Each holiday season, Ross Nochumowitz noticed local shoppers tediously compiling care packages with Baltimore-related items. Earlier this year, the 29-year-old Mount Washington resident made the process easier by creating Baltimore in a Box, an online shop that allows customers to fill a package with city-specific items for anyone feeling a little homesick (or just in need of some Big Boyz Bail Bonds pens).
Nochumowitz discussed, via email (hey, he's a busy guy this time of year), the most popular items, strange requests and more.
What's the farthest location you've sent a Baltimore in a Box package?
We have delivered boxes as far as Alaska, Hawaii, Afghanistan, Czech Republic, Germany and India.
What are the most popular items people choose?
The most popular item is, by far, Berger Cookies. They are requested in almost every box we send out. I would say the close second is probably Fisher's Popcorn or Old Bay.
What items do people most often request? I assume beer is probably popular, but I know you can't send it.
People do wish we could send beer. In fact, one customer chose Natty Boh as one of the items for his box and then emailed us when he received it to complain that there was no six-pack of Natty Boh inside (despite our website mentioning several times that we could not ship alcohol). When people request Natty Boh, we send items like koozies, key chains, T-shirt or stickers.
People have requested literally everything from Tanner's Pickles to Rheb's Chocolates to "The Wire" DVDs and maps of Druid Hill Park. We wish we could include everything people have asked for, but it would be too expensive to maintain such a vast inventory. We also want to have some exclusivity in the box. Only the most iconic items to Baltimore are included.
What's the strangest request you've received?
Somebody asked if we could send live crabs in the box. Others have asked for things like Chaps Pit Beef and Attman's corned beef. These would clearly be very difficult and expensive to ship.
Have you come across any heartwarming stories involving a package?
In one particular case, a customer reached out to us about sending a box to a close family friend from Baltimore that now lives in Connecticut who had recently lost their son to a tragic death. Rather than sending flowers, she wanted to send something unique and heartwarming — Baltimore in a Box, which was really incredible to me. It showed me how much of an impact the city of Baltimore has had on so many people and how it can maybe bring some happiness to people even in the worst of times.