Reno Christmas Trees: Smaller Selection, Higher Prices
The annual family tradition of traipsing to Reno’s sawdust-covered Christmas tree lots may mean settling for less than perfection.
The annual family tradition of traipsing to Reno’s sawdust-covered Christmas tree lots may mean settling for less than perfection. We visited some spots in Reno and found fewer trees and more disappointments. At the corner of south Virginia and Kietzke Lane, shopper Misty was finding slim pickings this year. We found her shopping for a tree for her church, and the tree she picked has a high price tag. Lot manager Matthew Altemus told her, "It’s $149. It is high, but there are a lot of people in Reno with big houses that want our best tree."
It's not easy for Matthew either. This is his livelihood…but tells me he hasn't slept for a week. Every year he has two lots, but just closed down his other one in Minden-Gardnerville. As he told us, "We just didn't have enough trees this year to do both of them, so we decided to just keep our Reno location. The people there are actually driving up here, all the way to Reno. But we're knocking $15 off their tree, just because they're making the trip."
And his corner's emptying out. He's sold 300 trees there already. That Christmas tree shortage you’ve heard about is real, and here too. Matthew tells me, "There's an estimated 3 million trees that sold last year that they don't have this year, so 3 million families won't get trees this year."
Down the road, the south Reno Home Depot near Target has trees from one reliable farm in Oregon. Prices are a bit higher this year. We asked associate Michael Good there that we had $55 to spend. He showed us what we’d get for that: "7 foot Noble tree! And you won't find any Charlie Brown trees here."
Like any supply demand situation, it's only a shortage for those who won't or can't pay those higher prices…up about 10% this year. But don't blame the Grinch. The shortage is just a matter of bad timing. Michael told us, "In 2008 we had droughts and a bad economy. Since then we've had fires, more droughts and a lot of things like that." Tree lot manager Matthew says today, "The economy's been good so people keep buying and there's just not enough trees. And they're expecting an eight-year shortage."
Matthew says you'll find a tree here in town...it just may not be the size or kind you want. Classics like the Oregon Noble Fir, the Cadillac of Christmas trees, are getting scarce. He says this year, buy your tree early. As he told us, "We're usually here till Christmas but this year we're going to be gone early." Is he going to sell out every last one? "Yeah. For sure."
Or, there have been no growing issues with artificial trees. There are lots of those.