By John DeCoste
With just two weekends left until Christmas, business was described as “steady” at Christmas tree yards and displays in our area.
“Business has been steady,” Lewis Bond, set up on Commercial Street in New Minas selling trees grown by Colin Hughes in New Ross, said Dec. 7. When asked, Bond suggested, “people still prefer real trees to artificial.”
Bond believes balsam fir is still the most popular choice for an evergreen Christmas tree, though pine continues to grow in popularity.
As for business, Bond said, “it depends totally on the weather,” but he expected Dec. 8-9 and this coming weekend would be the two busiest of the season.
If a person is going to purchase a tree “and not put it up right away,” it should be stored in a container of water to keep it hydrated.
Hughes, who is one of the largest exporters of Christmas trees in Nova Scotia, suggested the Christmas tree industry is holding its own.
“This year started off good, but hasn’t been as good lately,” he said. “We’re hoping it picks up this weekend and next.”
As for what kind of season it might end up being overall, Hughes replied, “it’s something you can’t really predict until it’s over.”
Karena Van Kippersluis and her husband operate Rocky Mountain Christmas Tree U-Pick in South Alton, a business begun 30 years ago by her late parents.
“For us, it’s different in that we’re only open weekends,” she said. The Dec. 1-2 weekend was their first open weekend, “so we only really have six days to make it a success.”
Business on the Dec. 1-2 weekend was brisk, she said.
“We had a great weekend because we had a bit of snow. Rainy weather (like Dec. 8) tends to slow things down a bit. It puts people more in the mood when there’s a little snow on the ground.”
Van Kippersluis agreed most people “still prefer a real tree, unless they can’t have one,” due to allergies or other sensitivities. If that isn’t the case, “people will still come back because they miss the smell of a real tree.”
She agrees balsam fir “is still the most popular – and it’s also what grows best around here. We sell some pine, but fir is a Nova Scotia thing.”
There are lots of tips to keep a tree fresh, “like putting aspirin in the water, but we don’t encourage that kind of thing. There’s no real proof it makes any difference.”
After the tree is up, and if it is properly maintained, there’s no reason it can’t be enjoyed for several weeks.
“The trees we sell here are really fresh; as long as it’s a clean cut, it should be fine,” she said. “It’s surprising the water they’ll take for the first couple of days.”
Making sure it’s not too close to a heat source is also good advice.
Rocky Mountain, which is strictly a U-pick operation, is also involved in a couple of special initiatives this year. Five dollars from each tree sold is being donated to the parent groups of 10 local schools as a fundraiser.
That project, she said, is going really well.
“We were really happy with last weekend, and this weekend (Dec. 8-9) will really be the big one for that,” she said.
In addition, $1 from every tree sold is being donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. “Both my parents passed away from cancer,” she said. “As they started the business, and as it’s such a great cause, it seemed to be a good thing to do to honour their memory.”