Store sales are tree-mendous

Posted: Friday, December 23, 2005

Whether used as holiday trees or Christmas trees, local businesses say they’ve been making green off of the evergreens traditionally erected and bedecked with lights at this time of year.

“Sales of trees have been good. We’re almost out, as planned,” said Mark Taplin of Cad-Re Feed and Supply in Soldotna.

Taplin said of the 100 noble fur and grand fur trees they had available, roughly 85 have been sold.

“Some people ordered them as early as October, but we have people come in at the very last minute too,” he said.

Of these tree buyers, Taplin said many are return customers who come year after year, but there’s always a few new customers each season.

“We also give every employee a tree, so that can skew the numbers, too” Taplin said.

Tasha Crouse, an employee at Kenai River Nursery in Kenai, said their business has been steady but not as much as in years past.

“It’s been kind of slow. We sold 100 the week before last and 93 last week, but only 23 trees since Monday,” she said.

Crouse said they have roughly 148 trees left, including Fraser furs, in addition to nobles and grands.

As to why sales have not been as high this year, Crouse speculated that they are many factors involved.

“Finances, with the high gas prices, could have affected sales. The weather, with no snow, wasn’t great either. It hard to compete with big box stores like Home Depot, too,” she said.

Denise Mitchell, a Home Depot representative in Seattle, confirmed that sales at the Kenai store have been booming.

“We sold about 600 trees in three weeks. We typically sell out of the real trees and some of the popular artificial ones, too,” she said.

With snow accumulation being sparse until recently, Taplin and Crouse said many people opted to cut their own trees this year rather than purchase them, which also affects their sales.

“We don’t keep track of who’s cutting them or how many get cut, but we know people are cutting their own because we get a lot of calls from people asking where they can go, said Tai Davis, an administrative technician at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Soldotna.

KNWR is open to tree cutting from Nov. 25 through Sunday and trees can be cut anywhere on the refuge, except within 150 feet of a road, lake, stream, trail, campground or picnic area.

There also is no tree cutting within two miles of the refuge’s visitors center on Ski Hill Road.

While some opt to cut or buy a large, live tree, not everyone does, according to Ron Delaney, store director of Fred Meyer in Soldotna.

“It’s getting harder and harder to find a nice, natural-shaped, live tree with all the beetle-kill on the peninsula,” he said.

As a result, some turn from pine to plastic when it comes to the type of tree to hang their holiday decorations on.

“It’s been a big year for artificial trees. They’ve been selling great,” Delaney said.

As to why some prefer an artificial tree, Delaney postulated that the reason might be convenience.

“They’re easy. You can just pop them up and then focus on the rest of the holiday,” he said.

In addition to the faux furs, Delaney added that small — 1-2 feet-tall — decorative pine trees from their floral section have been selling well.

“People like them,” he said. “They can buy them, decorate them for the holidays and then plant them in spring.”

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