Lauren Booth of Booth’s Christmas Tree Farm on Adrian Highway in Conway took a leap of faith this summer when she decided against ordering less trees than usual.
“I was really nervous about COVID,” Booth said. “I was going to half my usual order, then I was going to just take off a third … but I think everything is going good,” Booth said. “I was worried [then] that people weren’t going to buy trees, that they were going to stay inside.”
Booth went ahead and ordered her usual amount of Fraser firs, and trimmed all the trees on their tree farm the same way they always do, she said, and hoped for the best.
Booth’s Christmas Tree Farm has been around for over 58 years, and is now run by Booth and her father, Haley. According to their website they have a wide selection of Christmas trees on their farm and they bring in their Fraser firs from the North Carolina mountains.
“We’ve been selling firs the whole week. People are just stopping by saying ‘Are you open?’,” Booth said. “They are buying earlier this year.”
She said she always has some customers who buy exceptionally large trees who want them early to have time to decorate and enjoy them, but she said the farm has seen an influx of people buying before Thanksgiving.
The farm’s biggest sales days are usually this weekend after Thanksgiving. They got their first load of firs in and got their second loads just before the holiday.
“A lot of people wait to have Thanksgiving and then they come,” Booth said. “Last year and the past few years we’ve had record-breaking sales that weekend as far as gross sales. Each year we have surpassed [the prior], I hope we’re still in line with last year.”
Last year, the farm sold just under 500 trees out of their field, and around 1,500 firs.
“We probably served at least 1,700-1,800 families,” she said.
Some of her customers, she said, told her they didn’t pick a good tree last year because they were picked over so they came earlier this year. She also has seen a lot of first-time customers as well.
“People are still looking for the experience. I have had a lot of new customers, one of them said they haven’t had a real tree in 30 years and they said they just wanted to ‘smell Christmas,’” Booth said.
Booth’s Christmas Tree Farm is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., and they will be open on Thanksgiving Day.
Booth’s trees grown on the farm are $8 per foot up to seven feet tall, and $10 per foot for trees 8-10 feet tall. Above 11 feet tall is $15 per foot. Fraser firs start around $40 for a five-foot tree, and go up to $300 for a 12-foot one.
The Sertoma Club in Conway began selling their North Carolina-based firs last year at a new location at 2219 North Main Street, but this year there will be less trees in the lot.
“We couldn’t get what we asked for,” said Adam Emrick, a Sertoma club member.
The club has had no problem selling their smaller amount of trees, Emrick said, but the prices went up for the club by about 20%.
Trees prices are only nominally increased though for customers, Emrick said.
Their trees will run around $65-80 each, and their Main Street location will be open weekdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
“Last year we sold half our trees in the first weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised if we sell out,” Emrick said.
Paul Mew with Landscapes by Mew in Conway said there is a “terrible shortage” in Christmas trees, and that people seem to be misunderstanding the reason why.
“Some of them tried to blame it on the fires up there but that has nothing to do with it,” Mew said.
The shortage stems from the economy crash back in 2008, and the average age of the trees people are selling now is around 10-12 years old. Back when the economy crashed, he said, growers weren’t selling nearly as many, so therefore they did not plant as many since demand was down.
“All of a sudden they had a three or four-year streak where they couldn’t sell,” Mew said.
His firs also come from North Carolina, and he said he got his trees a year ago and prices have gone up, but not so much that they were a dealbreaker.
“My grower and I agree - we have to make sure we keep them at a point where people are willing to buy them, otherwise they will buy artificial trees,” Mew said.
While he hasn’t seen as much of an influx of early buyers, he just received his trees last Thursday.
He looks forward to Thanksgiving weekend, which usually means good tree sales.
“We’re geared up, we’ve got our trees, we’re ready,” Mew said.
Their tabletop trees start at $19 and go up in price as size increases.
Landscapes by Mew is located at 4915 West Highway 501.