The legend of getting coal for Christmas has a part in just about every country’s Yuletide lore.
Be a good child or your stocking will have only coal in it, the threat would go.
Now a pair of Wollongong entrepreneurs is offering the black diamond, as it was once known, for delivery this Christmas, for just $19.95, via their online trading business.
''You could put this on a display shelf and admire the sedimentary remains of ancient vegetation for millions of years to come.''
At that price it might turn out to be one of the most expensive per-gram coal purchases going, but business partners Regan Kerr and Luke Szalla said the raw material is close to the least expensive of their inputs.
“The coal’s not the biggest cost at all,” Mr Kerr said.
“We wash it up real nice so it’s clean and shiny. We put it into a nice little display box, we wrap it and put a ribbon on top, then we pack it up and send it.”
Send it to your enemies, send it to your friends, and you can even sit back in the righteous knowledge you have contributed to a small piece of carbon capture and storage, saving the coal from being burned.
The business partners were inspired by the “send your enemies glitter” campaign earlier this year, and when they saw some sellers delivering coal for Christmas in the US, they thought they could do it better.
Now they are filling orders coming from the US.
They initially found it difficult to find a supplier for their needs – miners would have a minimum order of 200 tonnes, and some online brokers wouldn’t respond for less than 30,000 tonnes.
But now they have a supply and business is picking up for the Send Coal team.
When the Mercury caught up with Mr Kerr on Friday, he was delivering another load of coal to their temporary premises and preparing to wash it for sale.
He and Mr Szalla are friends from school and have become business partners, focusing on online trading. They also run an online breakfast smoothie sales business, Compleat.
But that has had to take a back seat while their Send Coal idea has its moment that must be seized.
“It’s a fun side project that’s taken over our lives,” Mr Kerr said.
Mr Szalla said with the coal being about 165 million years old, it was a present for the ages.
“Theoretically, you could put this on a display shelf and admire the sedimentary remains of ancient vegetation for millions of years to come – the longevity is great,” Mr Szalla said.
“It’d be perfect to send to the offices of your favourite Coalition MP”.