores as well do not have the manpower available to assemble baskets or boxes for you. Even if they did, you would have to wander around the entire store to select your ingredients and then gather them to be assembled into a cohesive gift. Not an optimum situation for reducing stress of the season.

The gourmet consumer has found the perfect place to shop for quality and quick baskets and boxes.

Specialty food stores are perfect as they often have hundreds of items available to select and in relatively proximity to each other. If products you want are not readily available, specialty food stores are nimble and act quickly to secure the products you want in time for the season. This is one main reason for the rise in popularity of specialty stores. They cater to the needs of their consumers.

Specialty food stores have the staff available to help with selections of not only products but basket styles and a myriad of boxes from which to choose.

Shopping at specialty food stores is also fun. Why give something you have never tried? Unlike big box stores or many local grocery stores, many specialty stores will let you sample whatever product you are interested in giving or sending to your recipient.

So . . . reduce your stress level during the holidays and become a gourmet consumer for the greatest experience in giving that you will ever have! And the recipient of your thoughtful gift will never forget it!

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