It's food for thought, Justin. And KLook, if you have a usable drop location, where are you?
I use close to 4 tons a year, but as a practical matter I have to use bagged coal, which the dealer now deposits neatly in my garage on pallets. Also as a practical matter I could borrow equipment from my brother to transport my bags from a drop point, but the price break would have to be substantial to compensate for my time and for hiring a couple high school kids to do the lifting and stacking. And from reading a lot of posts here, from guys who pick up their coal at the breakers, you had best know what you are doing or you can come back with a big truck full of lousy coal. Then there's the issue of coordinating delivery with need -- I said I use 4 tons, but I bought ahead this year and I have most of next winter in the garage already. I'd be happy to take 6 tons or so at a time. but I couldn't take it now, whereas someone else might need a pallet at a time delivered once a month. And there's the issue that I burn nut, Harry burns rice, and Joe burns stove (names changed to protect the innocent).
I'm honestly not trying to be a wet blanket; if we could make this work I'm all in favor. How about a buyer's co-op where we pool our needs and see if dealers will bid on the whole package? Since the dealers already have the supply channel, the storage facilities, and the delivery equipment, we are relieved of all that hassle. I have no idea if dealers would go for that, since they still have the same delivery expenses. They also know, collectively, that if they DON'T offer a price break we still must buy from one or another of them. Their only incentive would be that the group would steer it's members their way, in return for the price break. Has anyone here had experience with fuel-oil group buying? For example, I know that sometimes all the teachers and staff of a school district will band together and get a price concession from an oil dealer in exchange for -- what? -- a semi-formal promise to buy so many thousand gallons among the group. Ditto with landlord associations, where the association can steer many dozens or hundreds of apartment houses to a dealer. Presumably we could do with coal what those groups do with oil.
Kimmel and Blaschak coals seem to be readily available in Central Maine. Kimmel from Paris Farmers Union and from Knight's Farm Supply, Blaschak from Agway and a variety of hardware stores. I have used both with good results. What other reliable brands is anyone familiar with, and available here? Ring's Coal in Auburn (under new ownership) buys in bulk and delivers bulk or bagged. I have used only a few bags from them, and it seemed to be very good. What other suppliers does anyone know of?