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‘BRING LIFE INTO THEIR HOME’: Christmas trees a hot commodity during pandemic

Masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper are hot ticket items during the pandemic.

Now, you can add Christmas trees to that list.

Sweetpea’s, a florist on Roncesvalles Ave., said its Christmas tree stock — roughly 1,000 — was sold out before the first weekend of December. They usually sell out later in the month.

“We are definitely seeing record sales this year,” said shop owner Sara Jameson.

“We’re actually selling out of stands before trees,” she said. “We’re getting a lot of people who never had a tree before coming in. This is our second load and we can’t get anymore (trees) at this point.”

Jameson said they pre-ordered their 800 trees, with a few hundred extra as padding, from a tree farm near Sarnia back in January. But they can’t get anymore from the farm because the farmers need to protect their future inventory.

Sweetpea’s owner Sara Jameson and her dad David Beattie, among the Christmas trees for sale along Roncesvalles Ave. in Toronto, Ont. on Thursday December 3, 2020. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia)

Sweetpea’s is offering a number of options during the pandemic, including in-person sales and online or phone purchases for curbside pick-up and delivery. There have been plenty of pre-orders this year. And running the lot has been a good excuse to spend some time with her father, who came out of retirement to help.

“It’s a lot of work, but there’s a joy to it,” she beams. “It’s all good vibes. You see little kids who have had so many things cancelled and you get excited for them that they have a tree to look forward to. I wanted to bring that family feeling to it, I felt was missing from big box stores.”

Sweetpea’s carries everything from a 2.5-foot tree to 14-foot tree and prices range from $44 to $225.

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“I think partially, everybody’s so eager for anything that will be a positive thing,” Jameson said as to why more people were buying trees.

“I think that because people are home, they can take better care of the Christmas tree. People really want to bring life into their home, so we’re seeing a lot of plant sales, flower sales. We’re seeing a lot more people buying flowers for themselves or they’re spending on ‘just because’ arrangements.”

On top of that, Jameson said, many young people may not be able to go home to see their families because of COVID, so putting up a tree could be their way to celebrate and find some holiday cheer.

Fiesta Gardens, which operates across the street from the Fiesta Farms supermarket near Christie and Bloor Sts., also said customers are buying trees earlier this season. They’ve seen sales jump at least 30% this year and they expect to be sold out by Christmas Eve, but they are associated with smaller garden centres that may lend a helping hand.

“All these people came in a week-and-a-half earlier, because I guess they’re nervous of a shortage or maybe they want more cheer for longer,” said owner Dino Virgona.

“The Fraser Fir is still the favourite tree and the Balsam is one of the favourites because of the fragrance. It’s not a free-for-all until you’re low on inventory and then people don’t care, they just took whatever was available.”

jyuen@postmedia.com

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