Hundreds of Christmas trees available at Luxton Hall

Hundreds of Christmas trees available at Luxton Hall

A family-run Christmas tree retailer that usually sells out by mid-December still has about 300 Christmas trees on its property, which it sells for $30 on the honor system

In just one day, a local, family-run Christmas tree retailer, which usually sells out by mid-December, still has about 300 Christmas trees on its property at Luxton Hall in Langford, despite having concerns about a shortage of Christmas trees just a month ago.

The Happy Holidays Christmas Tree Company has been selling Christmas trees for seven years, bringing about 900 trees each year from a family farm in the Skeena Valley.

This year, a third of the trees remain unsold, resulting in a $20,000 to $25,000 loss for entrepreneur Debbie Stroshein.

“It’s been a tough road,” said Stroshein, who is also a teacher in the Sooke School District. “Business is down 37 percent this year in my first year since I started.

“It’s discouraging to me, but it’s also affected artisans who sell their wares locally, some who have reported a 60 to 70 per cent drop in sales. I cried a lot last week.”

A portion of their sales are donated to the Juan De Fuca Search and Rescue, so a drop in sales also means less money for the rescue group.

Dustin Olender, partner Julie Holsworth and their son Henry Olender stopped by Friday afternoon looking for a tree, preferably one about six feet tall.

“We had a change of plans and are now spending Christmas at home,” Olender said. “I heard the trees cost $30 and I wanted to support this business because they support the search and rescue of Juan De Fuca.”

Stroshein said sales fell while overheads skyrocketed.

“Trucks, fence leases, tent rentals and other expenses were $19,000 more than last year,” she said. “That adds about $10 to $15 to each tree. I did my best to keep the prices as low as possible.”

While she lost some business to department stores, her strength was that she was able to offer customers nine species of trees, including Noble, Nordmann, Grand, Douglas and Amabilis fir, small jack pine, giant western white pine and spruce. She had big ones, small ones, fat ones, and ugly ones too. She even had hard-to-find alpine firs.

As recently as a month ago, concerns were being raised about a tree shortage due to drought and wildfires, but that may have been limited to the larger commercial producers who supply big board shops, she suspects.

“The earlier reports may have just been scaremongering,” she said.

She’s willing to give the business, which she calls her passion project, another year in hopes it will turn around.

“I can weather the storm this year, but can we take a risk if this is a long-term shift in the market?”

While she plans to reopen next year, she said she will likely have to reduce her headcount of nine employees, some of whom rely on income from seasonal work.

For some employees she tutored in alternative education programs, the jobs help get them on their feet and provide them with valuable life and employment skills, she said. “They come back every year.”

The gates to the tree lot on Marwood Ave. 1040 are open, and the remaining trees are available under an honor system. People are invited to pick any tree for $30 and email their payment to [email protected]

“Some of these trees stand for 15 years of pruning, fertilization and care. It’s just sad that they couldn’t find a home for Christmas after all this time.”

[email protected]

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *