I don't have any more luxury goods to fill this box so are words OK?
October 18, 2018 9:15 PM   Subscribe

“People talk about subscriptions as if they’re all the same,” says Ipsy CEO Marcelo Camberos. “But in fact, subscription commerce is just a new way to engage with brands and get products. We’re all fundamentally different businesses.” Inside the $2.6 billion subscription box wars.
posted by Juso No Thankyou (63 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
The idea of receiving new things every month like this sort of terrifies me. I shop for food and household items regularly. Everything else, I buy as I need it. I encountered a monthly vinyl club a while back and realized I'd get a lot of shit I didn't want. A monthly sausage club would deliver way more sausage than I eat, even though I love sausage. NPR has a wine club, TCM has a wine club, everybody has a fucking wine club.

There's a socks of the month club. 12 pairs of socks a year for like $25/month or something. 36 pairs of socks over 3 years. 120 pairs of socks over a decade. Wear every pair only four times or accumulate ways to store them! There's more on their way!

How many services like this can one possibly subscribe to and maintain a living space?
posted by hippybear at 10:22 PM on October 18, 2018 [27 favorites]


Have to have sort of a soft spot for Birchbox. For MeFi's own reasons.
posted by rewil at 11:05 PM on October 18, 2018 [18 favorites]


I gave subscriptions for gifts last xmas—a year of Birchbox, 6 months of some $30/month beauty box, and a year of Ipsy. I won't be renewing any this year. The first 2 were for my mother and SIL, both of whom long ago identified what types of products they need and which brands they prefer. Afaik, nothing in the subscription boxes changed their shopping habits.

Ipsy was for my 20-something daughter. She liked it fine, but there's a limit to the amount of makeup one can use and I can't see contributing to her surplus.

It was an impulse purchase last year that had I given a minute of thought to, I wouldn't have done. I'm anti-random accumulation of stuff and those boxes were the very definition of random collections.
posted by she's not there at 11:32 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I remember The Sampler from ages ago, the first subscription box. She was VERY VERY PROTECTIVE of her idea and hated the possibility of anybody else doing a regular sample box.

I wonder how she feels about this now.
posted by divabat at 11:34 PM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


I‘d pay someone to take random stuff away from my house once a month.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:35 PM on October 18, 2018 [91 favorites]


My daughter subscribes to GeekFuel, and got an extra subscription for my husband. She's been doing those for a few years, but is not likely to renew them next time - GF has changed to quarterly instead of monthly, and while the boxes got substantially bigger and got more stuff in them, we've hit the "yeah, kinda got enough geeky t-shirts and figurines" stage. We also have a swarm of indie game keys for Steam, which fortunately don't take up any notable amount of space.

I can see that subscriptions really want to have something perishable/consumable, because otherwise, no matter how awesome the content is, a year or two gets you all the random-misc in that category that you have space for, regardless of whether you love it or have a use for it.

Potential next wave for subscription boxes: Baby/toddler toys that grow with your kid - enter age of kid at first subscription, and the toys, clothes, etc. gradually get older with your child. Infant boxes come with blankets and soft terrycloth toys; toddler boxes have more interactive toys and picture books; boxes for 6+ years come with a normal book + more complex toys, possibly involving batteries.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:06 AM on October 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


When I was stuck in my house over the summer, I subscribed to two recurring things, because I like mail and I needed a diversion. So now I get a box with a clutch in it every month and a box of surreal pop-culture art objects every month. I would say both have been satisfying in an ongoing way—I figure if I get tired of the clutches or don't like one, it might make a good gift for a friend, and meanwhile, they've been very useful for elegantly organizing things. As for the strange art objects, Brandon Bird is a national treasure, and I'm proud to own anything he makes. I subscribed because he made pins, but I'm staying because he's amazing. I also still get a box of Water Joe every month from Beverages Direct, as I have for nearly 10 years now. I also finally gave in and subscribed to one thing from Amazon, my favorite eye pencil.

I think a lot of subscription boxes peddle complete schlock—a lot of the boxes in the EDC and fandom spaces seem to be like that. I'm conversant in most fandoms, but I'm not an omnivore in terms of taste, so those really aren't for me. But if it's something from a personality or small shop I already know I like, whose taste and quality level I trust, that's a different thing entirely. A lot of things I buy these days are things I've found on Instagram; it started with pins, but I find a lot of other stuff there now, too.

Speaking of boxes from the ether...I just realized earlier that we're getting rather close to Quonsmas already. I don't care that much about Christmas, myself, but Quonsmas! I never thought I'd get excited about any holiday beyond Halloween at this point in the year, but here we are. That's just one of those MetaFilter things that makes me happy.
posted by limeonaire at 12:22 AM on October 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


Holy Cow ErisLordFreedom! With AI and a regular questionnaire that subscription could follow you all the way to one’s coffin.
posted by notyou at 12:25 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Who came up with this first, though? Opening bid is Book of the Month Club.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:33 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised no one is doing this for games. Or are they?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:26 AM on October 19, 2018


I'm surprised no one is doing this for games. Or are they?

Humble Bundle has a Humble Monthly (assuming you mean computer games).
posted by Dysk at 2:15 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


subscription commerce is just a new way to engage with brands and get products.

*urk* ugh, be right back, washing the taste of vomit out of my mouth
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:44 AM on October 19, 2018 [12 favorites]


I used to be a huuuuge fan of beauty boxes. I think I've tried about 5 different brands? My favorite was a premium one that guaranteed 5 full sized 'luxury brand' items a month, rather than a smattering of samples. It was pretty good! I got Gucci, Burberry, Tarte, TooFaced, Benefit - all super nice brands. I rationalised that spending £35/month on this box for 5 full sized products (often valued at close to £100) was more economical if I didn't buy any other beauty products.

But... it got to be just too much. I got an eyeshadow palette maybe every other month. That's... a lot of palettes. And in the past couple of years I've grown distasteful of mindless consumerism and I just started getting put off by the idea of getting random stuff that I didn't mindfully choose or identify a need for. I've decided I'd rather budget £50 a month for things I really really wanted and needed. And lo and behold, since I cancelled the subscription, that budget has been very easy to stay within (to be fair, this was partially because of how much I accumulated already).

And the quality did decline over time. I suspect most of the selections are overstock inventory.

We still have two subscriptions though.

One is for coffee, which I'm really pleased with. We can customise the grind and how often we receive them based on our consumption patterns and they have quite a variety of coffee so it's nice to try new blends.

The second is a "cat hamper", which I was able to adjust to be once every two months. It's a nice variety of treats and toys and sample food. I can't remember the last time I actually bought treats in the store, and the ones they send us are really high quality!

Potential next wave for subscription boxes: Baby/toddler toys that grow with your kid
This is totally a thing already. Amazon STEM club actually looks pretty cool.
posted by like_neon at 3:10 AM on October 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


Have to have sort of a soft spot for Birchbox. For MeFi's own reasons.

WOAH what! How cool!
posted by like_neon at 3:11 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I love the promise of subscription boxes but unless I find one that's absolutely perfect for me, it becomes a false economy since I end up with a bunch of stuff that I neither want nor need – and that's putting aside the wasteful packaging.

I'm very intrigued by other subscription services though. I'm not in the target market for Rent the Runway, but the recent NYTimes and New Yorker pieces make it clear that it's providing a valuable service to a lot of customers and possibly helping the environment by cutting down on unworn clothes.
posted by adrianhon at 3:30 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Parent magazine had a subscription toy thing when my kids were babies, they sent a couple age and development appropriate toys every three months for two years. It was outstanding. I still fondly remember Balls in a Bowl.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:00 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


So now I get a box with a clutch in it every month

limeonaire, you completely threw me with that one. I had this flash of someone with display shelves full of slightly greasy, but meticulously labelled, car parts.
posted by pipeski at 4:03 AM on October 19, 2018 [49 favorites]


I subscribed happily to Birchbox about 2 years until they changed their redemption points model. I was strictly a drugstore makeup purchaser and BB helped me find many new favorite products. Any sample I didn’t want I’d pass along to others. I bought the Book Riot Quarterly box until I realized there was no way to opt out of the YA genre.

When I was a kid in the 70s I remember Mom getting a monthly craft kit in the mail. It was mostly woodcraft and the glue came in what looked like ketchup packets.
posted by kimberussell at 4:05 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thanks. I’ve been looking at catbox options, and I can see the madness that lies on it, since my cats already have a hamper of rejected toys, but it calls so sweetly...
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:33 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


The only subscription box I'd be interested in is one that stands me one new identical white t-shirt every month. To replace the previous one that I've inevitably spilled something that stains forever down the front of.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:44 AM on October 19, 2018 [28 favorites]


I know I need regular wardrobe updates, including advice from a pro such as a savvy friend or a Nordstrom personal shopper, but I hate doing it. So I tried Stitch Fix. I cancelled it after a couple of boxes because communicating with the personal shopper online was just as torturous as in person, but with the added torture of being regularly reminded via email and postcard "it's almost time for a Fix!" like a dental appointment.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 4:59 AM on October 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


I am a big fan of Bokksu, which sends me Japanese snacks every month. Used to get Skoshbox, but Tokyo Otaku Mode took it over, and quality declined. Bokksu is better.
posted by wittgenstein at 5:31 AM on October 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


We get Barkbox, which is great and highly appreciated by our dog, and I can see why people like the beauty subscriptions. Household and clothing items seem a lot more about personal taste than dog toys, but maybe some of them really get the curation right.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:53 AM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've been subscribed to MeUndies for a while now, and it was a good way to slowly convert my wardrobe to very comfy underwear, because buying 14 pairs (or whatever) at once was just outside of my budget.

After a couple of years, I was able to discard my inferior undies completely, but after 3+ years, yeah, I probably need to skip a few months because there really is a limit to how much you need of even the "essentials."

We tried one of those snack box things, but outside of the initial trial promo, the price per unit was absurdly high. The novelty and convenience wasn't really worth it.
posted by explosion at 7:34 AM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I got a snack box for work for a while (Graze, I think), but when money got tight it was the first thing I quit and never felt like going back. I also worked out in the middle of an industrial area without a car, so having something delivered that was also snacking portions was a nice bonus.

Now I work in a different industrial-ish area, but instead I take a lunch break once a month to walk the mile to target and stock up.

The only non-food version of these I've ever considered had to do with yarn/patterns, and even that seemed like a lot.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:53 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


limeonaire, combining your love of pins and subscription boxes...
posted by abulafa at 8:22 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I really like the idea of subscription boxes!

I've tried Graze (too expensive for my budget at the time and honestly I'm not a big snacker), Feminist Sticker Club (fun, but after a while I didn't need more stickers), and Ipsy (also great, but eventually I didn't need more samples and was stocked up on a lot of the basics). I recently signed up for personalized digital book recommendations through book riot's TBR service. It just launched and I think there must have been a lot of subscribers, since I'm still waiting for my recommendations. I might try StitchFix for when I need to upgrade my work wardrobe, but again I know I'll just be subscribing to it for a few months and then end the subscription once I have what I need.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 8:24 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised no one is doing this for games. Or are they?

Board Game Bento, a.k.a. "That Thing That Has Already Been Cited As Actionable Cause For Divorce In The Etrigan Household So Don't Even Think About It"
posted by Etrigan at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


(I got excited about Board Game Bento but it looks like September was their last box.)
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:50 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Just a warning about StitchFix: most of their clothes are polyester and not super well put-together, especially for the price. But I ended up "buying" way more of it than I actually wanted, so as to not lose money (there's some psychological trickery in their model), and now, two years after I ended my subscription, there is exactly one (1) item I still own and wear. It's a cardigan.

I think the StitchFix house brand, 41 Hawthorne, rivals LuLaRoe in how much of it goes quickly to resale markets like eBay/thredUP/Goodwill. You can search to get a pretty good idea of what's on offer. And some of it is cute! But after a few washes, it will get thready and pilled and stretched in unflattering ways.

It is very, very, very appealing to have clothing selected for you and arrive at your home on a regular basis. I wish there were an affordable/reliable model for that, because StitchFix has a good concept.
posted by witchen at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm intrigued by subscription boxes because one thing I miss about being in a relationship is receiving gifts every once in a while; treats I don't pick out myself are fun! But I'm not a collector and am a minimalist so wouldn't want 90% of what arrives in any subscription box. Really, I need Amazon to decide what I want every month based on my past purchases. I'd even be okay with it sending something off my wishlist intermittently, even though that's not as fun as a surprise.
posted by metasarah at 9:46 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


My dad got me a cheese of the month club for awhile, which would send three interesting and high quality cheeses...but after a year or so I realized that I'm just not that adventurous when it comes to cheese and half or more of the products would go to waste. So I switched the rest of the subscription to chocolate of the month club. That was pretty darn cool, but when I realized how expensive it was per unit of good chocolate I just felt wasteful.
posted by skewed at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2018


I can't even make it through half of issues of The New Yorker, jesus.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2018 [21 favorites]


I remember having a lot of joy from ArtSnacks but stopped when I had to admit to myself that I like having a hoard of art supplies more than I like actual art.

I've heard good things about ShortBox but it's not a subscription box exactly, it's a quarterly boxed offering and one knows exactly what is going into it before one buys.
posted by foxfirefey at 10:03 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


(I got excited about Board Game Bento but it looks like September was their last box.)

Looks like Unbox Boardom is still a going concern.
posted by Etrigan at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2018


Field Notes lets you subscribe or buy the quarterly releases (limited edition, and they do sell out) singly. And they throw in a lot of extra stuff in the initial box. Unfortunately, my notebook consumption rate isn't quite that high, so I end up buying four of one release or something.

I think I would have no problem getting around any Zingerman's subscription, especially the "new discoveries" box. But makeup would pile up quickly, and yarn...god no.
posted by praemunire at 10:31 AM on October 19, 2018


I love subscription boxes. Right now I have Ipsy, Sephora Play, and Barkbox. Barkbox is the absolute best. Their curation and toy quality is fantastic, and each month has a theme they go ALL OUT for, with many many puns. Love it.

I like the smaller sizes of skincare and makeup - I actually have a chance to use it up before it dries out. I also really enjoy getting small surprises in the mail on the regular - that alone is worth $10/mo/box for me.

I tried Stitch Fix, and they really did not understand what I wanted at all. I kept a few pieces to avoid paying for nothing, but overall it was pretty bad. I also had a subscription to ZenBox, which was full of Japanese stationery items. I liked it a lot, but I thought it was a little expensive, and my washi tape and stickers accumulated way more quickly than I could use them. 3 months seemed about right for that sub.

I had no idea Birchbox was founded by a Mefite, that is awesome!
posted by Fig at 10:37 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think this is going to be the new bubble. People need food monthly and the meal prep boxes still have trouble turning a profit. Additionally, I've heard negative things about a couple of famous fashion subscription services trying to pull the gym membership move - essentially plugging their ears and yelling "I can't hear you!" about requests for cancellation. Their target market is also getting more environmentally conscious about the true cost of convenience.
posted by Selena777 at 10:43 AM on October 19, 2018


I receive the quarterly Field Notes pack and I love it even if I'll never use them all. It's kind of pathetic, I know, but it makes me hopeful...it's like a quarterly injection of potential.
posted by chavenet at 11:15 AM on October 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


I am torn by the thought of these subscription services: on one hand, the fact that it is a SURPRISE PRESENT gives me a feeling of squee, but on the other hand, having a tiny apartment, and a relative who was a hoarder, means I do NOT like to bring stuff into my house that I won't consume, use or keep, and even my existing overflowing-drawer-of-bath-product-samples gives me anxiety. (Junk mail doesn't even make it into my house, it goes straight into the recycling bin -- so do catalogs because they'll make me think I "need" something that I wasn't even aware of the existence of, two minutes beforehand.)

In some ways I think this industry has created a solution to "Uhhh, what should I give this person for their birthday/Christmas/other joyful occasion, I know they're a fan of ______". It outsources the burden of gift-choosing, wrapping and mailing but still feels like a cool present!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 11:40 AM on October 19, 2018


Okay having just received my book riot TBR recommendations this afternoon, I'll give it as a plug for anyone who likes to read. For $15 it's 3 personalized recommendations based on a quiz you take (and your goodreads profile, if you fill that out--this is especially nice because they can make sure you haven't read the book). Plus it's a digital letter, so you are getting recommendations without the "stuff" coming in the mail. Still scratches the subscription itch (for me), but let's me go to the library. FWIW you can pay more to get copies of the book sent to you.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 11:47 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I just cancelled my Ipsy subscription. It was fun getting surprises every month, but then I open my bathroom cupboard and see 10 makeup bags and... it just feels excessive to me. I have enough makeup now that it will go old before I can use it all. Also, the "shopping" part doesn't work in Canada, so even if I loved a product and wanted to buy more, too bad.

I would try another subscription box, but only if it was less wasteful and maybe made in Canada.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:50 AM on October 19, 2018


I got one of my kids OwlCrate, a young adult subscription box leaning toward the fantasy side of things, for Christmas a couple of years ago, and we were impressed with it. Two books every month, and all the extras were good quality and interesting.

I subscribed to iPenBox for awhile. We all enjoyed it but cancelled after a few months—we weren't going to get into fountain pens in a big way beyond experimenting with the pens and inks that came in the box, and the little notebooks etc piled up on us. But it was a lot of fun to get for a few months.
posted by Orlop at 12:14 PM on October 19, 2018


Okay, I will admit that I currently subscribe to three different beauty boxes: Sephora Play, Birchbox and Ipsy. They're $10 each and provide a nice helping of dopamine when I open a box three times a month. They keep me out of the store and from dropping a lot of money on larger sizes just to see if something works with my skin or overall coloring. The stuff that's obviously not right for me (i.e. bronzers, eyebrow anything, incorrectly tinted foundations, yet *another* mascara) go to girlfriends or a local charity that helps women prepare for job interviews.

I really love having the tiny sizes in my makeup bag. Also, I've been traveling a lot lately so having a mini hair treatment or mud mask has been a great way to make these trips a little less bad because I can have mini spa time in my hotel room.

I've also been introduced to a few products that I love, including a go-to detangler for my daughter's hair

I'm going to cut down to two boxes, so I did a statistical analysis on my three boxes, factoring in what I don't use, individual product ratings and the stuff I really did love. I use about half of my samples consistently, but seem to like the stuff from Sephora the best. I'm going to collect two more months of data and then make the change.
posted by Alison at 12:27 PM on October 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


I also love subscription boxes, but I don't have an income that supports them AND my streaming media habit, and I can't live without Netflix, so...

I loved ipsy, but after getting the same shade of pink for a year straight no matter how I changed my questionnaire, I cancelled. And Their bags went from interesting to slight variations on 4x5 zip-top rectangles and that was just meh.

What I really want is a subscription box that sends me 3-4 bags of the dark chocolate Kitkats from Japan every month. I'd cancel Hulu for that.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:31 PM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


i need a subscription that sends me a prearranged SMALL QUANTITY of one randomly selected kind of various preapproved snacks from a list every DAY and also simultaneously renders me unable to get any other kind of snacks in any quantities from anywhere for any reason.

maybe every other day
posted by poffin boffin at 2:00 PM on October 19, 2018 [13 favorites]


I have gotten my father a craft beer of the month club subscription for a few months as a gift, that was nice because he likes to try new beers.

My only subscription right now is Pipsticks, and I do pause it some months because I have enough stickers.
posted by chainsofreedom at 2:18 PM on October 19, 2018


I'm always intrigues by subscription boxes because I do love getting mail, but I mostly do not want or need more stuff so I try to resist subscribing.

I did ask for a subscription for 3 months to ArtSnacks for my birthday a few years ago and it was a very good experience. I discovered I disliked Yupo paper without having to buy any, and I found all the supplies to be high quality, except the colored markers, but I'm not a colored markers person anyway. And I put one of their stickers on my water bottle and it looks cool.

I'm happy to hear more about Stitch Fix. I was under the impression that the clothing was brand name but if most of it is kinda shoddy house name stuff, I can continue avoiding them.

No mention of the extensive unboxing culture on YouTube? If you're thinking of getting a box, you can probably find a few, if not many more than a few, people opening past months on YouTube to show you everything in there and letting you know if they think it's worth the money.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:23 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Now I'm wondering if organisations that support women/girls/LGBTQ people with things like makeup and interview/prom/event-appropriate attire would appreciate donations of sub box subscriptions.

Living in Australia means my options are limited and shipping costs make everything too expensive. I love the idea otherwise! A friend of mine does a spec fic book box out of Sydney so that's one option.
posted by divabat at 4:24 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah add me to the voices of people disappointed by Stitch Fix. They don't really do well with aesthetics beyond "typical lady post makeover".

(Though if there was a Goth-esque styling box that came in my size...)
posted by divabat at 4:26 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I do an earring of the month club through Etsy, and when I started it I was very surprised by how many people signed up for 3-month subscriptions right off the bat. I mean, also pleased! But part of me was like, none of y’all have bought jewelry from me before! you don’t know what you’re getting! why are you trusting me with like $75???

for the record, everyone does seem happy with their earrings so far and there are still slots open for November (theme: What The Sphinx Asked For) and December (theme: The Ghost is a Metaphor). but still!
posted by nonasuch at 4:45 PM on October 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


You definitely have to go into it with the mindset that you'll subscribe for a year, not forever. I subscribed to BirchBox for about 18 months and it was awesome. I hardly use makeup, so tiny sample sizes kept me in makeup for ages! And I got introduced to tons of hair and skincare items and found a couple that I really like and now buy.

Now I get Lip Service, which sends me a lip balm (and a couple of incidental goodies) every month for $6, and I ADORE it, I have very dry lips and go through lip balm like nobody's business. Again I've found some I really like that work really well for me and bought direct from the maker (and made sure to mention I found them through Lip Service). And when it's a flavor I don't like -- coffee, chocolate -- I offer it to a friend and people always like fancy lip balms!

My kids got Kiwi Crate for two years, and that is a GREAT box. I got my husband CycleBox for a year for one Fathers' Day, and he liked it, although a year was about right -- by the end he was like "that was fun but now I know some flavors I like and don't need to keep trying them." Right now he gets TryTreats, which sends a box of treats from a different country every month -- sweets, snacks, etc. He and my kids all go through it very intently and have a lot of fun with it.

I keep looking for another box I might like, but -- yeah -- the fundamental issue is the buildup of STUFF. It either has to be perfect for me, or it has to be consumable.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:12 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


The closest we come is Amazon's Subscribe-n-Save, which these days forces you to bundle all your subscribed items into a single monthly shipment. It so happens that the four products we subscribe to all come in pairs (eg, a pair of boxes of cereal), and something about that must have confused the Machine, because this month it sent us two identical boxes identically packed with all our paired subscribed items. We've been referring to it as Amazon Primer, but really it just felt like the drug dealer pushing a bit too hard with the free samples. We actually tried to return one of the boxes, or at least inquire into it, but of course they had no record anywhere of two sets being packaged or sent to us. Next month I'm expecting a Menger-sponge-like inception of paired packages within packages...
posted by chortly at 9:13 PM on October 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Fell down the rabbit hole of browsing through My Subscription Addiction though after reading this thread... I don't wear make-up, and I can accumulate plenty of junk on my own without help, but it's still very cool to read and see the various products available (and goggle at the retail value).

Led me to buying my first-ever "subscription" box.... (it's a one-time period product box from Teen Vogue... does that count?) I thought it was a lovely deal / great value on things that I've wanted to try for years but never could justify the cost. Definitely consumable products though!
posted by devrim at 10:24 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've tried, with varying lengths, a whole bunch of boxes over the years. Graze, NatureBox, (maybe a third "healthy" snack box I can't remember? I went headfirst into them like they were going out of style there for a minute), IndieBox. Hubby has done Loot Crate, Japan Crate, and Umai Crate. Boyfriend has done Manga Spice Cafe for a little while now.

I also got him one month of Mexicrate, which I randomly found on Amazon (apparently in addition to subscribe and save, they're doing, or at least facilitating the selling of, more traditional subscription boxes now). That one was pretty cheap, pretty small box, but very packed. Of everything above I'd probably recommend that one the most.

I guess they've all just kind of faded in interest after a while. The snacks from Graze etc were definitely piling up. I know the hubby still has at least one full Japan Crate and two mostly-full Umai Crates leftover. We have way too many little figures and crap from Loot Crate.

I'm kind-of-ashamed-but-not-quite to say that I subscribed to TryTreats after somebody mentioned it in this thread. I had never heard of it before and it seems a little different since it's not just focused on one country's candy. Looking at Bokksu, too, as the hubby and boyfriend will probably definitely both go for that.

I may probably have a problem.
posted by tubedogg at 11:15 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just got my favorite subscription box in the mail from the US Mint: 10 Quarters each year that come in a single laminated sheet for $8.95. You get one Philadelphia and one Denver copy of each Quarter. Right now it is the America The Beautiful set. When I got this year's set I realized that I have only seen one of them in the wild!
posted by soelo at 7:59 AM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I used to get Birchboxes for myself and my daughter and I didn't know until today that it was a MeFite who started it. I loved them...until they renewed both subscriptions without my permission. My credit card was going to expire and I could not find any way to "officially" cancel, so I figured I just wouldn't update the card. I received a box when I shouldn't have and realized that they got my new card info without my permission. I'm still unclear on it: Birchbox says they got it legally from Discover but Discover says they don't participate in that particular program.

Finding a customer service person to take care of it was really, really hard. Much harder than it should have been. The issue was resolved to my satisfaction once I finally got in touch with someone but I'll never resubscribe unless and until they revamp their policies regarding credit card renewals. I never even got an email asking me if I wanted to update my card.

So the whole experience has put me off subscription boxes altogether, which makes me sad because I do like them. There's one I heard about called Little Passports that I would love to get for my grand-nieces-and-nephews, but...once bitten, twice shy.
posted by cooker girl at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2018


OK, I wish I knew about MexiCrate's piñata option back in April, when I was looking for good piñata options online. I actually think I might have seen it and it was sold out or had too long of shipping time for what I needed then. I ultimately ended up buying a big eyeball piñata and filling it with candy and strange little toys, so it worked out OK (except that the eyeball was flat and thick, not spherical). I think I'm going to have to try MexiCrate, because one of my favorite things is getting new-to-me and interesting candy from abroad.

GlobeIn is also intriguing, because I like locally made, ethically sourced handmade art and practical items from places around the world. But I also like the serendipity of being deliberately given them or finding them at estate sales and thrift stores from people's travels or, you know, getting them at Quonsmas. If the site will ever load completely for me, I'll see...
posted by limeonaire at 10:24 AM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I should say, too, buying stuff by mail, via catalog, was one big thing my father liked. I think he liked seeing what was out there in the world, since he was legally blind and didn't travel a lot, so I grew up paging through catalogs of all sorts: Edmund Scientific, The Met, educational toy catalogs, L.L. Bean, the Whole Earth Catalog, etc. Some of these boxes or crates remind me of the stuff I used to consider wanting to get from Edmund Scientific, like "grab bag of prisms!"

Aw, now I want a grab bag of prisms. (This is why, when I got burglarized, there wasn't a lot of interest to the burglars. I like sparkly shiny sciencey or supernatural objects, most of which have next to no value to most people.)
posted by limeonaire at 10:34 AM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm still unclear on it: Birchbox says they got it legally from Discover but Discover says they don't participate in that particular program.

Methinks Discover doesn't actually know what Discover does. Discover's merchant site explicitly says that they (like the other three major card issuers) do have an "account updater" program for recurring charge merchants to receive new expiration dates, et cetera.

It occurs to me after I typed this that maybe Discover told you Birchbox doesn't participate in the account updater program. Which may also be true, as far as Discover knows - there are third-party services, like Wells Fargo's ProPay EnsureBill, that basically take a list of card numbers from the merchant, send them to the issuers, and get updated info back. It's unclear to me if the issuers would know what merchant(s) the request is coming from, beyond ProPay itself.

but I'll never resubscribe unless and until they revamp their policies regarding credit card renewals

I am emphatically not a blame-the-victim type of guy, and I absolutely understand the frustration in dealing with companies that make canceling a Byzantine labyrinth. But I don't understand the thought process behind just assuming that your credit card expiring would cancel your account with the merchant. The reason these updater services exist (beyond making the companies more money) is that it really is a negative customer experience to have to update expiration dates with everywhere your card info is stored, all your recurring transactions, so on and so forth. I don't think this is going away; if anything, it's going to become universal.
posted by tubedogg at 9:17 PM on October 20, 2018


I could never do anything like this - in my emotional miswiring subscriptions are just like bills except they also generate another actual bill.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:43 AM on October 21, 2018


You know, I was just about to comment wondering why tampon/pad subscriptions weren't a thing, and then I did a little googling and realized there's a couple dozen of them out there (though mostly by lesser known organic manufacturers). That actually seems like a practical thing to get on a monthly basis, and the prices on them don't look too bad ($10ish a month).
posted by dinty_moore at 8:56 AM on October 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


So now I get a box with a clutch in it every month

I was wondering why you would need a new clutch every month. Surely you couldn't be that bad at driving that you wear out one a month. Then I thought it was possibly part of a radio controlled project and got a bit excited thinking it might be something that I would want to do but when I clicked on the link it was just a small bag. The light went on and I went ohhh that type of clutch.

We had a wine subscription for a few months as a wedding present and it was very nice. It made sure to get esoteric wines from different countries and they were all quite good and also unavailable in the normal supermarket. There is also a craft beer subscription that a few people have at work, but if I want some craft beer I tend to make it myself.
posted by koolkat at 12:13 AM on October 23, 2018


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