When I lived in Binghamton, NY, I would often visit Tom’s Coffee Cards & Gifts to check out their selection of uncommon gifts and taste their always abundant samples of salsa and chips, chocolate and specialty sauces. At the time, I had been searching for a water bottle that fit my personality (weird, attention-grabbing but nonetheless thought-provoking), and I figured Tom’s was the right place to look. Naturally, the store had a really good selection of stainless steel bottles that were also on sale.
It was buy one get one free, so I chose two bottles (pictured to the left) made by BlueQ. They still make me laugh every time I reach for them, and I’ve found them to be a great conversation-starter.
I wanted to learn more about the people that produced my new treasure, so I checked out their website, and as I suspected, they’re pretty cool. Their company culture shines through nicely on their website, and it’s obvious that they care about their customers.
Below are six things you should know about BlueQ:
- The owners, brothers Mitch and Seth Nash, started the company in 1988.
- BlueQ designs and manufactures all their products, and they do it in an environmentally and socially responsible way: they employ fair labor and wage practices, and use recycled products whenever they can.
- They are the largest private employer of individuals with disabilities in Western Massachusetts.
- They are located in Pittsfield, MA, located about an hour from Albany, NY. It’s a quaint and lively small city, and brags many awards for its quality of life. In 2004, a historian found a reference in a by-law that states “no one shall play baseball within 80 yards of the new meeting house,” thus dubbing Pittsfield the birthplace of baseball (sorry, Cooperstown)!
- BlueQ donates 1% of all bag and stainless steel water bottle sales to the Nature Conservancy, which protects more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide. Pretty cool!
- Direct quote from their about section: “We just want you to be happy. We do everything for you. Yes. You.” This quote is a great example of their sense of humor and genuine interest in the customers; I really believe them.
What kind of stuff does BlueQ sell?
Everything BlueQ produces has a degree of quirkiness, and the majority is meant to be given as a gift. They poke fun of religion, marriage, and old-age equally, so as not to discriminate one or the other.
This is a non-comprehensive list of the products they design and sell:
- Bags, like their ever popular Michelle Obama shopping bags
- Very tiny coffee table books
- Travel drink-ware (for water, coffee, and tea),
- Breath, gum, hand sanitizers
- Home décor: remember, they began as a lighting company
- Magnets and tin boxes
- Ramen noodles
- Stickers and tattoos
Where can I find BlueQ products?
After you peruse their selection online – take time to stop to giggle – you can buy anything you like directly from the website. Additionally, they show their support for local businesses by incorporating a “where to buy” tab that allows you to search for shops a given distance from your zip code. The result will give you the shop’s name, address, driving directions, and the product lines it offers. I found two stores within 10 miles of my home in Rochester, NY!
After writing this review, I’d love to take a pilgrimage to Pittsfield, MA to discuss the history of baseball and visit the BlueQ headquarters. They seem like a group of people I’d love to share my time with.