We are truly spoiled living in the heart of hardwood country here in St. Louis. I often wonder what being a woodworker in Phoenix or Anchorage would be like. Sourcing material, especially unique character wood, would be a huge challenge. Expensive too.
One way to save is finding a reliable supplier and having it shipped two or three or four hundred board feet at a time. I am biased, but I think we could be that for more people than we are. We have sent wood to Florida, Texas, New Jersey and several points in between. And now Anchorage.
I exchanged a few emails and had a telephone conversation with Sean in Anchorage, and now he is getting some beautiful honeylocust and awesome cherry. Freightquote.com, which I had recommended to him (arranging shipping is the buyer's responsibility) gave him quotes all over $1000, nearly $3/bf. Then he spoke to his employer, who has a trucking relationship, and got a price of ~$600. So for about $1.50/bf, he is having wood trucked from St. Louis to Auburn WA, barged to Alaska, and then (as he put it), "trucked to the North Pole." That makes his cherry cost a total of $6.50/bf, a deal lots of west coasters should like.
Sure, someone else picked out the boards, but that is what the phone call can help clarify. With our minimal sapwood, there is little waste in the "A" cherry. It seems to me that if you have any kind of "in" with a trucking relationship, then midwestern domestic hardwoods can be yours at a very competitive price.
Remember we have a $500 minimum order to ship. We just are not geared for sending one or two pieces at the prices we charge.