Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

When the Ship Hits the Fan

Fuji's final question comes in the form of, well, a question.

Which method do you find best for shipping cards?

Fuji's final question is difficult to answer right now. Why? Because I'm in Japan. I have shipped exactly one package - to Fuji!
Unfortunately, with no real supplies on-hand right now, and not much experience shipping in the past six months, I can't offer much advice. But here's my ideal situation.
Of course, there are always PWE trades, and for those I love the semi-rigid holders. They seem to travel through the postal system much easier, and I don't think I've ever had problems. I don't like PWEs for purchases unless it's a cheap card with free or nearly-free shipping (like Sportlots).
For small trades, cards go in sleeves and rigid top-loaders, "sealed" with a small piece of scotch or blue tape (whatever's on-hand).
Anytime multiple top-loaders or cards without top-loaders are sent, I also use team bags.
For any shipment that doesn't include top-loaders on the outside of the team bags, I add "padding" cards - several extra cards just laying around or a couple of those thick dummy cards.
I then use 000 padded mailers, as the pack the cards in well without leaving room to wiggle around too much yet should be large enough for most stacks of cards to avoid corner dinging. For larger trades where there's more than a team bag or so of cards I use larger mailers.
However, now that I'm here in Japan, the best mailer seems to be the one I sent Fuji - about the size of a business envelope but padded. It can fit 2-3 team bags worth of cards, or several (smaller) packs of cards.
I tried to reuse the top-loaders in future trades while I lived in San Francisco, but I tended to use new sleeves, team bags, and envelopes. Here in Japan, everything's new since I don't have top-loaders. In fact, since top loaders are so expensive (all card supplies are pretty expensive - those cardboard boxes start well over 100 yen each), I'll probably find plastic inserts or other means to protect any more-valuable cards I ship back to the US.
I dislike excessive taping of packages. There's secure, and there's overkill! A package should be easy to open. Along those lines, scotch tape around top-loaders doesn't bother me too much, provided I can safely cut it with my scissors or pocket knife without damaging the cards. Sure, the tape can't be reused and the top-loader can't be used to display or attractively store the card, but at least the supplies can be used for future trades.  And along those lines, who decided it was necessary to tape every little edge of cardboard boxes? There's only one way to open cardboard card storage boxes, and a single piece of shipping tape across that edge will keep the box from opening on accident.

Those are my thoughts on shipping! I aim for secure but economical. On the receiving end, all I care about is sufficient effort being put out to be sure I get the cards in the same condition they were sent.


  1. I totally hate it when people excessively use tape too! Great post... thanks for participating.

  2. Another trick with the top loader in the PWE is to tape an index card about 1" down on the top loader so when you put it in the envelope it acts as a stabilizer and also can be used to write a thank you note :)

  3. Cory: Thanks for the comment. I have received some cards that way from sellers and traders, and I don't think I've had a problem. I've tried that as well, sometimes just using a couple sheets of copy paper (I always have plenty of that since I never seem to print anything). Two sheets folded into thirds (like a standard letter) with the top-loader taped to the papers in the middle. I've never had a complaint (that I remember?!) for anything I've mailed, so I think it's a pretty good alternative. I think the key with PWEs is to be sure the card is secure enough to prevent sliding/dinging/bending yet not be too brick-like in the envelope.