Editor’s note: We get asked all the time about ordering from overseas. We don’t ship outside the United States, so we typically send people to one of the international specialty stores that carry our books and tools. But maybe you want something that they don’t carry, or won’t have for some time; there’s a solution. We asked our friend and long-time overseas customer Mattias to write about it. — Fitz
I’m in Belgium. I’m also a multiple return customer with Lost Art Press and Crucible Tool. And while all the LAP retailers in my neck of the woods are shops that I frequent, well, frequently, they don’t stock every LAP item. Some are not available to them for good reasons. Others they chose not to carry, again for good reasons. And sometimes I just can’t wait the month or so that it usually takes for a new item to get over here after it is released in the U.S. So I buy directly from LAP.
How is that possible, when LAP don’t do international shipping? Through a re-shipper or forwarding service or whatever you want to call it! This is a company in the States that, when you sign up with them, provides you with a valid postal address **in the U.S.**. You then give this as your delivery address when you order from LAP, and your goods are sent there. On arrival, your things are checked, declared for customs and forwarded to your home address. That’s it in a nutshell. Now for some more details.
First I should perhaps say that the forwarding company I use is one in Florida called MyUS. When I first decided to try this way of buying from Chris & Co., I asked around a bit – Klaus Skrudland, who should be familiar to readers of this blog, said he’d used them with success – and also did some general research with the help of Google. Based on this I decided to try MyUS, signed up with them, and put in my first order. It worked an absolute treat, and has continued to do so every time since, so for my part I’ve seen no need to look elsewhere. As they say, though, other options are available. So should you want to explore this possibility, you might want to spend some time with Google too, and shop around to see what would suit you, your wallet and your final destination the best. For my part I have been so happy with what I first went with that I’ve seen no need to check out the competition.
And just to be totally clear: My only affiliation with MyUS is as a contented customer. No sponsoring. No discount. No nothing. Nor, for that matter, from LAP, for writing this. And the only reason I mention MyUS by name is that they are what I know about from experience.
Back to our regular programming.
Are there no drawbacks, then? Well, yes. It is usually more expensive than buying from your local LAP retailer, and tends to take a bit longer, too.
The first reason that it is more expensive is that you pay postage twice, once from the LAP fulfillment center to the forwarding company, and again from them to you. The second reason is that in most places of the world, and certainly here in Europe, you will also be hit by customs clearance fees, customs and import duties, local sales tax (VAT) etc. (the latter often calculated not only on the value of the goods but also on the postage and duties too).
How much more expensive? Well, it varies of course. Here’s an example. Last year, I bought a Crucible Card Scraper, a Lump Hammer and two Iron Holdfasts. Costs for the goods was $240, and postage with UPS to Florida came in at $63.30 (the package weighed 14 lbs after all). I then paid MyUS $85.99 for shipping to Belgium with DHL Express and also $2.99 for insurance. On arrival, I was charged a further €82,75 ≈ $99 in fees, duties and taxes. Total cost: $491.28.
As for time, I put the above order in on February 25th 2020, it shipped on the 27th, arrived in Florida March 3rd, was turned around by MyUS the same day and finally delivered to me here in Belgium on March 5th 2020. And those timings are pretty typical in my experience.
If I were to buy the exact same things today from Rubank Verktygs AB in Stockholm, I would pay SEK 4095 ≈ $448 plus postage but no further fees or taxes, and I would expect to get my items in one or two days.
Depending on destination, MyUS offers a fairly large selection of different courier and freight companies for the onward delivery. I believe (although I cannot say for sure, as I have no real way to compare) that as large customers, they get very good rates with them. For my part I have always opted for DHL Express, as that company is fast and reliable to where I am, but there are less expensive options, and you might also want to consider which couriers have a good reputation where you live.
The MyUS basic service level, which is what I use, is free, but additional services are available for a monthly fee. I don’t use the service enough, though, to have found it worth the extra cost. But all of that one can find in full detail on their website, same as for their competitors. Google, and ye shall find! Read, and ye shall know!
It should also be noted that MyUS (and I assume the same will be true for the competition) will **always** open your package when it arrives at their premises in Florida. This is to make sure that the goods are OK, both to be exported from the U.S. *and* imported into your country, and to prepare the customs declaration. Again, all details are on the website. In any case, since last year, I have had a total of 29 packages from the U.S. forwarded to me through MyUS. Not all of them from LAP, mind, but in every case they have all been handled with due care and speed, opened and repackaged carefully and correctly, with turnaround times varying between 12 hours and three days, and postage between $36.98 and $92.37.
In conclusion, buying from your local retailers will (almost) always be the better deal, and they’re worth supporting too. But when the itch for the latest Lost Art Press or Crucible Tool offering becomes too much to bear, and you can’t get it locally (yet), well, as you now know, there **is** a way to have it scratched!
— Mattias Hallin
16 thoughts on “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean: A Way to Shop at Lost Art Press from Outside the U.S.”
When I was 12 years old (last month), we had our own versions of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. My favorite was:
My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,
My Bonnie Lies over the Sea,
My Daddy laid over my Mommy,
And that is how I came to be.
The trumpet player in a band here in Belgium that I used to play with had on his repertoire several vocal strains for “My Bonnie”, similarly concerned with parental procreational proclivities; none of them as good as this one, though, so I won’t quote them here. Not for reasons of crimes against propriety, mind you, but against scansion and rhyme.
Very interesting. In the UK – specifically here in Wales – taxes are added (VAT) and often exorbitant ‘collection’ fees from the delivery company.
However it’s worth pointing out that in the UK books, periodicals and printed matter are (exempt) zero-rated for VAT and import taxes.
I’ve used both a freight forwarder and direct shipping from a North American retailer to Australia. In both cases the cost was about the same – equal to the retail cost of the goods ( so, retail x 2 or $100 goods cost $200 landed). For Australia the better freight forwarders do all the paperwork and inspection, no sudden surprises or hidden fees (unlike UPS Australia where I have never had a pleasant experience in the past). Shopmate used to be my go to but the agreement between Australia Post & Singapore Post has expired and they are closing early 2022 – but Singapore Post is offering the same service rebranded as ‘VPost’ and its not just for US merchants, it also covers UK, Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.
This is a very pertinent remark, in that I think it fair to assume that if LAP had shipped outside the U.S. themselves, the costs to the buyer would have been as similar as to make no significant difference, compared with using a freight forwarder.
I, too, have bought straight from U.S. retailers when that has been an option, and have had similar experiences, except that over the last few years at least UPS Belgium have been quite efficient, consistent and reliable and on the whole, well, not unpleasant to deal with, strange as that may sound. (I had a very bad experience with UPS Australia some years ago, when sending a gift to friends in Tasmania, which is one of the reasons why I put in the phrase in my text about local courier reputation.)
In any case, the “more expensive” bit in my text was only meant in comparison to buying from a local (as in “within the same customs area”) LAP retailer.
Matthias, this is a great service to those overseas. Thank you! I had no idea that shipping overseas would end up so costly, though I should have guessed, considering that simply shipping one copy of “Shop Tails” to the U.K. costs around $40, excluding the cost of packaging products and the time to pack, then take a book to the Post Office. (No, I do not ship books any longer. I only know about this particular cost because I sent a book as a gift to someone in England.)
I agree that, if nothing else, it is indeed good for people to at least know that the option is there. I also entirely agree that cheap, it ain’t, and I perfectly understand that even if the possibility exists, the cost of it might still be prohibitive to some, a serious impediment to many and hurtful to anyone’s wallet (or at least its pride, by making it fork out over the odds), even when, like me, they can afford it.
On the other hand, I am a consenting adult, and free to spend my earnings as I see fit within the general bounds of the law and my own conscience. If I’m therefore sufficiently keen to get my mitts on something – say, “Shop Tails”, which I did indeed buy straight from LAP when it came out – and want it sooner rather than later, it’s my business how much I accept paying for that to happen.
That said, as general advice to LAP customers overseas, I’d say that books are probably where one’ll get the very worst deal, going through a forwarding service, compared to buying from a local retailer, not least because of the LAP price policy on books. So do your due diligence, balance the pros and cons by their relative weight to you, and then decide based on your own druthers.
Have you considered setting up a shop on Etsy? I know the Etsy clientele would adore goods like yours and international shipping is much easier. I only ship internationally because of Etsy handling everything.
You can also select the countries you will (or will not) ship to.
Lost Art Press books (and Crucible Tools) are carried by international retailers; we’re happy to send business their way. https://lostartpress.com/pages/international-customers (Reshipping is an option for those who want something not carried by them – clothing, for example.)
Does anyone know if there are similar services sending things TO the US?
yes, tons of them. Just Google something like ship from UK to US and you’ll get a ton of hits.
I often buy stuff in US and use MyMeest to ship those to Ukraine.
There’re 2 options there – sea and air. Air is usually 2x more expensive to sea, takes up to 2 weeks while sea usually takes between 3 and 5 weeks.
Only rarely I see costs above $30. For example, 35 lbs Bridge City JMPv2 costs about $70 to ship by sea.
i (a Canadian from Ottawa) recently used a warehousing company in Ogdensburg NY to do something similar, as i wanted a couple of LAP books and Lee Valley doesn’t carry either of them yet.. plus i wanted PDFs of each volume and LV doesn’t include PDFs with the books they sell.
the difference is that i drove the 45 minutes to the border, crossed into Ogdensburg, picked up my items at a nominal cost ($5 US/$6 CDN) and drove back home right after, paying the bridge toll there and back. easily the shortest trip to the US i’ve ever made, and well worth it.
I’m curious – did you get dinged for duty at the border coming back into Canada, since it was less than a 24 hour trip?
I do exactly the same to get my fix of LAP as soon as I can. Shipping to NZ has gone a bit mad, and the slow boat is probably going to get your package stuck as sea.
Everything has always turned up pristene and gleaming, so I can recommend NZ YouSHop if you’re over this way and want things quicker than waiting for stock to hit these shores.
I used to travel to Germany a few times a year PC (pre covid). A few times my coworkers there would ask me to buy stuff that they couldn’t get shipped and bring it with me. Its always interesting what will ship and what won’t. Right now I am dealing with stuff that won’t ship to California.
Comments are closed.