With the holiday season in full swing, local shipping companies advise gift-shipping customers to keep an eye on the calendar and invest in packaging to ensure a cost-effective, safe delivery.
The week before Christmas is traditionally the busiest time period, said Christine Coughlin, who owns US 30 Postal Express between Valparaiso and Merrillville along with other family members.
“We’re entering into the shipping season as everyone has been busy buying, then they have to wrap gifts and shipping is the last thing they do,” said Matt Ellis, owner of the Valparaiso UPS store at Cumberland Crossing. “We gradually pick up heading into the last full week before Christmas. Our busiest day will be that Monday, Dec. 17.”
Coughlin said customers should be aware of deadlines to guarantee Christmas delivery.
“The easiest way to save money is to ship early. Customers can also call for a free quote or advice on the most cost-effective shipment option,” she said.
Ellis said with Christmas occurring during the week, his customers will have a window before the holiday to send packages but by shipping earlier they will avoid fees to upgrade to quick service.
Heading into his 20th Christmas, he advises shippers to strive to send packages either between 8 and 10 a.m. or 2 and 4 p.m. as those are traditionally slower times during the final week before the holiday.
Proper packaging is also important to the shipping process.
“It’s always best to have a new box and new bubble-wrap or peanuts,” said David Benante, owner of Highland Pack & Parcel. “Have items ready to go as much as possible and if you are unsure, leave it to the packing professionals.”
“Packages that are rectangular are less expensive to ship than odd-shaped packages,” Coughlin said. “Avoid re-using boxes as they lose structural integrity and could cause damage to content.”
Ellis said packages are not in human hands during 90 percent of the process, spending more time on a conveyor system and stacked during transport. Fragile items especially need to be packed properly to ensure a safe arrival.
“All employees are certified and trained by UPS to guarantee we know how to package items properly to go through our system,” he said.
Working hands-on in the business has offered a close-up look into the world of shipping and exposure to a range of unique items.
Benante said his company has had the opportunity to send a lot of vintage motorcycle parts to Europe.
Ellis helped bring a new experience to a customer’s family.
“I helped a grandfather ship snowballs to his grandkids in Texas. We got them there all intact so they had snowballs for Christmas,” he said.
Coughlin has been up-close and personal with the world of taxidermy and real stuffed animals.
“Bubble-wrapping a raccoon was my strangest shipping moment.”