Online shoppers in the 808, the 49th state and points beyond who use Missouri-based Ship & Save to save on shipping purchases will notice a bit of a change after July 1.
The company has changed hands.
It was established by Shelly Bansberg in 2008 after a trip to Hawaii. A job transfer necessitated that she turn the reins over to her mother, Sharon Garretson, in 2009.
Garretson, a retired minister, nurtured and grew the business but longed to retire for real. She set out to find a buyer in January and entertained offers and looked for good fits, but feared she would have to make good on her intention to shutter the business on May 31.
As often happens, at the eleventh hour a buyer was found right around the corner — sort of.
New Ship & Save owner Carol Simpson is a co-worker of Garretson’s daughter, the company founder — and is a teacher at a St. Louis-area middle school.
"Everything should be completely over to me by July 1," Simpson said. She had wanted to start an Internet-based business, and she can be home early enough in the day to manage the business. She hopes to get the service linked up with e-commerce sites to give Hawaii and Alaska residents who visit those sites a one-click way to get purchases sent through Ship & Save to their homes.
Simpson plans to send emails and regular mail to customers to introduce herself.
As for Garretson, "I’ll be having fun in retirement. Now I can take off and go someplace with my husband," she said, her smile audible.
Ship & Save is one of a few businesses established to help residents of Hawaii, Alaska and other places save money on shipping of online purchases. Many e-tailers offer free or low-cost shipping to the contiguous mainland states while charging the ever-popular arm/leg/firstborn for shipping to Hawaii and Alaska, not to mention Guam or Puerto Rico.
Ship & Save and Colorado-based AlohaForwarding.com save customers money by accepting parcels on their behalf and forwarding them via the U.S. Postal Service for a small fee. The fees still enable customers to save as much as 40 percent or 50 percent on shipping costs. Neither charges a membership fee.
Former Hawaii resident Darrell Houghton established AlohaForwarding.com after moving to Colorado and remembering painfully high prices for shipping items to his earlier isle home.
"Business is booming," he said. He now has nearly 1,500 members in Hawaii, Alaska, U.S. territories and "several countries around the world."
Business from Guam has been surprisingly good. "We probably ship twice as many packages a week to Guam as we do to Hawaii and Alaska combined. We’ve also seen a jump in membership of military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq, which we’re very proud about."
AlohaForwarding.com also has begun offering a consolidation service for its customers, something Ship & Save also does, to spare customers the need to pay postage on multiple packages. "We recently consolidated three packages into one flat-rate box and saved one member over $60," Houghton said. He also offers an automatic forwarding option to frequent buyers.
Using a paid membership model, ShipToHawaii.com and sister company ShipToAlaska.com provide a similar service through via air- or ocean-freight consolidation. Basic consumer membership is $20 a year and allows a member to ship up to 600 pounds of goods; the small business or hobbyist rate of $75 allows shipping of up to 1,200 pounds a year and the $150 large business membership allows for a year of unlimited shipping.
Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by email at email@example.com.