I don't know how this would price out in comparison to buying your own, but I do know some folks just like fresh cocoanut. Granny made a fresh cocoanut cake every year at Christmas when cocoanuts were in the market and she did all the hard work herself. I didn't even realize you might dry your own cocoanut from the fresh though!
From the September 1945 issue of Woman's Day magazine in the Neighbor's Column comes this method for preserving cocoanut. Apparently buying dried sweetened cocoanut was difficult to come by at that time:
When fresh cocoanut is in market, use the liquid (milk) to make custard or pie. Then put the peeled meat through the fine cutter of the food grinder. Bring to boil 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, then add cocoanut and cook for five minutes. Spread on a large baking sheet and put in a slow oven (250f) for about two hours. It should dry thoroughly but not brown. Cool, then store in a dry, clean jar. Should make about three cups.
I grew curious about coconut and when it's available, etc. Apparently it is in fruit year round and ripened coconuts (called copra) are sold when the outer husk turns brown. It takes roughly a year for the coconut to ripen fully. I didn't even realize coconut was available year round! That means like oranges and bananas it might well be bought in season year round.
Once in market coconuts are good for about two weeks at room temperature, but may be kept whole in the refrigerator for up to two months. It is a crop that cannot be mechanically harvested, and either a human must climb the tree and cut the nut away or a long pole with a sharp knife at the other end is used to cut away the coconut.
This article also goes into detail on how to grow your own coconut palm, which is hardy to zone 9. You plant the whole coconut on it's side and buried about half way in the soil. It is best planted when the temperatures are between 90f and 100f which insures germination. I found it very intriguing to think I might grow a coconut palm and harvest my own nuts, though how I'd ever reach them is another story, lol. I thought perhaps some of the rest of you in the same zones (9-10) might be interested as well.
I hope you all find this as intriguing as I did.