Daily Savings — The Bubble Wrap Story

Helping to develop your savings habits, one nerdy story at a time.

In the turmoil that comes with helping my parents sell their house of 36 years, one of the most daunting tasks has been what to do with the seemingly infinite amount of knick knacks I keep discovering in every cabinet and drawer. I suppose this has become significantly LESS daunting since the creation of eBay, craigslist, Etsy, etc. However, it is still far from easy and/or convenient.

I have found myself using bubble wrap in exciting new ways. No longer is it used as a therapeutic stress reliever, annoying noise machine or body armor for wrestling matches. Instead, I have discovered an alternative use for my bubbly friends which, it turns out (according to the label), is actually it’s intended purpose. Wrapping items that are susceptible to damage when moving or shipping. Genius.

While the home may have an unlimited amount of knick knacks, we are decidedly lacking in the bubble wrap department. Most of what I could find was rendered unusable due to a stressful exam schedule back in college, which left no bubble un-popped. So I struck out in search of some fresh wrap, suppressing every urge to stomp every last breath of air out of it.

As I always do when shopping for a somewhat generic item that I have no concept of price or availability, I did a quick online search across a number of seemingly appropriate stores: UPS, Post Office, Target, Walmart & Home Depot.

The first two yielded results that seemed excessive, which considering the nature of the establishments, wasn’t too far outside of expectations when it comes to screwing over customers. $30 for 75 feet. I have learned through the years that when shopping for more common household items, the more “specialized” the store, the more “screwed” you get.

Next, I moved on to some usual suspects for household items, Target and Walmart. Being the good Minnesotan I am, Target was the obvious first choice, and while I am loyal to the brand, the selection in this particular department was lacking at best. $10 for 25 feet and only a couple options. My conclusion is that these stores are less in the “office supply” and more in the “everything else related to your life” business. A bit surprised, but not defeated.

Last, I did a quick search at the mammoth home store, Home Depot. While I usually consider this an option for actual home items and not really to be a “home office” specialist, I made the shocking discovery that they did, in fact, have bubble wrap, and with a wide variety of options! I had overlooked the “moving supplies” aspect of the category of “Home”. Ironic, as that was exactly what I was using this for. Common sense — 1, Me — 0. I discovered the perfect roll, at the incredible (comparatively speaking) price of $13 for 75 feet. I won’t get into the details of how long it took me to decide on this option vs the “buying in bulk” option at $20 for 125 feet, but just before closing time, I made my decision. “I can always come back and get more, and that 125 foot roll looks daunting”.

All in all, with an extra 15 minutes of effort (UPS Store, Target and Home Depot are all within 1 mile of each other where I live), I saved $17 against both The UPS Store and Target.

Moral: In this day and age, technology makes it incredibly easy to comparison shop. Do a quick scan of the usual suspects and be skeptical of the stores that specialize. Don’t worry, The UPS Store doesn’t count as a “mom and pop” store, so you don’t need to feel bad about going to Home Depot. They’re both ruining your community, so you might as well save some money in the end.