MUSCODA - Will the current Covid-19 pandemic have an effect on the local Christmas tree market in 2020?
Tom Franklin, Muscoda, a 31-year veteran of selling Christmas trees in this community, says his tree supplier in northern Wisconsin thinks it may be a good year for the tree business. Perhaps with people staying home to avoid contacting, or spreading the virus, folks with have more time to decorate a tree for the holidays. And hopefully, a decorated tree in the living or family room can brighten days during an otherwise somewhat dark season. Some businesses have experienced increased activity as people remodel their houses or get in involved in hobbies while staying safe at home.
Tom has noticed in recent years that the number of people interested in tall Christmas trees is increasing. As a result he has 40 of the 12-footers on his lot at the corner of Highway 133 and Wisconsin Avenue. If someone likes the form of a 12-footer, but doesn’t want the height, Tom will cut it to the desired size.
As has been the case in recent years, the Frazier Fir seems to be a favorite for Christmas tree shoppers on Tom’s lot where he also has Balsam Fir, White Pine and Scotch Pine for sale.
He does some trimming of trees at the lot and those trimmed boughs are available at no cost for folks wanting to use them for decorations.
Tom brings his trees to Muscoda from a grower located about 200 miles north of Muscoda in the Wausau-Merrill area. During the summer he goes to a large tree plantation and selects and tags trees he is going to want to for the Christmas season and then trucks the freshly cut trees to Muscoda in time for the holidays.
Most of Tom’s trees are sheared for the desired shape and height. However, an increasing number of customers prefer an unsheared tree with a wild-tree look. Tom has some of those in stock and will shear them on the spot if desired.
Like everything else, the cost of Christmas trees has increased during the years. For several years after he started his lot, the standard price was $11 per tree. Now the price has been $35 a tree for the third year in a row.
Recognizing there are folks in the community who would love to have a Christmas tree but cannot afford one, for the last five years Tom has coordinated with Riverdale school staff as he donates 25 trees to be distributed without cost to designated families. Donating trees to churches, organizations or to the needy has been a tradition during the 55 years the Franklin family has been selling trees.
There was a time when a Muscoda Christmas tree seller didn’t need to go north to find tees – they were available locally. A 1962 issue of The Progressive carries a front page story and photograph noting: “Christmas trees by the thousands are now being cut from pine plantations near Muscoda and sent to neighboring and far away states. Some 15,000 of the holiday trees, grown between Muscoda and Blue River, have been shipped from here.”An accompanied photograph shows a crew of men loading a railroad box car with pine trees, “destined to brighten the holiday atmosphere in homes in California.”