Shopping in bulk through Boxed

Many New Yorkers struggle with this question: How do you buy those bulk items you need, like toilet paper and paper towels, at a good price when you live in the city and you don't have a car?

Chieh Huang and three friends attempted to answer that question in 2013 when they came up with Boxed, an online warehouse club now worth at least half a billion dollars.

Chieh says Boxed ships all of those big items you'd buy at Sam's Club, Costco, or BJ's right to your door. Shipping is free for purchases over $49 and there are no membership fees.

If you live in New York City, you'll get your shipment overnight.

Chieh launched Boxed in his parents' garage 5 years ago and describes the early days as a bunch of 30-year-olds at a lemonade stand gone wrong. But those 30-year-olds were onto something.

They did $40,000 in sales that year and within 36 months hit $100 million. Chieh says they did a lot wrong, but one of the few things they got right was that online groceries would be a big thing.

Boxed started with about 200 products: essentials like toilet paper and Tide pods. The Tide pods were actually the very first item they sold on their first day in that garage to a buyer in the Bronx.

Today, Boxed has more than 1,600 products including their own in-house brand, Prince & Spring, all packed and shipped from one of their four fulfillment and distribution centers around the country.

Chieh says those centers are everywhere from Las Vegas, Nevada to Union, New Jersey. Orders activate from the nearest fulfillment center so that everything travels via ground which makes it very economical and allows for delivery in two days or less.

Last December, Boxed launched liquor sales in California and expanded to New York in July. Boxed also sells spirits in Massachusetts.

But in New York City, Boxed's biggest claim to fame is its headquarters, named one of the best places to work by Crain's New York Business. And it's not hard to see why.

Chieh says they offer really meaningful perks to employees not just at their office but also at their fulfillment centers across the country.

If you're a full-time employee, Boxed will subsidize your child's tuition. If you have a life-changing event like a wedding, Boxed will pay up to $20,000. If you're a mother or a father, you get unlimited maternity and paternity leave.

And it looks like this is only the beginning for Boxed. This winter, Kroger's offered to buy Boxed for $400 million, but Chieh turned it down. He says a big investor told him that if Boxed isn't making billions by the year 2020, the founders will have really messed something up. They're going to give it a try.