I tried buying some wood from an importer who once sold regularly to me and then said no more, too small, can’t tie up manpower for small buyers. It’s happened before. It was one just five miles away—convenient but obviously with no commitment or loyalty to it’s customers, Timbermet, so that’s not an option now. It made me think is there another possibility that if the big boys won’t supply us little guys could we become a cooperative and find a supplier to buy from as a cooperative entity? I know when I lived in the States woodworkers couldn’t afford a Wood-mizer to slab their trees into boards because of travel costs and setup time so half a dozen of us got together for a Saturday with a Wood-mizer owner and we either brought our logs together and worked alongside one another to slab our trees or moved to one another’s to do the same. Once organised it worked great every six months. I still own some mesquite here in the UK from wood milled in Texas and shipped with my personal effects.
Other times I would just buy a load of wood, take it home and offer half of it to friends just so I could get the lower commercial price. That doesn’t exist here as far as I know but a lot of the bigger timber importers only supply larger distributors and there is always the markup that pushes the price up for the little-man end users. Course woodworkers are often limited time and money wise to enter into a coopted situation. I often think that the same could be a possibility for workshop space, machine shop and tools and equipment too. None of it as a business nor to make any money. Just cooperation between the likeminded looking for a way to make things work.
Another consideration might be approaching a supplier to put half a dozen packages together in bundles of say four woods like oak, ash, cherry and walnut, something like that.