Live trees make it smell like Christmas

Friday, December 11, 2009
Dan Brindle brought 100 trees from East Tennessee to his family farm off State Route 50 near North Ellington Parkway.

The question is almost like what you've been asked at the grocery store check out line: Paper or plastic? As some merchants have deferred stocking real Christmas trees to avoid financial risk, a few continue where the business managers are proud of what they're offering.

"Personally, I'm a real tree girl," Kroger store co-manager Linda Lehti said this week when asked if she, "personally," prefers a live cut tree compared to an artificial tree. It's "because of the smell. They smell so wonderful." While the store isn't selling artificial trees, it does offer "some Charlie Brown Christmas trees with one bulb on one bare twig. They're precious."

Kroger, Food Lion and the Andrews Spring Farm on Highway 50 near North Ellington Parkway appear to be the obvious places to look for Christmas trees this season. Trees have also been available at Lewisburg Garden Center on 5th Avenue North.

Dan Brindle, proprietor of Andrews Spring Farm, bought 100 trees from a farm at Mountain City near Johnson City and has sold 50. "We just broke even," he said of the family enterprise. "Now we're hoping to make some money."

Fraser Firs are the preferred tree, largely because the needles are soft.

Food Lion store manager Dwayne Clift had sold all but three by Wednesday afternoon, but there's an artificial tree at his house.

"I'd rather have a live one," the Spring Hill resident said, "but my wife wanted an artificial one. She doesn't like the mess. I don't think they're that messy - a few pine needles. It seems more traditional to have a real tree. You get that fresh pine scent in the home... You can't get that in a bottle."

Other merchants said they've not offered cut trees this year as they're trying to restrict stock that might not sell out. One employee said she thought many people would just go into the woods and cut their own tree.

Brindle and his wife, Kaitlyn, say they want to develop his family farm into a variety of diversified businesses related to farming and one of the ideas is to grow trees and eventually have a "cut your own" Christmas tree service.

"We're not competing with anyone," he said. "Anybody who wants a fake tree will get one."

Lehti agrees at Kroger, adding that a live tree "brings a little bit of the outdoors in. Aside from the evergreen, the trees are so nice and full and the decorations hang on them so well."