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Christmas tree sales off to a good start

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The rush to get a Christmas tree is almost underway in St. Lawrence County.

Although most sellers are predicting their biggest sales will be in the next two weekends, some faithful customers wanted to beat the rush and get a tree this weekend.

Scott M. Wallace, Hannawa Falls, picked up a 7-foot tree Sunday at a stand in the Ponderosa Steakhouse parking lot, 185 Market St., Potsdam.

“The last few years, I’ve waited until two weeks before Christmas and I had to drive all over the county to find one,” he said. “I don’t wait now.”

Jeffery W. King and his son Jonathan J. sell Christmas trees from their Balsam Hill Farm in Chateaugay. Every year, they bring truckloads of trees to Ponderosa’s parking lot, where they sell about 250 trees.

Jeffery King said his father started the trek to Potsdam to sell trees more than 30 years ago and now he took it over, selling trees seven days a week from Black Friday to Dec. 22.

“We’ve had this relationship with Ponderosa for a long, long time,” he said. “People buy a tree and go in and eat.”

Mr. King said although they only sell trees for a month out of the year, preparing the trees is a yearlong process.

“They have to be pruned, you have to mow around them and you have to make sure there’s no brush growing through them,” he said. “Then you have to worry about them getting hit by the frost because it can stunt their growth by two or three years sometimes.”

This year’s weather has been great for tree growers, according to Mr. King.

Mr. King said the next two weekends are going to be very busy for his stand.

“We get a lot of the same people back every year,” he said. “Once you start talking to the people out here, it seems like you’ve known them for years.”

Mr. King said his wife, Glenda, and his mother, Nancy, make Christmas wreaths for him to sell along with the trees.

“I’ve never come out here before Thanksgiving, but I think my father did because some people like to put a wreath up before Thanksgiving,” he said.

John E. Sleeper and Penny R. Summers from Pierrepont got a 7-footer from Mr. King on Sunday. Mr. Sleeper said that although he jokingly threatened his grandchildren to wait until Christmas Eve to buy a tree, he got one early to beat the rush.

“There are plenty of last-minute things to do closer to Christmas,” he said.

Kingston’s Roadside Stand, 2969 County Route 14, Madrid, has featured Christmas trees for the past 10 years. The owner, Don G. Kingston, said he started selling balsam firs the Tuesday before Thanksgiving each year. “Next weekend will probably be the peak of our sales,” he said.

Mr. Kingston said he buys the fresh-cut trees from a tree grower near Bloomville, and sells them pre-bundled in Madrid. He said he has trees from 5 to 12 feet tall.

Kevin J. Blanchard, Potsdam, and his wife, Jennifer L., have been running Willow Tree Florist and Landscaping on Route 11 in Potsdam for more than 20 years. They said a late Thanksgiving affected their usual Christmas tree sales schedule. “It started earlier this year,” Mr. Blanchard said. “Thanksgiving was late and we sold more trees before Thanksgiving than any previous year.”

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