Need a present for a U-M fan? Look no further than ProudBox, presented by M Den, a three-month gift subscription fan box that will bring Wolverine swag straight to your recipient’s door. Contents include Zingerman’s treats, U-M accessories, football memorabilia, and a “surprise” items.
So what, exactly, is a ProudBox? It’s a gift box filled with the “sights and sounds and tastes of Ann Arbor,” according to creator Carrie Thorpe, MBA’16. For the 2017 holiday season, the December box is “super-sized” (or rather Santa-sized) and tailored to meet the needs of every Wolverine in the family. (All of the three-month gift subscriptions retail for $170.) The “Holiday for Her” gift box includes everything from a U-M charm bangle to organic nail polish with shades named “Big House Blue” and “A-Maiz-Ing.” Also inside is a $10 Zingerman’s gift card one can use online or in the store. The January and February boxes have their own themes: bowl game memorabilia for the start of the year and sweet treats the following month to celebrate Valentine’s day. The “Holiday for Him” gift box includes a leather toiletry bag, a navy hat, and a pair of gloves, all bearing the Block M, along with a Jim Harbaugh ornament for your tree. The “Holiday for Kids” subscription includes Block M headphones and a Nike-UM gym sack.
While studying at U-M, Thorpe discovered this untapped niche (nostalgia for U-M) in the mail order market. Then, earlier this year, incoming Athletic Director Warde Manuel, ’90, MSW’93, MBA’05, agreed to meet with her. Seeing the marketing potential in her idea, Manuel suggested she meet with the director of trademark licensing in Michigan Athletics. Next up was Scott Hirth, MBA’92, an owner of M Den, who became an official retail partner with Thorpe for U-M.
“The idea is that you open the box and the experience of U-M and Ann Arbor comes back to you,” says Thorpe, adding that they also include a copy of The Michigan Daily in the gift boxes to share with recipients the student’s viewpoint, as alumni like to know what is happening on campus. “We are also trying to include items manufactured locally and by our alumni and have lots of ideas for future partnerships.”
Look for an expansion of her business in July. Thorpe is hoping U-M parents will want to send student-oriented ProudBoxes to their kids on campus during orientation and exams.