Where can I buy cheap boxes of multiple sizes?
January 10, 2009 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Comic and card boxes seem to get listed cheaply, then have absurd shipping charges. I could use shoe boxes, shipping boxes, office boxes, whatever - I just want to know how to get them cheaply.

I can buy a 50 lbs car part and get shipping for $20. But I try to buy 20 lbs of cardboard boxes, and shipping is $50 (I assume they're making up for cheap prices by gouging on shipping). I've also seen online stores where shipping is cheap and the boxes are expensive.

Either way, it just seems like a lot of money to spend on cardboard boxes...

What I need are a few different size boxes for storage, but lots of them. I don't really need anything bigger than 24x12x12 (the standard Office-Max/Depot $17 for 5 kit). But I also need some smaller ones. I don't need anything smaller than 6x6x6.

My goal is to organize my life by storing a lot of my bits, pieces, odds, ends, and parts in labeled boxes. I don't really care what the boxes are made of, as long as I can slap a label on them and stack them in shelves. (I have the shelves, so I'm not really interested in building a storage system with drawers and such.)

Comic and card boxes would actually be ideal, but I can't find anywhere to get them at what I think is a reasonable price. Am I doomed to spend way too much on what should be cheap, recyclable products, or is there a solution I haven't found yet?

For what it's worth, I'm in Las Vegas, and willing to drive around the valley if there's a store I haven't heard of yet. (I've checked the big name stores - all over priced.)
posted by krisak to Shopping (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Check out the Post Office. They have boxes for priority shipping that are free. They have several sizes. It might be worth a look to see if they fit your needs.
posted by JayRwv at 7:19 PM on January 10, 2009

Costco used to have a "Moving Kit" or somesuch that was little more than a large package of assorted size boxes. It was fairly reasonably priced.

Personally? I get all my boxes from the liquor store. They seem to be the best bet as far as free, sturdy boxes. As an added bonus, the various sizes and shapes that booze bottles come in means that there are all sorts of dividers of various sizes and various levels of customization. If you want them all to look nicer than liquor boxes, then use some non-holiday wrapping paper or newspaper to class them up a bit.

Another idea is to ask anyone you know in an office setting to save some of the boxes paper comes in. They're also pretty sturdy and fairly comparable to comic storage type boxes. Most offices go through a crapload of these.
posted by piedmont at 7:25 PM on January 10, 2009

Have you thought about using Rubbermaid? After a few moves we now store everything in them. They come in all shapes and sizes, can be found at any Wal-Mart or Target, and are waterproof.
posted by sanka at 7:42 PM on January 10, 2009

I don't know what you consider cheap, but if you Google "moving boxes free shipping" you'll find plenty of sites to choose from.

Personally I would hit up bookstores, as their boxes need to be strong and stackable to contain large volumes of heavy printed matter.
posted by calistasm at 7:42 PM on January 10, 2009

Make friends with someone who works in retail or shipping/receiving.
posted by jschu at 8:26 PM on January 10, 2009

Response by poster: sanka - I wouldn't mind rubbermaid, the issue is price. I'm looking for a lot of cheap boxes. If I could find RM and plentiful, I would.

calistasm - thanks, that's a search I hadn't done before. I may buy the 20 for $43 kit, as I can cut them down to size.

JayRwv - Good idea. I'll head down to one on Monday and see what they have.

piedmont - Good thought - I'll check out Costco tomorrow if I can make it through the crowds.

Hmm... jschu (and anyone else that suggested scavenging from retail/office) has a good idea. I'll start scouring my office building on Monday.
posted by krisak at 8:40 PM on January 10, 2009

U-haul. They have lots of relatively inexpensive boxes. That's where I usually go when I need lots of boxes of all sizes.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:01 PM on January 10, 2009

Ask a local print shop (Kinko's, etc) what they do with all the boxes the paper is shipped in. Liquor stores also go through lots of boxes. Or any place with a busy loading dock: I used to get boxes from the local hospital, the hard part is getting them before they're flattened.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:06 PM on January 10, 2009

I saw the large rubbermaid containers with lids on sale at Lowe's the other day for $3.00 each. Also, I have seen a remarkable amount of sizes of plastic bins and boxes at Walmart very, very inexpensively. Like, $1.50 for smaller ones and some of the larger/odd sizes (like sweater boxes or under the bed boxes) for under $6. At their prices, it's almost as cheap as a cardboard box but is very likely much more durable. This is also a really good time to be looking around hardware stores and such for storage boxes because all the after Xmas storage is going on sale. Stores put out boxes for people to pack away ornaments and larger decorations right about now.
posted by theantikitty at 9:10 PM on January 10, 2009

as for the post office boxes, you don't even need to go to the post office, you can order them online and they are shipped to you for free :)
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 9:14 PM on January 10, 2009

Response by poster: Wow... Katrina who isn't wins, even though I feel pretty sleazy now...

After I've got everything stored, I'm going to send a few empty envelopes via priority mail.
posted by krisak at 9:31 PM on January 10, 2009

Note that the priority shipping boxes can only be used for priority shipping. If that wasn't obvious.
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:33 PM on January 10, 2009

I like to store comics in your standard A4/letter printer paper boxes - the kind that are lying around any office.

They're just the right size for your standard modern comic, and are easy to stack and organise.

Plus, since they'd just be going into the trash/recycling anyway, people don't complain when you take them home.

(If they're empty. People do tend to complain when you take them home full of paper.)
posted by Katemonkey at 1:18 AM on January 11, 2009

Yeah, please don't use the "free" post office boxes for your home organization needs. That's just wrong.
posted by unclejeffy at 4:32 AM on January 11, 2009

Fetpak - low price, gets lower with quantities, they ship for free.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:31 AM on January 11, 2009

From the USPS website:

"The terms of Agreement for the use of United States Postal Service shipping supplies is as follows: I understand that Express Mail service, Priority Mail service, Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International and Priority Mail International packaging is the property of the United States Postal Service and is provided solely for sending Express Mail, Priority Mail, Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International and Priority Mail International. Misuse may be a violation of federal law."
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:05 AM on January 11, 2009

Freecycle.org ALWAYS has people trying to unload their moving boxes. All you have to do is pick them up and then construct again at your home. People usually will break them down already and just want to see them gone.

If you need them unbroken I am sure you could tell the person not to prior to pick up.

I know that I had a few hundred moving boxes of all sizes on my last move and these were professional moving boxes so quality was high.
posted by jadepearl at 7:11 AM on January 11, 2009

Go to a grocery store and ask if you can have their empty wine boxes. They're a perfect size for packing away books and knickknacks.
posted by EarBucket at 7:43 AM on January 11, 2009

You need to find your local box district. No, really, a number of cities I've lived in have had a bunch of box stores piled into one low-rent district. Here's, for example, Box Brothers. Search the Yellow Pages for 'cardboard box' and find out where small businesses get their boxes; you'll be in box heaven.
posted by kmennie at 9:00 AM on January 11, 2009

Response by poster: In retrospect, yeah, the USPS boxes will get used for shipping out the tons of comics/cards I'll be selling as I get this pile of stuff organized.

I'll swing by Box Brothers on Monday and see if they have what I'm looking for.
posted by krisak at 9:27 AM on January 11, 2009

Beyond the ethical concerns, you'll find the USPS priority boxes are totally impractical for storage, they're just not the right shape/size. Not really a great idea.
posted by the bricabrac man at 10:31 AM on January 11, 2009

The reason shipping a bunch of card boxes is expensive, is probably because they are considered oversized when collapsed flat.

Uline is my source for al things shipping related. They aren't necessarily the cheapest, but they are good quality boxes and they have pretty much any size you might want. Be warned, their default shipping agency is likely a trucking company. This might make delivery to a home when no one is there difficult.
posted by fief at 11:55 AM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

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