Christmas tree vendors anticipate holiday rush
For close to 30 years, Margaret 'Barbara' Edwards has been selling Christmas trees during the yuletide season in the vicinity of Mall Plaza in Half-Way Tree.
During a visit yesterday, Edwards told THE STAR that the business of selling trees has evolved over the years.
"It can be difficult, but it's rewarding. The season has just begun, so is a wait and see. This coming weekend is usually when things begin to pick up," she said.
She told THE STAR that the trees are only sold for a few weeks, as the greater part of the business is getting the trees ready for the season.
"Is just for like 24 days I am out here. I used to be by the front there, but Mr Scarlett gave me these two car parking spaces to operate," Edwards said.
"More and more people have started to sell as well. I'm here up until Christmas Eve. I started this season after I received an order for five trees. My husband is the planter, he works right through the year so that we have trees to sell. I employ two person who are here with me."
Edwards admitted that selling Christmas trees is a competitive business.
"Everybody out here selling, and it can be hostile. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more intense it gets," Edwards told THE STAR. "If you do it properly, and people see what they (customers) want, then you will earn. Mi a deal with a customer and she ask for a eight-foot tree and she come and see another vendor with a better looking tree and she buy from them. That's how it goes."
Edwards' customers journey from as far as Montego Bay to purchase trees. And for as low as $4,000, she said that a customer could drive away with a Christmas tree of his/her choice.
"If we have a tree and it not fresh as a newly cut tree, then we sell it cheaper. But it's normally from $4,000 up that we start the selling price," she said.
Our news team also spoke with Caswell McFarlane, whose role in the Christmas tree business is essential.
McFarlane, who said he used to sell trees, now utilises his metal work skills to build stands so the trees can stand firm.
"An old friend introduced the idea to me, and since then I turned it into a business," he told THE STAR, noting that the business improves every year.
Jason Monteith, one of the planters, explained that the entire process starts with the growers.
Monteith said: "We have to set the nursery, plough up the place, get the seeds, dry dem and sow dem. We then wait 'til the tree hatch then transplant it. After that we fertilise and water it 'til it catch."
According to Monteith, it usually takes two to three years before a tree is ready.
"That depends on how you take care of the tree," he told THE STAR, pointing to a tree that they planted at the shopping mall last year.