Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Supplies in demand

I got mail this weekend from Gentle Giant - a nice FAQ booklet with moving preparation tips. These guys rock. My favorite line was something like 'you can color code boxes so the movers know which room to put them in.' Aha. Well guys, you can put that in, umm, the only room.

The packing tips section was especially interesting to me...oh yeah, I might need boxes at some point. And tape. And bubble wrap. And a Sharpie to label everything with. I read somewhere that movers appreciate boxes of about equal size when possible for easier stacking in the truck. I've done so much research that everything is starting to blur together. My moving estimate included boxes, but when I emailed my rep to talk about it I discovered those boxes were for day-of packing if needed. Not helpful now. I'd have to find boxes somewhere else.

A Google search for 'moving boxes' turned up some wholesalers and a U-Haul link. Ah, U-Haul. I've had one decent and one horrible experience with them. Their box prices looked cheap though, so I decided to give it a shot.

U-Haul leases its name to local franchises, so I hit up the franchise in my town first. When I arrived, I saw that they had several packages to choose from. I started by asking the guy behind the counter for a moving box package recommendation which was a mistake. He had to ask his coworker, who asked the manager. The service was slow. Finally I made the decision for them only to find out they were out of one of the box sizes. They offered to substitute a bigger, more expensive box. I left empty-handed.

Next stop: UPS store. There are three in my town but one has been particularly helpful with my eBay mailings so I hit that branch. They also had multiple moving box packages which were wisely named things like 'studio,' '1BR apartment' and so on. But the packages were not cheap - about $45 for the studio package. It included one closet box (hanging storage for clothes), five large boxes, five medium boxes, two kitchen boxes and two linen boxes, plus a roll of tape and a 3-foot roll of bubble wrap. Or maybe that is cheap, I have no frame of reference here. The last two times I moved, I just went to Bed Bath and Beyond and Costco and grabbed from the box piles. Cost: free. I told my UPS guys I'd think about it and left.

I decided to do some begging and box cruising. I hit Costco first, but the pickings were slim. I keep forgetting that it's almost back-to-school time, so college kids and their parents had picked over the piles. Also, the fall is the second most popular moving season behind spring. I had been beaten to the punch.

So my next option was hitting the houseware stores, liquor stores and groceries. You have two options when getting boxes from stores: you can Dumpster dive, or you can politely ask the shipping clerks if they'll set aside boxes for you. I always try the latter first. I went to Linens N Things and Bed Bath and Beyond. Linens N Things asked me to come back at 9 the next morning...no good, I have to work. Bed Bath and Beyond had a waiting list for boxes. I signed up, but I was about the 10th name in line. Also not very promising.

A couple of the town liquor stores offered me some smaller boxes, which I took. They would be good for the random stuff. Finally, I stopped by four groceries. Each said basically the same thing - come back at 7 AM during the week or 6:30 AM on the weekends, and the boxes go fast from June - September. I'm not surprised. I made a mental note to come back on Saturday.

My friends gave me two additional recommendations: Craigslist (they really do have everything) and Boomerang Boxes. I checked both out but the idea of spending money on boxes seems so weird to me. I guess I am being pretty cheap about this.

In the end I lucked out. My aunt had just moved and offered to give me her boxes. These boxes rock - heavy duty, with UPS printed on the side. That was perfect because I was worried they would have the movers' name printed on them, which my moving company might not like. Even better, they shut in such a way that no tape is needed. I only need about 10 boxes but my aunt gave me 20. I'm set.

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