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Meet Anne Pazier of Santa Barbara Gift Baskets

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne Pazier.

Anne, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Everything about Santa Barbara Gift Baskets is designed to celebrate our very special local community. Santa Barbara is my hometown, and I am so proud of it! I grew up here on the “American Riviera” as the only child in a long line of serial entrepreneurs. My grandmother owned a Belgian Fudge Shop in El Paseo, which today is a burgeoning hot spot for wine tasting in downtown Santa Barbara. My parents opened their first Old Time Photo Studio on State Street in what longtime residents will remember as Picadilly Square (now the site of Paseo Nuevo mall). Eventually, my parents went on to establish an entire industry around the concept of guests dressing up in period costumes worn over their street clothes and having sepia-toned vintage photos captured with their group. Much of my childhood was spent traveling all over the world helping other entrepreneurs establish their own photo business, but no matter which exotic venue we visited, I always felt the most at home in Santa Barbara. I think it’s that combined passion for my sweet hometown as well as my deeply entrenched respect for small business owners that sits at the heart of Santa Barbara Gift Baskets.

In 2005, after leaving a corporate sales position to have our first child, my husband and I launched a little online gifting business from our home. As a firefighter for Santa Barbara County, my husband was gone so frequently on fires that very quickly, I became “head of operations”. When our son was old enough for school, we decided we needed a brick and mortar presence to grow our business and purchased a little corner market in Santa Barbara’s financial district. On a shoestring budget and through lots of sweat and tears, we remodeled the market and rebranded it The (805) Deli. This all took place just as the country was entering into a recession and California was entering one of the worst decades of fire behavior in its history. I was still running the gifting side of the business during those years, but the restaurant really took most of my resources. In 2011, we sold the deli and I was finally able to give the gifting business the attention it deserved. At that same time, a longstanding local gift shop downtown had just closed and the very sweet owners made the name, Santa Barbara Gift Baskets, available to us. Along with a new name we found a new location. Our current space in Old Town Goleta is a product of my husband’s vision and our combined hard work refurbishing a historic welding garage into what is today our beautiful open-air showroom and tasting room.

Prior to the pandemic, the front of our 3,000 square foot space allowed us to regularly host wine tastings, design classes, book signings, and other events highlighting local makers. At this moment, we have suspended the gathering and tasting aspect of our business but have pivoted to accommodate contactless, drive-up shopping along the side of our building. Guests appreciate the option to pull in and shop right from their vehicles, or stay home and shop our convenient website to have gifts delivered locally or shipped nationwide. Throughout the year, thousands of clients entrust us with their very precious and personal gifting needs. On any given day, we have the privilege of congratulating new parents, welcoming a company’s new employees, celebrating newlyweds and milestone birthdays and anniversaries. Our gifts are the first thing greeting countless guests in their hotel rooms as they arrive to visit our beautiful city, and we are often called on to deliver heartfelt, nourishing gifts of gratitude or sympathy. So, not only do we have the honor of helping our clients express themselves, but we get to do it by showcasing the very best of dozens of local entrepreneurs. Each of our gift baskets is truly a little slice of Santa Barbara and California.

Has it been a smooth road?
The years during the recession when we had just opened the deli and struggled to keep both businesses and our young family going, all while every few months another fire seemed to pull my husband away. Those were the most challenging of times, but they prepared us with valuable lessons on operating under turbulent conditions we would later face such as the Thomas Fire and subsequent mudflow and freeway closures, and now during this pandemic.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
At Santa Barbara Gift Baskets, we design unique gifts featuring the finest gourmet food, wine and craft beers from Santa Barbara and other parts of California. We love discovering new local purveyors who are as passionate as we are about their products and their community. Unlike many of the mainstream gifting companies found at big-box stores or online, our priority is using local, handcrafted foods that will surprise and impress the recipient. It’s important for our gifts to look gorgeous, but never by sacrificing taste or quality for aesthetics. We purchase all of our inventory in small batches from local vendors, ensuring our products are always fresh. We take time to discover exactly what “story” our clients want to tell with their gift and add as many personal touches as possible, even customized features such as ribbon with a recipient’s name.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I believe we are entering into a time when people are far more conscious of where their dollars are going. They want to support businesses that reflect the world they want to live in. They are curating a world with more diversity. Diverse neighbors, foods, cultures. I see business chains where a semi-truck is rolling up in the dark of night and delivering all the goods that are sold inside. No positive footprint is being left on that community and its economy. Conversely, our deliveries are often made by the makers themselves. We know them and their families. We talk about the state of the world, our local economy, and we share ways in which we can support one another. I even host gatherings and social events just for my makers in my home. They have truly become my family. I love referring my makers to other buyers. I want them to sell their products in as many places as possible because I am only as good as the items we have to choose from in our gifts, and I need them all to stay in business!

I definitely think LA, like Santa Barbara, is a hotbed for talented and brave entrepreneurs/makers!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
The wine box and photo with my makers was taken by Kelly Sweda Photography

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