Business

Firewood sales heat up as weather cools

David Goetz cuts firewood on a wood processor. He said firewood sales usually pick up in late August. - Beth Elliott/The Mirror
David Goetz cuts firewood on a wood processor. He said firewood sales usually pick up in late August.
— image credit: Beth Elliott/The Mirror

Autumn has barely begun and firewood sales are in full swing.

That is nothing unusual, said David Goetz, owner of Quality Firewood.

Goetz, a firewood retailer for the past 30 years, sells wood year-round. However, his busy season usually begins in late August when customers prepare for the winter season.

That is when the wood is more expensive, Goetz said.

Wood purchased earlier in the year is freshly cut and unseasoned. Wood seasoning is a drying process to lower the moisture content in the wood — a process that takes six to 12 months, Goetz said.

“I’m happy to sell it to them, but they would save a lot more if they bought in the spring,” he said.

The legal measure of firewood is by the cord or fraction of a cord. A cord of firewood measures 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. Goetz said he sells roughly 20 cords a week and anticipates a busy year.

One reason is the troubled economy. With high fuel prices and energy costs on the rise, Goetz believes that people are looking for affordable alternatives to home heating and less dependence on power companies.

However, it seems there are fewer sellers, and firewood is harder to find.

Though Goetz’s business is located in Puyallup, he regularly delivers as far south as Fort Lewis and all the way to Everett.

Anyone with a truck can sell firewood. However, these types of “tailgate” businesses do not last long, Goetz said.

“I may not be the cheapest,” Goetz said, “but I run an honest business.”

The Department of Agriculture is already receiving complaints from swindled customers. In a news release dated Aug. 18, Kirk Robinson, manager of the agency’s Weights and Measures Program, said most complaints came from consumers who said they didn’t get the amount of wood they paid for.

Robinson cautions customers to avoid doing business with anyone selling wood by the “unit” or “truckload,” for example. He suggests being present while the wood is being delivered and stacked. Also be sure to ask for a receipt with the type and quality of the wood listed.

Firewood retailers can be found in the phonebook.

For assistance on firewood complaints, call the Washington State Department of Agriculture in Olympia at (360) 902-1857.

Contact Beth Elliott: belliott@fedwaymirror.com

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