POSTED: Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 5:23pm
UPDATED: Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 5:43pm
With Christmas just days away, you'd think most pine tree vendors would be cleaning up shop. But increasing costs and competition are leaving many vendors with trees to spare.
"It's been in the family for the past 19 years; we've been doing it, my wife and I, for the past 3 years," said Carlos Romero, owner of Joy Christmas Trees.
"It's something different, it's something different," he said of the job. While his tree tent may look cleaned out, he says they've sold a hundred trees less than last year. And though the customers seem to be dropping, prices are only going up.
"Lot rentals, permits, trees, shipping, the trees up there to Oregon, pretty much everything," he said of the rising costs.
"You've got to ship them by semi-truck; it's about 1,600 miles so that's a big expense," said Joshua Sumrell, with Elite Christmas Trees. With back-breaking work not leading to overflowing pockets, Sumrell feels the burn.
"Unloading the semi-truck, loading trees onto cars, tying them onto cars," he said of the labor the business entails. He says he and his partner sacrificed a few extra trimmings to tighten their belts this year.
"We decided to run this Christmas tree lot as a two-person team; we've basically been doing the work of a 5-person team."
And while some people still appreciate having a real tree, others are making do with last year's tinsel.
"Artificial trees are basically direct competition for the real Christmas tree market," Sumrell said. He is now giving away the trees he has left, at no charge - hoping people who normally couldn't afford fresh pine will take advantage.
"We have a lot of extra trees, so our loss is their gain, basically."
But Romero and Sumrell both agree that the hard work is worth it to be apart of a holiday tradition.
"Everything that comes here is in a good mood, they come in with their families, they're shopping around and looking around for quite a while," Sumrell said.
If you still want a tree, Joy Christmas trees, with 4 locations, are offering discounts. And Elite Christmas Trees, located the Mack Massey Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership, are offering them for free.