Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thrifty Upcycled Packaging Ideas: How Do You Ship Goods?


I love shipping playful vintage goodies from my Etsy shop all around the world.


I'll eventually replace my thrifty packaging methods with streamlined, professional wraps, but for now I appreciate the routine of cutting shipping labels and "thank you" cards from bright paper. Here are techniques I use to spend $0.00 on packaging supplies:

1. Check Curbsides and Dumpsters: They often yield the boxes you crave in excess!
2. Cut Big Boxes: I often cut down the sides of big boxes to get the perfect sized box.
3. Ask Friends: A friend gave me a huge stockpile of boxes and packing material for free! :)
4. Ask Stores: Ask if they'd set a pile of packaging aside for you instead of trashing them.
5. Use What You Have: I use excess construction paper for shipping labels for example.


In the future I may order pre-printed "thank you" cards but they'll need to leave room for me to add the customer's name and a space for me to draw, it makes packaging unique and it's free! It doesn't have to cost anything to make an impact!


How do you ship your packages? Where do you buy supplies? Let's discuss and help each other out in the comments.
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43 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. In the future I may shred the comics sections of newspapers for colorful and attractive upcycled packaging. I always use ample bubble wrap rather than grocery bags around each item to protect them though, it takes one expensive refund to learn a lesson on skimping there!

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  2. Love your packaging Van. My husband was impressed too! I have that little whale card on my fridge. :)

    My packaging techniques: I buy tissue paper in various patterns (usually at dollar stores) and wrap purchases up in that and tie a ribbon around it then put it in the box. I found some great mid mod patterns of tissue paper at a dollar store in Palm Springs last year during Modernism week and I bought a bunch of it to bring home. lol. (If anyone's going this year, try the dollar store near M Modern Gallery- they had tiki candles and cool gift wrapping stuff- at least they did last year but you know how the stock at those places changes.)

    I usually just write a thank you note on the receipt, but I like your idea of personalizing a thank you card. :)

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    1. I love the ribbon and tissue paper idea! I'll have to skim the aisles of the dollar store more carefully, I think I've seen some of the cool tiki stuff of which you speak. Glad you guys liked the packaging and the whale card, I have fun making it!

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  3. I think it only makes sense to use reused boxes and envelopes. I do admit for my art stuff on etsy I have new packaging. . . but only out of peer pressure! LOL! I feel like... if we all want to save the planet AND be thrifty, then reuse the envelopes we have! I know I get tons of them around this house.

    I've always wondered...do you think people think it's unprofessional? It would be cute to come up with some sort of label that you could put on the outside of all recycled packages, that explains what it is and why you're doing it!!! :D CUTE!

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    1. Great minds think alike, I had the same idea. It would make the recycled packaging charming rather than...ghetto fab, ha, if we made labels explaining that they just supported an environmentally friendly small business that upcycles materials. I bet the art packaging you have looks amazing, is it on your blog anywhere?

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  4. Your packaging is darling & colorful ... I love the personalized approach & think it is important for branding your shop into your customer's brain!

    I do glitter tissue from Dollar Tree for wrapping each item, sealed with a hand written thank you & always tuck in a business card. Then I tie that up with a bit of colorful baker's twine & a small plastic charm from HighPie on Etsy. During the holidays, or if a customer requests gift wrapping, I wrap the item up in brown paper (recycled grocery bags) & use the same baker's twine & charm to finish it off.

    The $1 section of Target & the clearance section of Ikea always have super cute note pads & gift tags that change with each season & holiday. I buy the ones that reflect my shop's kitschy aesthetic & use those for the handwritten thank yous. They usually have kitschy sweet patterned wrapping paper in those sections also.

    I recycle / repurpose as many mailers & boxes as I can, as long as they still look clean. After receiving many horribly packaged vintage items off of Ebay & Etsy through the years, I decided when I opened my Etsy shop that I would make my items look a bit more like a present for my customers. Once I got a children's book that was wrapped in 12 scraps of bubble wrap, held together with duct tape in a re-purposed mailer that looked like it had been trampled by a herd of elephants.

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    1. Thank you for the awesome tips and details! I need to take the same thinking to my items and make each item truly special. I do the hand drawn cards but want to do more :) The packages that always stick out in my mind are the ones wrapped with care with unique extras like twine bows, branded stickers and magnets and such. It really does make a difference and encourage repeat customers.

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  5. Ohhh I love your writing and drawings on coloured paper that would make my day opening a package and seeing that.

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  6. Your thank you cards are great-- if you are that clever I wouldn't buy pre-printed! I reuse boxes and envelopes too. One of these days I imagine I will run out however! Occasionally you can find the brown or padded envelopes new at a garage sale; wish that happened more often!

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    1. They're easy to find when they run out at least, I'm running low on my bubble wrap hoard.

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  7. I do nothing fancy. I throw items in a box and drop the package off at the P.O. I focus on the saftey of the product within the box and shipping time.

    I use to include cute thank you cards but got away from that. I just don't feel the need to include extras.

    I gather most of my boxes from the dollar or grocery store. I reuse plastic grocery bags, egg cartons, fast food drink carriers, and styro-foam that our construction products are shippedn in.

    A few months back, I had to start buying bubble wrap out of need. There are some great sellers on Ebay that sell bubble wrap and peanuts at great prices.

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    1. Thanks for the eBay reminder, I was going to look to it for some colorful bubble wrap on there. I bought a huge roll of bright green wrap that lasted me for a while.

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  8. I purchase a lot of my boxes at Wal-Mart as I need them. I also will get a few boxes from work and the thrift store I work at once a month will save bubble wrap for me.

    I sell quite a bit of glassware so I buy packing peanuts on ebay. Occasionally, I'll have to buy bubble wrap too! I also purchase shipping labels off ebay (they are really convenient too!)

    I put a business card in every package and I also include a thank you note written on a postcard. I buy the postcards for cheap when I go on summer vacation. This year my postcards have a San Francisco theme since I spent a week there this summer.

    I too also snag padded envelopes at thrifts or yard sales when I see them.

    Note: I've received packages before with a little note explaining that they use recycled packing materials. Ehhhh...I have no complaints, as long I get the item all in one piece I could care less how something is packed.

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    1. I used to do the post card thing too, they're so cheap! I've used ones from Crystal Springs in Florida and Las Vegas but now I stick to the construction paper for consistency. Thanks for the feedback on the packaging notes, I've got many fun ideas floating around that'll be fun to execute.

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  9. This helpful post and great comments couldn't have come at a better time for me. I just opened an Etsy shop and have been looking for great shipping tips. Thanks!

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    1. Glad it helps Melissa. I'll have to do another one on wrapping up items so they don't break! Almost everything I ship out is glass so I've gotten good at it ;p

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  10. I made friends with my husband's shipping and recieving guy at his work. Now he keeps any packaging (bubble wrap, peanuts, paper, etc) for me and sends them home with my husband from time to time. Those packaging materials can get so expensive. I know you are single, but maybe you have a good friend who works somewhere for packaging.
    I also bought a lot of white tissue paper right after Christmas when it was 50-75% off at stores for the items I can wrap nicely. Many of my items are just too large to wrap.
    Karen

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    1. Great minds think alike, I do have a reseller friend who worked shipping/receiving and he donates massive stockpiles to me. You can see his awesome box hoard here: http://www.thriftcore.com/2012/09/reseller-adventures-free-box-hunting.html

      I love the idea of stocking up when seasons end, I need to get on that more often.

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  11. Love your hand drawn thank yous. They're so cute and add just the right personal touch to your packages. Adding a note about why you're using recycled packing supplies would be good, so buyers don't feel funny about receiving something in a box advertising another brand or store. But your hand drawn cards really add that special touch :0)

    I do the un-PC thing and purchase 95% of all my shipping and packing supplies from places like Uline.com, PaperMart.com, eSupplyStore.com. eSupplyStore has bubblewrap at pretty good rates. I get my packing peanuts from a local store, as the shipping charges for peanuts are super high due to the size of the shipment. Another eBay seller told me that there's an online store that offers once a year specials on bubble wrap when it's dirt cheap. I think the site is bubblefast.com. When I started selling on eBay, I used to get my packing supplies free, as I used to work in a lab. Also, Craigslist is a great place to find freebies.

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    1. I ain't gonna hate, I've bought bubble wrap from Uline before and may be doing so again soon, it's just nice to have a consistent type around. Thank you so much for all the tips, gonna check all of those out. I may move to consistent boxes/wrap to help with branding. And to make storage easier! Storing my odd-sizes up-cycled boxes/packaging is an eye sore.

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  12. Most liquor stores are glad to give away boxes and the cardboard dividers are great to use when shipping glassware. I usually just order the free boxes from USPS for most of my online sales. I always include a small handmade card and business card in my packages as a thank you.

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    1. Yet another reason to befriend our local liquor store owners :) Thanks for the tips! I forgot to include that I always throw in my business card, too.

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  13. I love it when sellers attach a personal note with their orders. It really shows their commitment to customer service and that actual thought went into it. It helps to make me a returning customer. Give an Experience Gift across Oz and NZ with FreemanX Gifts

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