Fifteen-year-old Bella McKay and her family methodically searched on a massive Denver Christmas tree lot on Thursday morning, tugging at branches and sniffing for the unmistakable scent of a live tree, before settling on one to take home.
“Finally, the perfect tree,” Bella said with satisfaction.
With December here and Santa Claus preparing to board his sleigh, Christmas tree lots in the metro area are buzzing, and business will likely get busier down the holiday stretch.
Pete Elliott, owner of Nice Christmas Trees, stocks more than 10,000 fresh-cut Christmas trees on his 60,000-square-foot lot, 1720 S. Santa Fe Drive, Denver, during a typical season. Elliott, who sells both wholesale and retail, is moving trees fast.
“It’s been record numbers every day” since opening in mid-November, Elliott said. “I expect it to be like this right until Christmas, that’s if we have any trees left by then.”
Elliott and other local tree lot operators say business is sizzling. That’s based on reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic with people taking refuge in their homes.
“It’s just people being pent up for so long, they’re wanting some sort of normalcy,” said Brian Chrinka, of the Neighborhood Christmas Tree Co., 3755 Tennyson St., Denver, near the old Elitch Gardens carousel pavilion. “We can’t keep them in stock.”
Even people with artificial trees at home are buying real trees this year, looking to bring a bit of the great outdoors inside where they are spending much more time than usual. Real trees can also be set outdoors, another purchasing point, sellers say.
“People are coming and shopping earlier than last year,” said Ty Adams, of Silver Bell Christmas Trees, 6601 Indiana St., Arvada. “We are seeing a lot of new clientele and hearing comments like: ‘This is our first real tree in a long time,’ and ‘we have a fake tree,’ when they’re coming in.”
Oregon, the nation’s No. 1 supplier of fresh-cut trees, expects to ship nearly 6 million evergreens this season to worldwide markets, with thousands of trees shipped here to Colorado. Other top tree exporters are Washington, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press.
Elliott said he’s been scrambling, looking far and wide in hopes of bringing more trees to his lot this year.
“We have people reaching out from other states” looking to buy trees, Elliott said. “It’s different than normal years. We’re trying to source trees right now.”
Holly Baldrige, of Denver, lives in a studio apartment. She purchased a small tree, about 3 feet high, at Elliott’s large lot.
“It’s been real trees since I was a kid, it’s a family tradition, I love the smell,” Baldrige said. “It’s always a noble fir.”
The McKay family also buys a real tree each year, typically a noble or balsam fir. “We find a fragrant one that looks full,” said Andy McKay, Bella’s dad. The family of five took about 30 minutes to select their tree.
“It’s nice to look around at all the trees and pick one that will look nice in our house,” Bella added.
Many tree lots sell additional items including poinsettias, wreaths, garland, bows, wooden reindeer and snowmen. Some sell candies, jellies and other holiday goodies. Holiday music fills the air.
Callie McCurdy, of Littleton, stopped by the lot to purchase a fresh wreath for her front door.
The holiday season “is definitely going to be different” with the pandemic, McCurdy said. “Still, we’ve got to find joy.”
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