Christmas tree lots have popped up around Aiken and are full of fragrant offerings awaiting lights, ornaments and tinsel.
Hundreds of Fraser firs arrived at the Yellow Wagon Hotdog Stand tree lot and at Rick’s Produce last Friday after being cut fresh in North Carolina, and customers have already been taking advantage and helping fuel a billion-dollar industry.
“I can’t believe people are coming out this early,” said Richard Runyon at the Yellow Wagon Hotdog Stand lot, located at the intersection of the Rudy Mason Parkway and Wagener Road.
The National Christmas Tree Association estimated Americans spent $1.07 billion on the purchase of more than 30 million real Christmas trees last year, or roughly $35 a tree.
Fraser firs are a popular choice for a Christmas tree for several reasons, according to Joe Furtick with Rick’s Produce on Whiskey Road next to Tire Kingdom.
“They’re nicely shaped, they’re fragrant, and they hold ornaments well,” he said.
“They have such a great scent and great needles,” Runyon said.
A Fraser fir from North Carolina is to be erected and decorated in the White House’s Blue Room this year. It represents the 12th time North Carolina has supplied the White House tree, more than any other state.
Trees at the Yellow Wagon Hotdog Stand lot range in height from 4.5 feet to 9 feet. Prices range from $15 to $45.
“Disabled veterans, come get a tree,” Runyon said.
Trees at Rick’s Produce range from 3 feet to 11 feet. The average price is $60. Rick’s Produce also has fresh Fraser fir wreaths and garland.
The trick to keeping a Christmas tree fresh through Dec. 25 is to keep it watered. Both Runyon and Furtick shrugged off the notion of doctoring the water with any special ingredients like Sprite or aspirin.
“Trees don’t drink Sprite or Coke,” Runyon said.
Rick’s Produce and the Yellow Wagon Hotdog Stand lot are open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to about 9 p.m.