From Budget to White Glove: All About Shipping Large, Bulky Furniture

This is the scene: You've escaped to another city for the weekend, and decide to visit a local flea market. And blammo! You see it. The white unicorn of the furniture world. The holy grail of decor. An amazing vintage _____________ (insert name of coveted item here) that would work perfectly in your new apartment.

You cautiously lift the price tag and realize that it's only $50. Your elation quickly turns to dread because crap, how will you get it home? Your mental wheels start spinning: Is Uncle Bob still moving cousin Sheila across country next month, and will he swing by Tennessee to pick it up for you? Do you want to make a marathon drive next weekend to get it yourself? Will it even fit in the Prius? What to do, what to do…?

Here are several ways to get your new-found love back home, ranging from no frills hassle to white glove service.

$ Greyhound Package Xpress: Greyhound buses use their extra cargo space to ship cross country on a space available policy. You both drop off and pick up the item at bus stations on either end. If both Point A and Point B are businesses, you can pay a little bit more for door to door service. The maximum weight is 100 lbs and any one piece can't exceed 30" x 47" x 82". Once your piece has arrived, you'll have 72 hours to pick it up before they charge you a storage fee. Chances are good that Greyhound will be the cheapest by far, but it requires the extra step of getting a large, bulky item to and/or from the bus station.

$$ Basic Freight Service: Freight companies provide door-to-door service and there are no size or weight limits. When the piece arrives, you also might have to unload it yourself with the help of some very kind friends. The downside of this method is that it can sometimes take months for your item to be picked up for delivery. If you aren't in a rush, can't pick the item up at the local bus station, but still want to save a few bucks, this might be an option for you.

$$$ White Glove Service: If you aren't in a schlepping mood, most companies also offer better service options. The ultimate experience is them packing it up on one end, then unpacking and assembling for you on the other end. It's no surprise that this can be more expensive. If you are in a rush, and money's not a factor, use this service.

Ask questions and make sure you know what you are getting with your quote. My two favorites are: "Do I have to pack this, or do you?" and "Is there a way to send this less expensively?"

Sample Quotes

I used uShip to compile a few quotes from actual companies, just to give you an idea.

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Shipment #1 Information

Item: Antique Tuba Trunk
From: Saint Louis, MO 63118
To: Houston, TX 77057
Distance: 840 miles
Dimensions: 27" H x 32" W x 44" L.
Weight: 110 lbs.

Shipment #1 Quotes

Greyhound: Not possible for items over 100 lbs.
Freight Company (No Frills): $230
Freight Company (White Glove): $306

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Shipment #2 Information

Item: Rattan Chair
From: Saint Louis, MO 63118
To: St. Petersburg, FL 33715
Distance: 1043 miles
Dimensions: 30" x 30" x 25"
Weight: 35 lbs.

Shipment #2 Quotes

Greyhound: $53.20
Freight Company (No Frills): $124
Freight Company (White Glove): $306

(Images: Dabney Frake)

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When Dabney's not writing around here, she's digging through other people's attics for fun and interesting stuff, or running around with her bloodhound Friday. Originally from the East Coast, she's still shocked to find herself living in Missouri.