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How to pack clothing for shipment - shipping weights, etc.

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
I want to get a guide to shipping put together and then I'll pin it in the Buying and Selling forum. I sometimes go to sell something and then realize I have no idea how to wrap it up, what kind of box to use, whether to wrap it in plastic first, paper, etc. And also, I have no scale, so I don't know how much a piece weighs. When I shipped a blazer recently I had to guess-weigh it against a bag of flour or something I had in my kitchen (I was within an ounce! ) but it would be great to get close guidelines put together in an easy to use format. Maybe the wiki would be a good way to do this, but for now I'd like to get a discussion. I'd try to start, but I can't even remember how I used to wrap things when I was selling regularly. The only one I did a lot of was cashmere sweaters which I would put in the priority boxes just by themselves. I probably should have wrapped them in plastic first in case they got wet on the way, though.

So basically, for every type of item:

Type of box or envelope - type of wrap - usual weight - anything else you can think of.


Odd jacket (light/heavy weight)
Odd pants (light/heavy weight)
Coat (light/heavy weight)
Suit (light/heavy weight)
Vest (light/heavy weight)
Sweater (light/heavy weight)
Shoes/Boots (stuff them with newspaper? special box?)

post #2 of 48
Shipping containers: I use Priority Mail for domestic shipping because the free boxes and envelopes are a major perk. First class for ties, as it allows me to ship an item for much cheaper when the value of the item is usually relatively small. Internationally, I use coated bubble mailers, or I'll turn used Priority boxes inside out if I need a larger container. As far as what I put into certain types of packaging: 11.75" x 15" Tyvek Priority Mail envelopes: (for domestic, similar size bubble mailer for international) - Dress shirts - Dress pants - Most sweaters #0 (6x9") bubble mailers: (can also use #1) - Neckties - Belts - Pocket squares - Small leather goods 12.5" x 15.5" Priority Mail shirt boxes: (they also have a slightly larger size) - Sport coats - Heavy sweaters - Light outerwear - Well-packed suits (the slightly larger size works even better) Priority Mail shoe boxes: - Shoes - Other somewhat oblong and slightly bulky items Random boxes from other things: - Suits with thick material, or in large sizes - Heavy overcoats
post #3 of 48
I've gotten burned on shipping so many times that I usually charge a flat $8.50 for suits/sportcoats/heavier trousers/sweaters. That way you can use a Priority Mail flat-rate box, if necessary, and still have 40 cents left over for tape, other shipping supplies, etc. (Heavy three-pieces, though, can be too much for the flat-rate box.) I like to wrap the stuff in either a plastic bag or an Express Mail envelope before stuffing it in the box. If I need packing material, the Express mail envelopes work in a pinch.

For shoes, USPS offers special priority mail shoe boxes. They're great, but I never see them at my local post offices. Instead, I have to order them online, at the USPS site. The best part is that they're completely free -- the postman just brings them with my mail. In terms of weight, shoes can be tricky, so I usually ask for $12.50. I like to wrap each shoe in its own bag -- usually plastic, if I don't have shoe bags. I don't bother stuffing them with newspaper, unless the stuffing really makes them present better.

Shirts and other light items can usually go pretty cheap. $6.50 pretty much always covers it. Pocket squares, ties and socks can go for Priority for $4.10.

I used to offer shipping choices, but I've largely scrapped that. The savings aren't that significant for most items, and eBay customers like to get their stuff fast. The only times I'll consider alternative shipping methods is for very lightweight items -- sometimes I'll list those with free shipping, then send them by standard mail. (I disclose this in the auction, and offer to upgrade to Priority for a small fee.) The free shipping really does seem to work as an inducement for bidding. I know I'm a sucker for it.
post #4 of 48
How to pack: In four years of selling on ebay and on SF, I have never had a problem with an item arriving damaged - either domestically or internationally. I like to package items using newspaper and plastic grocery store bags because I like to recycle, and there are always some of both on hand when I need them. Sometimes items may get wrinkled in the mail, but I find that careful folding usually reduces the need for elaborate packing methods. For shirts, I usually carefully fold them in the way you'd find them packaged flat in a store, and place them in the envelope. If it is a higher-dollar item, I will fold it in a sheet of tissue paper and place it inside a plastic bag, but I have never had a complaint or issue when I simply put it in the envelope, and I find most sellers seem to do the same. For pants and jeans, I will fold the pair in half, then half again, and place it in an envelope. You may need to carefully 'roll' one side of the folded pants over a bit so it better fits in the package, but it should not cause a problem. If it is a more expensive item, I will use a box and the packaging techniques I use for the expensive shirts. For jackets and suits, I hold the jacket vertically and fold it in half along the vertical axis, tucking the shoulder of one side into the armhole of the other side. I carefully lay the jacket flat on a clean surface, carefully position the sleeve on the top of jacket, fold the bottom of the jacket up maybe 5-6", then fold the whole thing in half. Often times I will use tissue paper in this process, as well as a plastic bag to keep things together and help it to slide into the box without messing up the folds. If the item was a suit, I will fold the pants as per above, put them in a separate bag, and place both inside the box. For ties and pocketsquares, I will fold them only as many times as I need to so that the finished product is only a bit shorter than the envelope, and put them inside. I also wrap these items in tissue paper as they are delicate. For shoes, I will pack both shoes with newspaper, and place each shoe inside a separate plastic bag. I will place some newspaper inside the bottom of the Priority shoe box, put the shoes inside, and fill the remaining space with some newspaper so they don't move around and get scuffed.
post #5 of 48
I use this method to fold sportcoats/blazers/suitcoats, from Bruce Boyer's Elegance:

I then wrap them in UHaul wrapping paper. A box will last a long time.
post #6 of 48
Typical costs for what I charge for US Priority Mail shipping on ebay items: $5.95 for shirts $7.49 for pants and sweaters $8.95 for sport coats $9.95 for suits $9.95 for shoes $4.50 for ties This will basically cover the cost of shipping, gas/insurance/wear and tear, and materials. Often time I will have an extra buck leftover from the shirts and pants, but there have been plenty of times when heavy suits and shoes will end up costing more to ship than I charged. Also, I'll sometimes pay for insurance out of my pocket on expensive items that the buyers chose not to insure. In the end I think it all evens out. When I sell on SF I usually charge 15-20% less for shipping.
post #7 of 48
Once I received a knit tie that had been shipped in a mini-pizza box.

Don't do this.
post #8 of 48
Typical weights of items:

(note that I weighed a few items I have in stock to find these numbers)

- Cotton dress shirts: 8-15 ounces, depending on fabric weight and shirt size
- Lightweight sweaters: 7-14 ounces
- Mid to heavyweight sweaters: 14-25 ounces
- Jeans: 22-30 ounces depending on size and denim weight
- Lightweight sport coats: 20-30 ounces depending on size and material
- Midweight sport coats: 25-35 ounces " "
- Heavyweight sport coats: 35-45 ounces " "
- Lightweight cotton/linen/crepe wool pants: 12-20 ounces " "
- Midweight worsted wool pants: 14-25 ounces " "
- Heavy flannel wool pants: 15-30 ounces " "
- Suits: do the math
- Silk neckties: 1.5-2.5 ounces
- Leather belts with standard-sized metal buckles: 4-6 ounces
- Pocket squares: under an ounce, probably 1/4 to 1/2
- Shoes: 30-45 ounces (without trees) depending on size and construction
- Ankle boots: 36-50 ounces (w/o trees)
- Sneakers: 25-40 ounces
- Shoe trees: 16-24 ounces per pair)

Priority Mail tyvek envelopes: .5oz
Priority Mail shirt boxes: 7oz
Priority Mail shoe boxes: 7.5oz
Tie-sized bubble mailer: 1oz
Shirt-sized bubble mailer: 1.5oz
post #9 of 48
Thread Starter 
Thanks people! I'll let this go a bit and move it to B&S. If anyone is bored enough to take pics of how they wrap stuff, that would be cool too.
post #10 of 48
If the items are of a large value, do not use USPS!!! If you must, use REGISTERED MAIL. I was badly burned, see here:
post #11 of 48
Thread Starter 
Moving this to B&S and pinning.
post #12 of 48
A little off-subject but any ideas on shipping golf clubs? I'm having a tough time finding boxes. Also, with USPS's new shipping you think it is better and more cost effective to ship UPS? Ground would be slower than priority but much cheaper I believe.
post #13 of 48
I've been selling individual golf clubs. I use Priority poster mailers, they are like a tube but triangle in cross-section. Golf clubs are longer than one mailer, I cut one apart and add it on to the end of another. You can adjust the length of the box to your preference. Tape the overlapping part. USPS doesn't mind that you cut it apart, as long as you don't turn it inside out. These boxes are free from USPS.
post #14 of 48
anyonr have experince in shipping topcoats, large winter coats, that is type of box etc ? i am going to sell some this fall.
post #15 of 48
Do any of you guys actually go to the Post Office?

I'd like to start giving some stuff and selling some other stuff.

But I went to the local Post Office the other day and it was terrible. The line was very long and the clerk was not too helpful.

I sent one sport coat with some additional items (ties and pocket squares), and that was not too bad. I got it in a flat rate box. That was $8.90, I think, and I paid an additional $.65 for tracking.

Then I sent about 6 ties out in one box. I found a small priority mail box and that cost $5.95. More than I wanted, but OK.

The third package was going to Boise Idaho. It was a suit, and I also added another sport coat, a pair of pants, and some ties. There was no way that it would fit in a flat rate box.

So, I packed it in a box that I had. The clerk quoted me $22.65 for Priority Mail shipping. I thought that was too high, so I asked for a regular, normal postal rate. She came up with $11.50. That was fine, but I needed to tape the box up.

That was a problem! The only tape that was provided gratis by the USPS was Priority Mail tape, which would require that I send the package Priority mail. But I didn't want to send it Priority Mail for $22.65. So she said I could buy some tape. I had to buy a $5.95 roll of tape that would probably have been $1 at Walgreens. But I didn't want to delay shipment or go back to the Post Office.

To you shipping experts (Vman, Mack, A Harris et al.), I ask:

1: Do you actually go to that Post Office to send your shipments? Or do you have them picked up ? And do you print your USPS labels or how do you handle that?

2: Do you go to the Post Office to pick up your Flat Rate and Priority mailers, or do you have them sent to you?

3: Does anyone know of any "Official" USPS boxes for shoes that are still available? I asked the clerk about this, and she had no idea about what I was talking about.

4: Do you know of any way to automate your tracking process? I purchased tracking for the boxes and physically received a little tag for each box. Than when I got home, I had to copy the 16 character tracking # for each shipment and Email it to the recipients. Surely there's a better way.

As I said, I'd like to give away and sell some more items, but I can't see repeating my Post Office experience. I've heard that UPS stores are not as frantic, and more helpful. But their shipping is more expensive and slower. The tracking is automated and better though.

So, does anyone have their USPS shipping set up where it's mostly, or all, automated, and there are no trips to the Post Office necessary?

PS: Do you guys really get a suit into an $8.90 flat rate box, and not stuff it into the box like a sausage?
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