Christmas tree business could reflect economy |

Christmas tree business could reflect economy

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Dan Thrift/Thaoe Daily TribuneBennie Kunibe, left, trims branches on a tree purchased by Susan and Jerry Trautman on Tuesday at the Optimist Club Christmas tree lot.

“O Tannenbaum” may be the latest victim to succumb to the storm of a slumping economy and consumer uncertainty this year.

Two of the operators at six South Shore Christmas tree lots estimated Tuesday that sales have dropped about 30 percent.

Tree seller Pat Kelley attributes the decline to the economy and competition. There are three more South Shore lots this year.

“We usually sell out, but we’re slower this year,” said Kelley, who runs the tree lot next to the American Legion Post. He has sold trees for 10 years at South Lake Tahoe.

Kelley, who gets his trees off his farm in Kyburz, is holding out for a big rush this weekend when the bulk of the tourists are due to arrive.

Many tend to buy the small trees for their vacation rentals or motel rooms.

“We always tend to get a rush on the last weekend,” Don Radford said at the South Lake Tahoe Optimist Club lot across from Campground by the Lake.

The club donates the tree proceeds to youth groups.

Making these payments seems to get more difficult through the years, as the cost of the trees has tripled in the last 20 years, Radford said.

The volunteer said he believes tree sales have dwindled because of the slower economy and weather. Snowstorms — both the bane and blessing of Tahoe tourism — have kept some fair-weather tree shoppers away from the lots.

“Tahoe has always been affected by the weather,” Radford said.

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