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For the best of the pack, shop online

August 27, 2003|Charles Perry

Department stores stock picnic baskets, but there's a much wider range of choices if you go online.

All sorts of baskets, from traditional models to the jazziest new backpacks, are for sale at sites such as www.picnicplanet.com, www.perfect-picnics.com, www.picnic-baskets-bargains.com and www.picnicstop.com.

All these sites sell similar makes and models of baskets at slightly different prices. Most also stock other food-carrying gear such as tailgate setups and special miniature picnic baskets designed for coffee and pastry or wine and cheese.

If you're looking for something simple and straightforward, there's a classic number made by Basketville (in business since 1842) available at www.cooking.com.

If you're in the market for a top-of-the-line basket, www.buychoice.com sells traditional English baskets with chinaware strapped into the lid at prices from $142 to $470.25. (What do you get for $470.25? A willow basket with bone china service for six.) It specializes in baskets fitted with Royal Stafford china.

At the other end of the price spectrum, you sometimes can find positively dirt-cheap picnic baskets on www.graveyardmall.com, a reseller of overstock and close-out merchandise.

And then there's www.baskets-n-more.com, with its unique selection of old-fashioned willow, ash and birch baskets. Some require a wait of two or three weeks because they're made to order, and most are sold without the tablecloths, plates and other tableware that are selling points at other sites. The Classic Gourmet model (for "the systematic picnicker") includes two smaller baskets within the main basket to protect crushable foods, as well a miniature table (called a "stack rack"). Most of this site's baskets come from New England firms such as Meadowlark and Peterboro.

-- Charles Perry

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