Down East 2013 ©
Shona Monroe, of Jonesport, sells firewood. Not an unusual occupation in Maine, except Monroe sells her locally cut birch logs through the Internet in small, perfectly trimmed bundles, and she ships them all over the country to people who think nothing looks better in an empty fireplace than logs from trees that don’t grow anywhere near them.
“People around here think it’s crazy,” she allows, “but there’s a real demand out there.” Monroe began Wood Elf, her computer-based business (www.birchgifts.com ), two years ago as an experiment in curiosity. “My husband and I thought of it,” she explains. “Birch is plentiful around here, but not in other states. So we thought we’d give it a try.”
Monroe offers packages ranging from three sixteen-inch logs for $19.95 to nine twenty-inch logs for $41.95, but her first order was for a hundred of the sticks to stock fireplaces at a high-end resort in Walden, Tennessee. “The top rooms there go for three thousand dollars a night, and they wanted my birch logs for their rooms,” Monroe marvels.
Requests from Florida and California dominate Monroe’s order book. “Our logs have been featured in photo shoots for fancy houses, and we get quite a few orders from interior designers,” she says.
The decorative birch usually isn’t bought to go up in flames, but Monroe also sells sixteen-inch cubes of split firewood for $18.95, plus shipping. “I just sent one of those out the other day to a customer in Missouri,” she says, “delivered right to his door by UPS.” So far, the lady from Jonesport has had no requests for mail-order firewood from any Maine address.
(Published February 2004)