Monday, July 25, 2016

Bark box Review

BarkBox is a monthly subscription service for --- you guessed it --- woman and man’s best friend. Their website lists the mission of the company clearly: to deliver “a monthly box of dog goodies.”

What Is Bark Box?

Set up is rather simple…Choose the size of your dog, the subscription plan you want, and then your dog’s BarkBox is shipped on the 15th of each month. Each box is loaded with “fun toys, healthy treats, and innovative gadgets that will drive pups bonkers,” according to the site. also offers the ability to purchase any of the items your dog may have liked in their online store. And if there was anything in the BarkBox that your dog didn’t like, they promise to make it right. “Scout’s Honor.”

I was already intrigued, but what made me more excited and interested in giving this a try was the fact that the company behind BarkBox, Bark & Co, supports shelters, rescues and non-profits across the United States “that help dogs find their forever homes.”

The site also displays some of themes of past boxes. Yes, themes.

One was called the “Barklyn Hipster,” and contained chew toys that looked like a slice of pizza and a can of beer, as well as other treats and perhaps some sort of scarf.

The “Wintery Mix” BarkBox had penguin and reindeer chew toys, and more winter-themed treats, like snowflake cookies.

The “Harvest” BarkBox contained an ear of corn chew toy, a yellow kong, and assorted treats.

Clearly some thought and care is put into this. I believe that these folks do indeed love dogs and wish to provide a nice, monthly gift for our favorite pets. The site says that each box contains about $35 worth of items, and subscriptions are as low as $20 per month.

My Experience With Bark Box

I decided to test out BarkBox for myself. Well, for Spot, our English Setter. I know, not the most original name, but it suits him. When your dog has spots, and your young daughter names him…

This Month's Box Included Over 5 Items....
My Monthly Bark Box
Spot fits the “Big & Bold” category as he is over 50 lbs., so I selected that. The other choices are “Small & Cute” (up to 20 lbs.) and “Just Right” (20-50 lbs.).

Next are the subscription choices: 12 months at $20 per, 6 months at $24 per, and 1 month at $29. And if your dog is extra playful, $9 more per month gets you another toy. Spot is a chewer, so I took BarkBox up on this offer.

In honor of the Olympics, the theme for July was “World Chompians.”  Spot’s box contained a plush gymnast chew toy, a nylon medal chew toy, Salmon Snacks, Gold Medal Dog Snack cookies, and a Crunchy Deer Chew.

The Verdict…

Spot loved the toys, playing with them regularly. The gymnast toy lasted about two weeks before her arms fell off. Good design though, as there is a squeaky ball inside, not stuffing. And the legs slide back and forth, which make them much more difficult for a dog to rip off, even a 50+ pounder.
The nylon gold medal is chewed up, but still in circulation. It’s very sturdy and I’m sure Spot will love to play with this toy beyond one month.

Spot never met a treat he didn’t like, and this month’s selection added to the list. The Salmon Snacks went quickly (and it’s worth noting that they are grain-free).

The American-made Gold Medal snacks were also a hit. They contain lamb, peas, flaxseed and cheddar. Again, no grain, and a good alternative to chicken if that is necessary for your pet.

But the big winner in the edible portion of the “World Chompians” BarkBox was the Crunchy Deer Chew. I don’t believe that Spot had ever had deer before, but he loved, loved, loved it. I’ll probably hit the online store and get a few more of those to have on hand.

Finally, the BarkBox contained a punch-out gold medal to hang over your pup’s collar. They urge you to take a picture and post it online with appropriate hashtags and such. Great advertising idea.

All in all, I am very impressed with BarkBox. I think the boxes are well thought out, the products are high-quality, and there is value, especially if you commit to a longer subscription. Give it a shot, I believe your dog will love it and definitely recommend checking out -

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Trunk Club Review

My Trunk Club Experience

It’s a painful paradox for the modern male: we want to look good, but we don’t want the hassle of trolling the mall. But if we shop online, we don’t get the personal service and style support that a human being equipped with headset and dressing room keys can provide.
Trunk Club believes they have the solution. They claim to ship customized, top-of-the-line clothing directly to your home. Clothing from 50 high-end manufacturers. 
Is it expensive? Of course it is. Any mass-customized, high-fashion, warehouse-to-your-house solution must be.  Hence, mens subscriptions services are wildly popular.
But is it worth it? That’s the question we strive to answer below.

So just how does Trunk Club Work?

Its mission is simple: upon your request, deliver to your front door a trunk (it’s really just a box) filled with stylish, quality clothing that are adapted to your tastes and body style. In order to achieve this level of customization, Trunk Club connects you with a personal stylist who is armed with your fashion preferences, stores you frequent, and your measurements…all gleaned from a survey you filled out.Said stylist hand picks your clothing, pops it in a “trunk” and ships it off. You have ten days from receipt to try   everything on and decide what you want to keep and what you want to return (Trunk Club pays the return shipping).You also leave feedback for the stylist regarding his or her trunk selections to help them pack future trunks. Once ten days have passed, you are charged for anything you kept. 

Is Trunk Club a Subscription Service?

No, it is not. However, customers do pay a price…Trunks are only shipped out upon customer request. Personal stylists can be contacted via phone, email, text message and even through the Trunk Club app or website. 

About that price…These clothing items are not coming from Old Navy or even The Gap. Think more along the lines of Bloomingdales and other high-end department stores. Trunk Club offers pricing examples such as $170-$250 for denim, $100-$200 for casual shirts, and $100-$300 for sweaters. 
To add to the sticker shock, Trunk Club does not offer information for returns beyond the ten-day trial period. 

So, is Trunk Club Worth It?

Yes, if you are an extremely busy fellow, who doesn’t have an eye for fashion, but does have the cash flow necessary to finance well over $1000 per trunk of clothing. Guys fitting this description report that Trunk Club is convenient, the selection of clothing solid, and the hand-written note from the personal stylist appreciated…
For the other 95% of us? No. There’s no bargain rack at Trunk Club from which a guy can get last month’s fashions at 50% off. In fact, there are reports that Trunk Club prices are higher than normal retail. I guess they have to pay the bills, but so do the rest of us. 
And there are hidden costs as well. Most of the pants come with 34” inseams, so they need to be professionally tailored. As do the jackets, and the dress shirts for the best fit. Furthermore, if you are below 5’8”, Trunk Club probably can’t help you out, even with professional tailoring. 

The Verdict…

Trunk Club is a clever idea, and for the most part is well-orchestrated, but is not for the common man. The price points are simply too high, and many report that the quality of the clothing doesn’t match the price tag. Add to that the nebulas post-ten-day return policy, and it’s head on out to the mall, my friend. For those of you that can afford it, check out - Just be prepared to spend a pretty penny.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Birchbox - For Men Subscription Box Review

What is Birchbox

Birchbox is a subscription service for men or women that delivers monthly fashion and lifestyle products at the price of $20 each.  The boxes contain about five samples that are matched to your preferences. These products are available full-sized in the Birchbox online store.

The mission of Birchbox founders Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna is to allow women and men to sample quality fashion and lifestyle products without having to purchase them full-sized. Also, they wanted to narrow down the field by picking the best products based upon the customer’s needs and preferences. 

The company opened in 2010, offering products for women only. Birchbox for men was launched in 2012, and has been active ever since.The basic premise sounded solid, so I thought I would give it a shot. $20 per month, for three or four sample sized products and one full-sized lifestyle item, seemed more than reasonable.

My Birchbox Experience...

After filling out my shipping and payment information (one thing about the monthly subscription service space…You’ll always give personal info before filling out any preference questionnaires or learning anything else about what you might buy), and actually purchasing my first box, I was prompted to complete my profile information.

I informed Birchbox of my skin tones, facial hair grooming habits, hair style and grooming concerns, basic clothing sizes, and what I was most excited to try out (beard supplies, bath and body, gadgets, etc.). I’m not sure if it is my computer, but the Birchbox website was a little clunky and difficult to scroll through. Other websites were working just fine at the same time, so I think it is an issue they might have to iron out or risk losing customers with minimal patience.

What Did I Get? Drum Roll Please......

Contents were socks, natural soaps, and lotions...
My Birchbox Monthly Package
My First Birchbox, called "Made in the Shade" contained July-themed products.  The introduction 
card reminded me that summer is no longer a three-month, spiked-lemonade induced nap, and that 
Birchbox for men will allow me to get the most out of my summer.  Sunshine and all!The lifestyle item I was given was some cool socks, ($24.99 retail). They were soft, easy to pack, and advertised as having “soft cashmere feel” which I really liked.

Kiehl’s White Eagle Ultimate Brushless All Skin Types Shave Cream was one of the sample-sized grooming products I received. It boasts being “spiked with menthol and camphor,” a verb choice definitely targeted at men. While I do have a beard, I still shave closely under the chin line and above the cheek line. The product gave me a comfortable, close shave, but many other products have done the same. Good stuff, but didn’t blow me away.

The next item was Parlor Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray for hair. “Beach hair is no longer reserved for long weekends,” or so the product literature claims. Everybody loves that salty volume and control our hair gets from the ocean. This product does a pretty darn good job of recreating it. I don’t think I would use it in a formal setting, but heading out for the night, or maybe at a weekend picnic, I would definitely give my hair that tousled look.

I’m no spring chicken, so my skin is starting to show its age. The final two products I received are designed to combat that. Supergoop! SPF 30 Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum is lightweight (in a different way than the duffle bag is lightweight). In addition to sun protection, Supergoop! also provides moisture in the form of Vitamins E and B5. I liked the product, and I would use it again. It didn’t muck up my beard, as the name of the product implies that it might.

The final product was Under Eye Complex by Baxter of California. The products states that it was “created specifically for men” and contains caffeine, antioxidant vitamins and seaweed extract. I tried it…Um, yeah, I think it made the skin below my eyes look better. I think.

The Verdict.....

All in all, I’m impressed with Birchbox Man. For only $20 a month, you get a cool life style item, as well as a handful of high-quality grooming products to try. I will stick with my subscription, at least until I find all the products I would like to use.  For those men who are looking for something fun and a little different I suggest checking them out....  You should find plenty of worthwhile trinkets in your monthly box and is defiantly worth a test spin.