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Baby, it's coal outside

December 7, 2012 - Art Smith
When I was a little kid my dad used to tell me if I weren't good around Christmas time he would put coal in my stocking.

Living in Florida at the time, he really didn’t have much access to the bituminous rock that helps to power much of the United States.

Living in Ohio and working in West Virginia though, I have plenty of access to the stuff. Sometimes it even falls from the sky. Literally.

Small pieces of coal frequently fall from coal trains as they make their way across the Ohio River Bridge into Belpre. They fall onto Sixth Street directly next to The News and Sentinel.

It was on the street one day a few years ago that I saw a business opportunity: Selling the coal to dads everywhere, like mine a generation ago, who want to fill their naughty children’s stocking with flammable rock.

More as a joke than anything else, I listed a half-pound of coal on e-Bay for $5. I was a bit shocked when it actually sold. First to an artist in San Francisco, then to a dad in Kansas and finally to a family from the Upper East Side of New York that had me ship it to their Florida vacation home.

I even sold one pack to a geology company in Canada that prepares sample packs for schools.

The novelty has worn off a little; I proved you could find someone to buy coal online, I’m just not so sure I want to be the one selling it.

This year I haven’t listed any coal yet. I’ve noticed the market has gotten a little bit crowded with others who have apparently pick up dirty black rocks off the road and attempted to make a buck.

If you are bad this year and end up with coal in your stocking, remember, it didn’t come from me.


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