An Okotoks Christmas tree supplier urges people to get out sooner rather than later to find the perfect tree.
Mountain View Christmas Trees is Alberta’s biggest wholesaler and retailer of premium graded Christmas trees, owner Bruce Wilkins said.
The business offers wholesale trees to clients looking for small or mid-sized orders, and also sells retail trees.
Wholesale clients include scouts' groups, church charities and grocery stores, and the company serves an area from Lethbridge to Peace River.
“We help provide for the guys that are too small to order from our growers,” Wilkins said.
A tight supply of Christmas trees is being reported this year, but Wilkins said it’s not a new issue.
“The overall supply and demand of Christmas trees has been quite skewed for the last four or five (years),” he said. “But it's not probably as bad as people are maybe expecting. We've got a good stock here at Okotoks.”
The company switches its focus to retail in December and operates a tree lot in the Staples parking lot in Okotoks as well as offering local online deliveries.
He urges people to pick out a tree sooner rather than later for the best selection.
“Bottom line is, if you want to be sure to get the tree that you want, just go out a bit earlier.”
Supply generally starts to dip towards the middle of December, but it varies from year-to-year, he said.
The tree lot has been sold out as early as Dec. 9 or as late as Christmas Eve, he said.
“The first weekend in December is always our busiest,” he said. “We're expecting to have a lot of folks and a lot of families out.”
Wilkins attributes part of the supply crunch to tree growers that are retiring or being bought out by bigger outfits, and to an overall increase in demand for real Christmas trees.
“Now maybe more people than in the past are looking for a live tree, for the experience that comes with it,” he said.
Competition from south of the border plays a role in supply issues, with a large part of inventory in Eastern Canada being shipped to the United States.
“The Americans have a lot of buying power,” he said, “where Christmas trees as a whole are traded in American dollars.”
He said overall costs in the industry are much higher than five years ago.
“That's really the sad part,” he said. “The same trees I used to be able to retail for $60, $70, $80, I'm now having to wholesale for $80 (or) $90."