By Caroleine James
Wrangell Sentinel 

Santa's freight helpers hand out holiday advice


October 26, 2022 | View PDF

The holidays are a time for tasty food, corny films and family fun. But, as every Wrangellite knows, shipping delays and unexpected freight fees have a way of impeding the festive spirit of the season, leaving gift givers scrambling to stuff stockings and wrap postponed packages.

C&D Deliveries and Alaska Marine Lines are sharing their tips and tricks to help the community streamline its holiday shopping.

Chris Booker of C&D Deliveries can distill his shopping advice down to a two-word maxim: “Order early.” Mid to late October is the “perfect time,” he suggested, especially since national supply chain issues persist.

Shoppers should ensure that their name and physical address is on each package. “If they can’t get to that, put in the post office address or our company’s physical address,” Booker said. “As long as they have their name on it, we know where to go.”

C&D, which delivers for UPS and FedEx in Wrangell, understands that the season of giving can also be a season of secrecy. “A lot of stuff comes in that’s not discreet,” Booker said, and if a shopper doesn’t want their daughter to see her new bike or their partner to see the new TV, C&D can arrange a pickup time or an alternate delivery location.

When a package recipient is tough to track down, Booker relies on the Facebook community group. “Folks become little sleuths and they help us out a lot,” he said.

Booker also encourages shoppers to keep their addresses updated and their dogs indoors or leashed when expecting a package for the safety of him and his team.

The C&D holiday rush begins near the end of November and lasts until the end of the year. During the peak delivery weeks, the company’s workload rises from around 250 stops per week to around 450 stops per week. “(For) about six to eight weeks, it gets really busy,” Booker said. “Right before Christmas is when we see that.”

Alaska Marine Lines also sees a seasonal shipping hike. “When dividends get out, folks will start to plan their Christmas shopping,” said representative Charity Hommel.

The Alaska Marine Lines’ weekly barge doesn’t just handle large items. “We see a lot of items that are unable to be shipped through the post office,” explained Hommel. Small packages might not be eligible for air shipping if they contain lithium batteries or combustible paint, for example. The barge accommodates a wide range of package sizes from small FedEx boxes to mobile homes, vehicles, and shipping container loads.

To ensure that packages sent via barge can reach their Wrangell recipients, Hommel urged purchasers to include extra information on their shipping labels. The Alaska Marine Lines Seattle location — 5615 W Marginal Way — should go in the address field and purchaser’s name, destination city, and phone number should all be included in the name field when filling out an online order.

“The phone number is important,” explained Hommel, since Marine Lines workers call customers when their packages have arrived. When she receives packages without a phone number, hunting down the recipient’s contact information can be a struggle. “Sometimes we do have mysteries,” she said. “But usually, they can be solved.”

Hommel also encouraged shoppers to ship their packages together to avoid unnecessary fees. “AML receives hundreds of thousands of packages per week,” she said. “They are unable to consolidate packages for people.” If a multi-item Amazon order arrives at Alaska Marine Lines over a span of two days, the order may accrue two separate shipping charges. “Packages arrive, get billed, and are put in a shipping container right away,” Hommel said. If a portion of an order is late, it may end up on a later barge.

Hommel encouraged community members to reach out to Alaska Marine Lines at 907-874-3314 with any questions.


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