Alberni Christmas tree vendors tree-mendously busy

Christmas day is a little more than a week away and sales of Christmas trees in Alberni are getting brisk, some local vendors say.

Connie Kirkpatrick sells wreaths and bows as well as the finer Noble fir (inset) trees at her family’s retail site

The snow has fallen, Frosty the Snow Man has played on television and the ‘holiday tree’ debate is back, so you know it’s that time of year.

Christmas is a little more than a week away and sales of Christmas trees are getting brisk, some local vendors say.

Connie Kirkpatrick just finished selling three Christmas trees at the business’s retail outlet on Third Avenue during a recent interview.

Kirkpatrick and her husband Gerry own Kirkpatrick Christmas Trees, and cultivate trees at their lot by the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.

In addition to selling Christmas trees at the retail outlet the Kirkpatricks also operate a U-cut at their tree lot where shoppers can pick and chop down their own tree.

Christmas wreaths and bows are also sold at the retail outlet.

The couple set up on Third Avenue on Dec. 2 and business has started to get steadier. “Our peak time is between about Dec. 10 to Dec. 18 depending on the weekend,” Connie said.

Kirkpatrick sells Douglas and Noble fir trees, as well as Grand fir and white pine species. The most popular tree being sold right now is Douglas fir, Connie said.

The couple have been selling trees at the same location for 19 years. “We had a customer come in last night and say that they had bought trees from us for the last 16 years,” Connie said.

Across town at the Walmart parking lot, Tom’s Trees operator Tom Verbrugge was supposed to be enjoying his first day off in four weeks.

“But I can’t even call it a day off,” Verbrugge said by telephone. “I’ve got about 20 things I’ve got to do today.”

Verbrugge has been in the business for 15 years and got into it after his work as a machine operator in the logging industry dried up.

He acquired a 40-acre lot near the airport and started cultivating Christmas trees. The first year he sold them he sold 40 trees. “It’s a hard market to break into,” he said.

Douglas fir is the most popular species of tree Verbrugge sells, he says, with other species making up only five per cent of his sales.

Business is up and down from year to year and various conditions can affect it. American trees dumped into the Canadian market can impact business.

One thing that positively impacted his business this year: “Advertising with the radio,” Verbrugge said. “Our sales are a smidge over last year.”

The Whiskey Creek Tree Farm, operated by Tom’s son Mica, and Naesgaard’s Farm Market also sell Christmas trees.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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