…building a business: shipping wars

What is the worst thing about owning your own business? Shipping! (Taxes are very close second!)

Shipping is awful and there’s no other way around it. Shipping furniture state to state is even more awful. The best way I’ve found to do it is via USHIP. Yes, there is a show called “Shipping Wars” that shows some of the antics that can come from shipping this way and I seriously should be on it!

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It is a quick learning curve when using services like USHIP. You list what you have for sale and shippers bid on your job. I’ve shipped all over the country this way. My first shipping experience was getting a mirror to CA. That was three years ago. Since then I’ve shipped furniture all up and down the East Coast, making contacts with shippers and learning the ropes. Like how to barter with shippers, scheduling, tracking and all the wrapping details involved. Some of these guys & gals are serious pros and they are the best ones to work with.

This dining set was my first super large shipment.

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Location. A quick lesson that you will learn is that your location and drop off locations are the number one most essential detail. I will receive between 6-8 bids if shipping along the East Coast and can then select the right shipper based on their star rating, schedule and price.

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I must share a recent, upsetting experience that I had with an Etsy customer. She lived in a town in the mid-west that was obviously not a place where truckers frequent. I listed her bid for some chairs 3 times and was receiving bids of ridiculous numbers like $700 for delivery. They were great chairs, but no one is going to pay that! To make a long story short, she was really, really fuming when I told her that I can’t sell what I can’t ship. Yes, there are alternatives out there like Greyhound and UPS, but they can be even more expensive and laborious…and well, I just don’t use them. Period. Imagine me driving downtown to the Greyhound station every time I wanted to ship something with my 3 kids & carseats in the back? I need a Xanex just thinking about it.

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Payment. If you are shipping your product and it’s large enough that you need to acqure bids on it, you better have a good product because this is what is going to scare away a customer. They have to want it bad enough and know that it’s one of a kind to pay shipping fees that are not set in stone. For example, I have been hunting for a great vintage Wolf dress form for FOREVER. I finally found one being sold in MA.

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So, I listed the job on USHIP and was only given 2 bids. Be aware that if you want to ship or pick up from a town that is not frequented, it’s going to be much more expensive and much harder to negotiate a good bid. I accepted a higher bid because it was really my only option. I factored it in with my dress form budget and all worked out well. Actually, a sweet couple looking to make some cash delivered it to me! Albeit 11:30 at night when my husband was in Hong Kong. Imagine this young couple taking a lady’s dress form out of the trunk in the dead of night? Like I said, I should be on the show.

If you plan on shipping your product be aware of the restrictions & pitfalls. It’s a frustrating process, but you can make it work if you understand the rules that apply.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I really like the artwork hanging over the bench. Did you paint this or do you know who did and where I might find something like that?

  2. Hi Christen –

    I wanted to thank you for posting this info about shipping. Am starting my own business and dreading shipping a piece, it honestly keeps me up at night! Groan….

  3. Shipping is what I fear the most!

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