Based on the latest forecasts by Chris Smallcomb, this winter could be another historic snow year … or not. Meteorologists can’t predict what’s going to happen in three days much less three months. No one wishes this weren’t the case more than local purveyors of pellets.
Pellet stoves are a popular heat-source in Mammoth, and last winter, there were times during the “Snow-pocalypse,” when the highway closed, making re-stocking a challenge, to say the least. Local pellets dealers say that while they order plenty of product, they can’t always control when the goods will get into a customer’s hands.
Darren Johnson, manager for Mammoth’s High Country Lumber said, “We’re gearing up the best we can to accommodate the demand [this winter].”
More pellets were ordered this year than last, Johnson said. There were plenty ordered last year, “bought and paid for” Johnson explained, but the problem was transportation.
“You guys didn’t order enough,’ is a common complaint,” Johnson said. He
explained that when the product shows up is out of his control as a local vendor. Mills and other suppliers (who are not based locally) couldn’t keep up with demand last year, he added.
Delivering to Mammoth is a “one-way delivery” he explained. A truck can’t pick up a load of something else for its return trip like it can in a metropolitan area such as Reno or Sacramento, and deliver to another location. Trucking companies have to add an extra charge to ship pellets to Mammoth as a result.
For example: A ton of pellets goes for $249 a ton at the Home Depot in Reno. That’s about $5 for a 40-lb. bag. At A Better Fireplace & Stove Company, 40-lb. bags are $7.99 a bag. High Country Lumber charges $7.20 for a 50-lb. bag. The price of pellets, Johnson said, is mostly in the shipping. The product costs are set.
Johnson did not want to divulge the costs of shipping, though he did say that truckers can make more money shipping Christmas trees than pellets this time of year.
How much to order can be a bit of a gamble, he added. If it’s a mild winter, you end up sitting on a bunch of product. Sure, the pellets don’t have an expiration date, but there are risks. The bags could get punctured in storage. The tiny logs can also soak up water, even from the condensation in a sealed bag, rendering them unusable.