A local utility worker is feeling entrepreneurial this holiday season and has created a startup that sells gift boxes filled with what he thinks is the best Richmond has to offer.
Ben Saunders, an electric transmission worker for Dominion, launched Richmond in a Box from his home near City Stadium in November.
“It is a local icon-based gift box that attempts to get the essence of Richmond in a box,” Saunders said.
Richmond’s essence, as Saunders sees it, gives shoppers a choice of five or 10 items from a list that includes Pabst Blue Ribbon and Hardywood koozies, Route 11 chips, “RVA” stickers, VCU gear, Blanchard’s Coffee, Duke’s Mayonnaise, Ellwood Thompson’s granola bars and more.
Saunders, 33, said he grew up in Richmond and uses his knowledge of the area to guide what he tries to include on the list of items.
“I’m kind of an essence of Richmond-type person,” Saunders said.
A five-item box costs $35, and a 10 item box is $55. Saunders said he has sold about 30 boxes though mid-December since he launched. One of the challenges has been setting up wholesale accounts and getting the licensing for gear stamped with local companies’ logos.
A one-man operation for now, Saunders gathers and boxes up the items from his home.
“Everything is running from my tiny house,” he said.
Saunders got the idea to put Richmond in a box from an entrepreneur he heard about on Reddit.com with a similar concept in Baltimore. Saunders said he could eventually see expanding his operations to North Carolina in Charlotte and the Research Triangle area. He has already bought website names in preparation for expansions to those areas.
Saunders said in addition to new cities, he sees opportunity for Richmond in a Box at corporate events and with real estate agents looking for a good gift for new homeowners.
“I’ve been trying to start a business for a while,” Saunders said. “I’m a newbie to almost all of this.”
You can order Richmond In A Box at