Friday, November 14, 2014

Cute and Cheap Etsy Packaging - Creating and Stocking a Shipping Station and Essential Supplies You Will Need

A long while back I wrote a post about finding and creating cute and cheap packaging for my vintage store on Etsy, Anthropolotique.  Since then I've found new ways that looks cuter, are more efficient and are still cheap!   In the past 8 years that I've been selling on Etsy, Ebay and even Instagram (for a bit) I've made many mistakes and have learned ways to simplify my workflow, save time and money and now I'm creating a short blog series about what I've learned. If you are a new seller on Etsy or are looking for ways to improve your current systems I hope you will find this info helpful and save yourself some headaches!

In this first post I'm going to discuss having a shipping station and the basic supplies you should have on hand to get started.  Although I sell jewelry, shoes, purses and occasionally housewares, I'm going to focus mainly on shipping clothes.  However the info will be still be helpful even if you sell other types of goods.

First of all I highly recommend having a designated "shipping station".  This does not to be as fancy as you might think, my shipping station is a small kitchen cart that I picked up at a garage sale. I like it because I can do my shipping without bending over on the floor, it keeps all of my supplies in one organized space and I can close it up and it looks tidy.  If space or cost is an issue you should at least  put all of your supplies in a rubbermaid box and pull it out when it's time to ship and use your kitchen table as a work space.  Regardless of how much you are shipping right now doing this will prevent many headaches of needing to get a package out and not having the supplies you need or not being able to find what you need.

My "Shipping Station".  Bags and envelopes are organized on shelves inside and the drawer holds scissors, tape etc.  One of these day I plan on turning the side towel bar into a holder for a kraft paper roll or bubble wrap. 

Below I've listed what I consider to be essentials for shipping.  Some of these might not seem essential at the moment, but in later posts when I talk about organizing and workflow you will see how much time these "essentials" can save you.  I do all of my shipping through the United States Post Office and print all of my labels at home. Here is a big tip I wish I had done from the very beginning: Print you postage at home. Don't waste time waiting in line at the post office, it is quite simple if you have the right materials to do everything at home.  Also when you print the labels online through Etsy (or paypal, Ebay or even you get a discount on the postage and tracking is automatically added to your customers order! Customers LOVE tracking and you should too.   Save time and money and print labels at home.

Here is what I recommend having on hand for shipping:

1. Clear Garment Bags  -  They come in a variety of sizes. I find that the 9 x 12 inch ones work great for most clothes. I just recently started purchasing larger sizes for sweaters and coats but if you don't sell a lot of those items you can always invest in those later.  I'll get more into this in another post but these are essential for keeping you organized and your merchandise clean.

2. Poly Mailers -  They are lightweight, durable, waterproof and cheap! These are great for shipping lightweight items and for shipping international. I love that you need NO shipping/packaging tape. Just peel and stick.  I mostly use the 13.5 x 10 inch ones but I also have a couple of larger ones on hand for shipping coats and bulkier items.

3. Shipping labels - I buy the sheets with 2 labels on them and it works great when you print your labels through Etsy, PayPal or Ebay.  You might feel like you should just print on regular paper and use packaging tape to tape them on your packages.  Trust me and invest in some of these labels. First off, packaging tape isn't cheap and also if you are in a hurry to get your package out it will ALWAYS get tangled and make you angry....  I was so happy when I finally started using these labels. All you do is print, peel and stick.

* I purchase all of the above items on Etsy (good for your Etsy karma:-) and occasionally on Ebay *

4. Simple digital scale - If you are selling mostly clothes a simple little scale will be fine. If you are selling bigger items then you might consider getting a heftier scale. On the occasions when I have a big package to send I just go to the Post Office and let them handle it.

5. USPS Priority Mail Packaging - This will make your life so simple because like the USPS commercial says "If it fits, it ships"!  Go to your post office and get a couple of each of the following:
     - Flat Rate Envelopes - The flimsy cardboard ones, get mostly Priority Mail ones but good to have
                                           one or two Express Mail envelopes just in case)
     - Priority Mail Tyvex Envelope - These are not Flat Rate so I hardly use them but since they are
                                                         FREE you might as well have a couple on hand just in case.
     - Medium Flat Rate Box I prefer the long rectangular one of the square one because it's peel and    
                                              stick but get some of both.
     - Large Flat Rate Box - I rarely use these but get one or two just in case.

6.  USPS Flat Rate PADDED Envelopes - I didn't include this above because for some reason you can't get them at your local post office.  However, these are my favorite!!  To get these you have to create an account at and order them here for free. Do it though, they fit way more then you can fit in a cardboard flat rate envelope and it's only about 75 cents more. I put sweaters and even shoes in these sometimes.

7.  Tissue Paper - Not necessarily an essential...  I used to use tissue paper all of the time but found that when mailing in the polymailer envelopes that the tissue would wrinkle on transporation and the presentation wasn't as nice when it arrived to the customer.  However I do use it for items shipped in boxes and if I'm doing gift wrapping for a customer so it's good to have on hand.   The cheapest I have found tissue paper is at Costco around Christmas time (I think it's about $5 for 400 sheets), I always buy a pack or two.

8. Bubble Wrap - Not essential for shipping clothes but if you are selling purses, shoes or jewelry you should have some on hand.  I stock up on this during the summer when Home Depot is selling it to people moving and it's relatively inexpensive.

9. Other stuff you should include is measuring tape, scissors, basic tape, clear packing tape, business cards and other cute packaging material

10.  And last but not least you NEED a printer but I hope you already knew that:-) If you already  Get one that can be set to print "grayscale" and has a separate cartridge for black ink if you are  in the market to get a new printer.   This will save you money on ink which is another expense like packaging tape that will add up quicker than you think.

Left going clockwise: the gray poly mailer, clear garment bag with
foldover top, small digital scale, shipping labels

Left to right: Flat Rate Padded Evelope (a must!), Plain Flat Rate Envelope, Express Mail Envelope

Let me know if I missed anything that you this is "essential". I'm always looking to simplify and save money!



  1. Thanks, this is very helpful! :)
    Where did you get the teal and white envelopes btw? They are super cute!

    1. Thanks for the feedback:-) I got the envelopes at Michaels on clearance a long while back. They usually have a good selection there. Hope that helps.