FLOYD COUNTY, Va. – Thanksgiving supper hadn’t even hit the table, and siblings Memphis and Jasmine Bender spent Thursday shopping for a Christmas tree to surprise their mom.
“She’s always loved decorating and stuff like that, but we recently haven’t been able to get a good Christmas tree in the house,” said Memphis.
“This was actually the only place that I could find open right now,” said Jasmine. “So we were a little worried we wouldn’t be able to find a tree, but I’m glad we did. Super excited.”
Sweet Providence Christmas Tree Farm owner John Houston said they’ve been fielding calls all week from families looking for a little Christmas cheer.
“Everybody is getting out a little early this year,” said Houston. “Everyone’s excited about going ahead and putting their tree up even before Thanksgiving.”
Houston worried that not many people would want to buy a tree this year, but so far they’ve proved him wrong. The Floyd County farm and its Roanoke lot opened on Saturday. Typically, they sell a couple dozen trees opening weekend. This year, they sold about 200.
“We’ve had record numbers this early in the month,” said Houston.
Other than a drought last year that killed some of the crop, 2020 has been a good growing year and Houston didn’t have any problems with insects or animals. Knowing that everyone’s had a tough year, he’s expecting a big early Christmas rush.
“We’ll sell a couple thousand in the Roanoke area and we’ll sell about 500 here this year if everybody comes out. so that’s plenty for me to handle,” said Houston.
In order to ensure that Sweet Providence has enough quality trees for locals, he’s not really doing any wholesale retail this year. That means the supply is low and the cost for wholesale buyers has gone up.
“They just have got to call around a little longer to make sure they have enough trees,” said Houston.
Garden centers, chain stores and other small Christmas tree lots could be impacted.
“The numbers are going to be tight, but overall, I think everybody is still going to get a decent tree this year,” said Houston.
This year, Sweet Providence is offering contactless and delivery.
“Luckily, here at the tree farm there’s so much open space, this is going to be one of the safer buying experiences as anywhere,” said Houston.
At the end of a crazy year, families are searching for something normal this holiday season and something to be thankful for.
“We’re all making it through. We’re all just coming together at the end of the day and getting through it,” said Memphis.