CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– Holly Berry Christmas Trees is open for business, but it is also facing high demand and a limited supply of trees ahead of the holiday season.
Employees who work at the family business are excited for the start of the season. It opened early this year and started selling trees on Monday. So far, the business has sold more than 160 trees.
Robert Gebhardt, one of the owners of Holly Berry Christmas Trees, said they wanted around 2,700 trees to be delivered to their lot, but they’re around 800 short this year.
Heading out to a Christmas tree farm during the Thanksgiving weekend to get a tree for the holidays is a common pastime and tradition for some families. Michelle Nothnagel lives nearby and walks over to Holly Berry Christmas Trees every year with her family to get their tree.
“It’s my favorite time. As soon as they pull in I see them out the window and I feel like the holiday has started,” said Nothnagel.
The farm has already seen steady business and some customers have been worried the farm may run out of trees. Christmas tree farms are dealing with a tree shortage, according to Gebhardt.
“This year we really felt the impact of that. Our tree supplier was only able to supply our lot as well as a few of his,” he said. “We’ve seen other tree sellers reaching out to us, asking if we can additionally sell them trees and unfortunately we just don’t have the supply.”
Gebhardt said the tree shortage stems back to 2008. When the economy took a hit, farmers did not plant and replenish their fields. A tree grows about a foot a year and Fraser Fir trees, which require a high altitude to grow, are shipped from the Virginia/Carolina border. The trees are maintained year-long which requires a lot of work.
“The supply now is catching up to us after not planting for several years,” Gebhardt said. “Eight, nine, ten-year-old trees are now getting ready for cut, but there’s a shortage.”
Demand has also gone up recently. With more people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Holly Berry saw a spike in sales. Last year, the business sold out of trees by Dec. 15, and more than 1,300 trees were sold during Thanksgiving weekend.
Gebhardt told 8News, even trying to find truck drivers to deliver the trees was a challenge this year.
Visitors to Holly Berry should expect a price jump. The average price increase will be around $15-20 dollars a tree depending on their size, and trees 10 ft or taller have jumped $30-80 dollars a piece.
“I do anticipate this weekend, we will sell through most of the trees on this lot,” said Gebhardt.
Robert Reynolds, another owner of Holly Berry Christmas Trees, originally started the business more than four decades ago.
“It’s been 46 years of making people happy. Back in the old days you couldn’t find trees like we have today,” Reynolds said. “Most trees we used were white pines and cedar trees. They were trees from up north. People started growing trees in Virginia and North Carolina in the mountain road.”
Reynolds said he hopes everyone will be able to get a tree this year. There are around 1,300 trees right now on the lot, with another shipment coming in this weekend. Over the next few days, the business expects to sell more than half of its inventory.