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  1. #1
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Packing Materials (boxes, etc)
    We've been ordering the bulk of our boxes and packing supplies from ULINE, supplementing those with free Priority Mail boxes and envelopes from the USPS on smaller items and of course reusing all the packing materials sent to us (except boxes). We still end up paying about $2 an order on just packing stuff.

    Obviously we pass most of that on to the customer, but I'd still like to cut costs where we can. Anyone know a cheaper source for boxes than ULINE? A big chunk of our cost is in shipping the boxes to us in the first place. Has anyone had better luck going with a local supplier that doesn't have to ship so far?

    Thanks!
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  2. #2
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    Depends on where you are. There are many companies that specialize in custom shipping materials and packaging. I'm near a large city (San Diego) and I get free delivery direct from the company. I buy in large bulk so that may make a difference.

  3. #3
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    If you're near a large city, you should be able to find a boxmaker there. Then you can just drive down and pick up the order (some will deliver if you're close enough).

    The main problem with these "old style" box companies, is that they (the ones I've seen at least) make you buy a large amount of boxes, so if you need a few each of a lot of different sizes, you can end up buried in extras as well as have to make a big up-front investment. And, some of their prices are no great deal...you may need to shop around.

    reusing all the packing materials sent to us (except boxes).
    I reuse everything that doesn't have some other joint's name irrevocably slapped on it. Gardeners are cool that way, they like recycling
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  4. #4
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    I'm in a town of 700, so it'd be a 50 mile round trip at least to get anywhere with a box maker, but in talking with a manufacturer I may pick up today, they mentioned getting a manual box cutting machine. Said they were like $30, and you could cut and fold whatever sizes you were after...?! Sounds a little too good to be true, but worth a look anyway...
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  5. #5
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    I don't buy boxes, but for the other shipping materials I use, I've found prices at Papermart to be lower than Uline.

  6. #6
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eathan
    I'm in a town of 700, so it'd be a 50 mile round trip at least to get anywhere with a box maker, but in talking with a manufacturer I may pick up today, they mentioned getting a manual box cutting machine. Said they were like $30, and you could cut and fold whatever sizes you were after...?! Sounds a little too good to be true, but worth a look anyway...
    It sounds like he may be talking about using that cutter with those "select a size" type boxes I've seen. The catch is, last time I looked, those variable-sized boxes cost so much that it's better in the long run to just get lots of different sizes already predone (unless you'd usually be "selecting" its biggest size and only rarely need the smaller options)!

    As for the driving distance, my town isn't so small, but the cities that are big enough to have anything like box manufacturers in 'em are just as far away (and the biggest one is even further, about a 90 mile round trip).

    But I could see a point where it'd be worth it to drive...that'd be when UPS's delivery fees are so much more expensive than the cost of my gas/time (including PITA Factor, which I also put a cost to) that it's simply no longer justifiable to have them shipped.

    Every year I drive about 100 miles or so round trip to get the bulbs from the importing company, rather than pay the UPS fees...so I don't tend to find a long driving distance itself too daunting. It saves me $150-$200 or more in shipping fees, even after accounting for my own gas, time, and bother. UPS is a real profit killer...

    What I DO have a problem with is actually getting to places like that before they close!! Usually such places are long shut before I'm even awake! So if I'm going to do it, I make sure to get PLENTY of stock. They won't be seeing me back in just a week or two.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  7. #7
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    Leader - you mentioned that your reuse all the boxes unless the previous shipper has stamped their name all over it - I'm seeing several second-life boxes turned inside out with 'BuyXXX' on the outside and 'Sam Smith Beer' on the inside.

  8. #8
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by micheck
    Leader - you mentioned that your reuse all the boxes unless the previous shipper has stamped their name all over it - I'm seeing several second-life boxes turned inside out with 'BuyXXX' on the outside and 'Sam Smith Beer' on the inside.
    LOL well, I'm not going to go *that* far!

    But I have heard of people buying print overruns from other companies...guess that'd be a way to hide the other name, at least until someone opens it
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  9. #9
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bayview
    I don't buy boxes, but for the other shipping materials I use, I've found prices at Papermart to be lower than Uline.
    Thanks! Will check it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    It sounds like he may be talking about using that cutter with those "select a size" type boxes I've seen. The catch is, last time I looked, those variable-sized boxes cost so much that it's better in the long run to just get lots of different sizes already predone (unless you'd usually be "selecting" its biggest size and only rarely need the smaller options)!

    As for the driving distance, my town isn't so small, but the cities that are big enough to have anything like box manufacturers in 'em are just as far away (and the biggest one is even further, about a 90 mile round trip).

    But I could see a point where it'd be worth it to drive...that'd be when UPS's delivery fees are so much more expensive than the cost of my gas/time (including PITA Factor, which I also put a cost to) that it's simply no longer justifiable to have them shipped.

    Every year I drive about 100 miles or so round trip to get the bulbs from the importing company, rather than pay the UPS fees...so I don't tend to find a long driving distance itself too daunting. It saves me $150-$200 or more in shipping fees, even after accounting for my own gas, time, and bother. UPS is a real profit killer...

    What I DO have a problem with is actually getting to places like that before they close!! Usually such places are long shut before I'm even awake! So if I'm going to do it, I make sure to get PLENTY of stock. They won't be seeing me back in just a week or two.
    I'm really not sure what he was talking about, but he did become a supplier, so I should have time to pick his brain. He also has a custom box maker he works with, so I may at least be able to get some made for the odd sized stuff we carry.

    The driving distance I mentioned is to the next town of any size. They may or may not have a box maker. If there was one, and they were open on weekends, I'd be all over it. It'd have to be weekends though. We already make the trip at least once a week, plus several other trips to stay stocked, etc. After a few years of this, 50 miles feels like 1000 if you don't have to drive it...

    Guess that's the PITA factor.

    We don't reuse boxes as shipping containers, but we do cut them up to use the cardboard as packing material. Some of the stuff we sell requires a lot of added reinforcement, and most boxes have a lot of good, unbranded cardboard available. It's heavier than the bubbles Amazon uses, but somehow I think a rock pick might make a mess of a box full of plastic bubbles...
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

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