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TheStrider’s Shipping Guide 2021

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Hey guys, I’m here to talk about the methods I use for shipping. There are tons of guides out there, but all of them seem to suggest something I disagree with. Just as I’m sure others will disagree with some my methods.

I can regularly be found on Facebook, Discord and PucaTrade buying, selling and trading cards.

I’ve been trading daily on PucaTrade since 2015, and in 2019 I joined the MTGPrice.com ProTrader service. I’ve been playing consistently since Fall of 1994, my preferred formats are Draft and multiplayer casual Commander.

While I’m a small dog when compared to many in the card shipping industry, I’ve been selling cards consistently for the better part of the last 10 years. In my time, I’ve never (to my knowledge) had a card arrived damaged due to shipping methods. As with anyone, some envelopes disappear into postal abyss never to arrive. Nothing can stop a post office from dropping a cinder block on your envelope! (Been there…)

Please note that I am Canadian, so if your country has different thicknesses or weight allowances, you may need to adapt.

Supplies
A bit about supplies. I store all my shipping supplies in a fat pack box. 
Inside that I keep:

  • Toploaders (of varying sizes)
  • Standard Game Sleeves
  • Penny Sleeves
  • Perfect Fit Sleeves
  • Team Bags
  • Address Labels (I get mine through Vistaprint)

  • Stamps (Canada, US, International)
  • Sticky Note Pad
  • Air Mail Stickers (Canada)

Additionally, I have:

  • Standard Scotch Tape (Cellophane Tape)
  • Masking Tape
  • No 8 Envelopes
  • No 10 Envelopes 

Protecting The Asset
First, I’ll talk on how to load cards. I use perfect fit sleeves for cards of real value. What value that is up to you ultimately. For me it also depends on how many cards are going in the envelope.

Card goes top side first into the pro-fit. Now the card, when placed in a playing sleeve or penny sleeve, the unprotected end is protected.  

Next the sleeve goes into a toploader open side first.

Notice the order? If water were to infiltrate the envelope, it must go through 3 sets of sleeves to get at an open edge. Four if you use a team bag.

Now, keeping a card stable inside the toploader can be achieved a few different ways. Depending on the number of cards you are putting in the toploader, if the sleeve is loose inside, add a bulk common or ad card to bulk it up so it’s “the right amount” so it isn’t sliding around.

Myself, and especially since COVID hit, I prefer to ship the toploader in a team bag. This way the card package is protected further against weather. It guarantees that the card will not leave the toploader.

If you don’t want to use team bags, I recommend one of two methods. I prefer using a square sticky note, folded such that the sticky part seals both sides and covers the top. 


  
If you INSIST on using tape to close the top of the toploader, PLEASE use masking tape. It’s easier for the customer to remove. Bonus points for making convenience pulls for easy removal. At all costs make sure any open sleeves are not pointed at the exposed tape.

I do not recommend using scotch tape. I do not recommend sealing the top. If you care about making it weatherproof, use a team bag. I absolutely HATE having to get a knife out to cut my way into a package.

Packing the Envelope
I’ve noted in the last two years an increase in those people who will tape the toploader to the inside of the envelope. This is nearly rage inducing to me. Often between the sticky scotch tape used and being attached to the envelope, I end up destroying the envelope to get in. This is not a good customer experience!

There is a better and easier way. Take a piece of standard 8.5”x11” paper and fold it to match the size of your envelope. If you are using a #8 envelope, cut the excess paper away to reduce your overall weight. If you are shipping in a #10 envelope, just fold into 3.

Now take your cards and use masking tape to tape it to the inside of the paper fold. 


   


This does several things for you.

It makes it so when the customer can open the envelope with a letter opener. Once open, they can remove the contents without a struggle.

One of the leading causes of lost or damaged card mail is the toploader catching in the sorting machines. This usually occurs when the toploader shifts while sorting and catches an edge. Taping the toploader to the paper makes it impossible for the toploader to move around inside the envelope and adds a layer of protection around the edges of the toploader.

Once you’ve sealed the envelope, I use scotch tape (yes, we finally found a good use for it) to seal the corners of the flaps so they don’t catch and rip open.

Other Cases & Tips
If you have too many cards for the toploader in question, put the expensive ones IN the toploader, then the rest in a penny sleeve. Put both in the team bag.

If you have too many cards that you’d be pushing the thickness of a letter mail (10 + toploader is my typical limit) then I make up two stacks and use a #10 envelope. I often send 20 cards using this method on a standard stamp. 


 
The third method, mostly for sending bulk is to use a cut up sheet from a 9-card binder page. Just as before, ensure you put the open end of the penny sleeve into the binder sleeve. I’ve seen upwards of 30 cards in one envelope before, and the rigidity of the stack typically protects the contents. Make sure the more expensive cards are in the middle of the stack, just in case!
 


I hope the methods outlined here help others towards more reliable shipments.

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