Demand growing for the biggest and best Christmas trees this season

Monday, December 12, 2005

At the same time, the customer base for trees suited to apartments is also expanding.

CONCORD, N.H. -- Taller Christmas trees are in demand this holiday season, but some buyers' eyes are bigger than their living rooms.

While some families are looking for larger trees to fill cavernous, cathedral-ceilinged "great rooms" in their upscale homes, others simply want the biggest and best product, even if that means the tree trimming starts with chopping a foot or more off the trunk when they discover it won't fit in their home.

"When you're outdoors, a tree certainly has a different look than it does in a living room," said David Murray of Murray Farms Greenhouse in Concord, who sells trees up to 13 feet tall.

Murray advertises that his trees are "extra thick, extra tall, for that extra big room!" But he and others in the industry say that for every customer with a large room to fill, there's another with unrealistic visions dancing in their heads.

"It's like people buying an enormous roast of beef and only eating half of it and then feeding the rest to the dog," said Steve Taylor, New Hampshire's agriculture commissioner. "It's a function of our affluent society."

Some growers who used to cut off the top 6 feet of trees now are cutting more to meet the demand, Taylor said. New Hampshire has more than 300 Christmas tree growers, though only about 50 have large commercial operations.

Irwin Loiterstein, a Christmas tree wholesaler in St. Louis who works with growers nationwide, said tall trees are in demand, but so are tiny ones suited to apartments and condominiums.

"There's been big surge in smaller and taller trees," said Loiterstein, who serves on the board of directors of the National Christmas Tree Association. "I had a bunch of them last week and got rid of them, and all of sudden I'm getting calls all over the place."

In Bedford, Katie Moore and her family put up their 10-foot tree last week.

"We always get the biggest one that will fit in the biggest room we have," she said.

Other than the year the tree had a bent trunk and had to be wired to the wall, Moore said she has had good luck finding tall trees. Getting them home and decorated also hasn't been too difficult.

"I have a lot of ornaments, and I buy new ones every year," she said. "But the lights can be a challenge."

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