Where to Find Packing Materials for Your eBay Items

By Marsha Collier

The place to start looking for packing material is the same place you should start looking for things to sell on eBay: your house. Consider saving all the bubble wrap, padding, and packing peanuts you get in the boxes when you order online.

Just empty the boxes of void fill and place it into large plastic trash bags — that way, they don’t take up much storage space. If you recently got a mail-order shipment box that was used only once — and it’s a good, sturdy box with no dents or dings — there’s nothing wrong with using it again. Just be sure to completely cover any old labels so the delivery company doesn’t get confused.

Beyond the ol’ homestead, here are a few other suggestions for places where you can rustle up some packing stuff for your beginning eBay sales:

Your local supermarket, department store, or drugstore: You won’t be the first person pleading with a store manager for boxes. (Ah, fond memories of moving days past.) Stores like giving them away because it saves them the work of compacting the boxes and putting them in the trash or recycling bin.

Drugstores and beauty-supply stores have a better variety of smaller boxes. But make sure you don’t take dirty boxes reeking of food smells.

The inside of your local supermarket, department store, or drugstore: Places like Kmart, Walmart, Target, and office-supply stores often have good selections of packing supplies.

Shippers such as UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service: These shippers offer all kinds of free supplies as long as you use these supplies to ship things with their service.

The Postal Service also ships free boxes, labels, and shipping forms for Express Mail, Priority Mail, and Global Priority Mail to your house. In the United States, you can order by phone (800-222-1811) or online. Here are a few rules for USPS orders:

  • Specify the service (Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, or Global Express Guaranteed) you’re using because the boxes and the labels all come with the service name printed all over them, and you can use them only for that specific service.
  • Order in bulk. For example, address labels come in rolls of 500 and boxes in packs of 25.
  • The boxes come flat, so you have to assemble them. Hey, don’t look a gift box in the mouth — they’re free!

eBay and online sellers: Many terrific eBay sellers are out to offer you really good deals. (You can’t beat eBay sellers for quality goods, low prices, and great service.) Check out the following online stores:

BubbleFAST — an eBay seller from the Chicago area — sells tons of reasonably priced bubble wrap, mailers, and lots of shipping accessories. Find them on eBay or on the website.

Uline is a great place to buy boxes for items that do not fit into free Priority Mail boxes. They have shipping boxes for almost any size package, and because they ship from several locations in the United States, the cost (and time) of shipping is kept to a minimum.

Take into account where these vendors are located. When you’re ordering a large shipment, the distance it has to travel from the vendor’s place to yours can tack on quite a bit of cash (and time) to your shipping costs!