NIPOMO, Calif. - With Christmas right around the corner, that means one thing...Christmas trees! You can already see some Christmas tree lots popping up across the Central Coast.
But farms that actually grow their own Christmas trees for sale are becoming more rare, especially in this part of the state. But Holloway Christmas Tree Farm in Nipomo has been open for a long time, and they say big businesses are making it harder for them to break even.
Mary Thomas has been getting her Christmas trees from Holloway Farms for years now. She says, "you just can't beat it. That forest smell just brings me back to being home. We love it."
She's one of the many repeat customers who come year after year for an authentic Christmas tree experience.
Carl Holloway, owner of Holloway Farms, says, "we sell an experience. Bringing family out here and having memories that you'll have your whole life."
Holloway and his wife Debbie own Holloway Farms, where the tradition of selling Christmas trees goes way back. Holloway's father started selling the trees 50 years ago, back in 1962.
Despite Holloway's Christmas Tree Farm being here so long, they say there have been challenges to keeping it standing.
"We suffered the same economic things as everyone else," says Holloway. "We crashed as everyone else did."
In particular, Holloway says water for the farm can cost them upwards of $10,000 a year. He also says wholesale competitors present another challenge.
"We have to be able to make a living," says Holloway. "So then charging enough for a tree when some of the giant stores are bringing them in for one-third less than I can buy them for, it gets interesting."
A Christmas tree farm in Buellton closed up shop in recent years, a fate that Holloway says might come to his farm. But for now, he is intent on keeping it open.
"As long as we can," says Holloway. "But if they pull the house out from under us, that's a whole other deal."
Holloway says that stores that sell artificial trees are also a threat to his business. Trying to get people to buy real trees is another challenge they face when this time of the year comes.
Fake trees have been gaining popularity but people are still buying the real thing, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Last year over 30 million real Christmas trees were purchased compared to about 9 million fake ones.
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