Furniture, Direct To Your Front Door
March 12, 2015 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Wifey and I sell on Etsy, and we're getting into small pieces of furniture -- but they're not "small" by UPS and USPS standards; the post office won't even take them for being too big, and UPS wants $200+ based on size. Do any of you know how best to ship a piece of furniture, delivered to a person's front door?

Greyhound seems to be what most people suggest, and they are about 1/2 the cost of UPS, but that doesn't include a 'last mile' component: the customer has to pick it up. Plus, we're not very familiar with how that works, and how careful they're going to treat our shipments. Adding to the confusion is that people are selling identical items on Etsy for $30 shipping -- they can't really be eating $170 in shipping costs, are they? Has anyone here shipped something big, and how'd you do it?
posted by AzraelBrown to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Freight companies handle larger items. But I'd be surprised if you can do it for $30 (though I'm far from an expert). Can you afford to buy one of your competitors' items to see how they end up shipping it to you? Or at least send them an email and ask?
posted by primethyme at 6:32 AM on March 12, 2015


Ask someone here (I would do it, but I assume you want someone in the US) to email a competitor and ask how the items are shipped. It would probably be a little weird for you to do it yourself.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:37 AM on March 12, 2015


Short Answer: Greyhound or LTL. Preferably for very large pieces we prefer having the buyer arrange their own transport.

Honestly I don't know how anyone is shipping anything of size cross-country for $30. I mean I can ship a piece cross country for around that price for work, but at that point we're sending entire trucks. I have to imagine that some of the shipping has to be built into the price.

My wife and I have buy and sell vintage furniture on eBay and Etsy. Arranging shipping is the biggest pain in the ass in the entire process. We really, really prefer to have the buyer arrange their own shipping for this reason. If that's something you don't want to do, I would then default to Greyhound for medium sized items, and then for very large items I would bid out the freight on uShip.
posted by nulledge at 6:41 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you are worried about Greyhound treatment, I bought some neon signs a few years ago from different places which are very fragile packages. One seller would only ship Greyhound and it was the only package that did not come with some broken glass or "distressed" packaging. At the time the drivers would put the packages in a separate cargo bay than the passengers use and it was locked. I think you needed ID or a code to pick it up at the station. It may be different now. Picking it up was a pain but much preferred to having my stuff jammed in to a delivery truck. YMMV.

You might check if there is a shipping store in your area. they might have a solution for you. It might help if you let us know some typical measurements and weights.
posted by Yorrick at 7:08 AM on March 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have actually bought pieces of furniture from Etsy that were shipped via Greyhound and had a great experience.
posted by Spurious at 7:12 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that the other Etsy stores are artificially suppressing the cost of shipping and building the real cost into the price of the item?
posted by almostmanda at 7:33 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Adding to the confusion is that people are selling identical items on Etsy for $30 shipping

Identical? I thought Etsy was supposed to be for handcrafts and such. Anyhow, if these are mass-produced items then maybe the other sellers are having the items drop-shipped from regional warehouses rather than actually shipping anything cross-country.
posted by jon1270 at 7:35 AM on March 12, 2015


Identical? I thought Etsy was supposed to be for handcrafts and such. Anyhow, if these are mass-produced items then maybe the other sellers are having the items drop-shipped from regional warehouses rather than actually shipping anything cross-country.

Etsy has two main components: the hand-crafted stuff, and antiques (which, to make you feel old, is 1985 and older). Dropshipping is a good way to get yourself banned: it cannot be modern, mass-produced items.

We've got some midmod furniture that was common in the sixties and seventies, and I can find nearly identical items with a quick search (variations in seatcovers, stain, etc., but clearly the same manufacturer). But the combination of the sticker price and low shipping doesn't even cover what UPS charges sometimes.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:40 AM on March 12, 2015


Have you tried the etsy forums? I am also a seller and the people are so helpful there.
posted by harrietthespy at 8:18 AM on March 12, 2015


Vintage on Etsy is 20 years and older. So anything before 1996 is vintage according to the tiny children who work there. Now get off of my lawn.

I sell on Etsy too. I have sold some big/heavy things, like mannequins and midmod chairs and big bird cages. I use FedEx for most larger things. You can calculate prices on their website. It's pretty inexpensive. They will even pack for you, but of course that's extra. I buy large boxes at either U-Haul or Staples and sometimes have to make a new box out of two other boxes. I also have been known to root through the dumpsters behind strip mall stores to find great boxes for free. GNC always has fantastic boxes, for some reason.

As suggested above, other sellers may be working part of the shipping price into the item. Or it may be ignorance of the true cost of shipping, in which case they're in for a rude awakening!
posted by the webmistress at 8:20 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


LTL carriers handle this. You could try fed ex freight, ups freight, pitt ohio, yrc, new penn, old dominion, conway, etc. If the $30 shipping people aren't building the shipping into the cost of the item, I wouldn't be surpirsed if they are using local delivery services and just cancelling orders outside of a designated area around where the item is.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:11 AM on March 12, 2015


Is it possible that your competitors are disassembling the furniture for shipping? If it's small enough to be packed flat that might indicate why their shipping is so low.
posted by vignettist at 9:50 AM on March 12, 2015


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