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On the front lines: Box Brothers

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Monday, 4:15pm, Los Feliz. The Box Brothers on Hillhurst. The mood: patience, mostly.

The guys at this Box Brothers are always cheerful, joking, and totally competent. Bring in your packages and they have boxes, bubble wrap, those foam squiggles, padded envelopes, address labels at the ready. They will pack everything for you and ship it intact. So what's it like there on December 19, with the shipping countdown on?

Packed. Boxes ready for pickup, boxes that have to be moved for the employees to get around, boxes on top of boxes on top of boxes. Customers galore, with the line extending to, but not out, the door. We saw somebody shipping dozens of 10-inch tall gumball machines. We couldn't help think of all the people opening those gifts and finding a desktop gumball machine inside. What then? Could they feel anything but disappointment? But then there was a Silverlake-ish guy shipping off a digtal camera and photo printer, an Aveda gift bag and a bunch of other presents, all to one destination. Now that would be a nice box to open.

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Despite the crowds, the medium-length wait and the boxed-in feeling of Box Brothers, the guys working there remained in good spirits and no customers went bezerk. Overall, a last-minute holiday shipping experience we can happily recommend.