Millions of people across the country go looking for just the right Christmas tree this time of year. And right here in McDuffie County that search can come to an end.
Several places around the county have trees available for purchase. But what may surprise some is that the grocery stores no longer sell live trees.
Anthony Langham places a tree in a stand at Carriage Lane.
According to Mike Bright, Wal-Mart co-manager, artificial trees are the only ones available at his store because the live kind just didn't sell. Bi-lo Manager Rick McCorkle said he thought the elimination of live tree sales may be a company-wide thing this year.
For Dearing resident Mona Hudson, live versus artificial wasn't a question she was prepared to answer definitively. She likes the advantages of both.
"I have an artificial one in my dining room and a real one in my sun room," she said. "...My dining room window is the one that shows to the road. I only have a small little area, so I had to find a small little tree. When I found the perfect thing, I kept it from year to year. So it's artificial."
Most everyone knows which stores carry artificial trees. But now that live tree sales are becoming more scarce within the county, the few places that sell them are staying busy.
At the Carriage Lane Tree Lot, Owner Irene Fulmer said tree hunters can find precut Fraser Firs from four to 11 feet. They range in price from $20 all the way up to $143. The lot is open seven days a week from early morning to 9 p.m. on weekdays and even later on weekends.
Irene Fulmer helps a customer look for a tree at the Carriage Lane lot.
A new addition to the tree sales in Thomson is Smokey Mountain Trees located in the Fresh Market lot across Washington Road from Captain D's. Lot manager B.J. James said he has six to nine foot North Carolina Fraser Firs available for $45 to $60, and his lot is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until Christmas Eve.
Six to eight foot Fraser Firs are also available at McDuffie Feed and Seed in the $29-$50 price range. The trees are for sale during the store's hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
John Lokey's Tree Farm, located east of Thomson off Hwy. 78 has Virginia Pines available for around $20. People can come and choose a tree, have it cut and take it home on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
When it comes to picking the perfect ornament rack, Mr. James said it all has to do with the beauty of the tree. He said the fun comes in the search, and people look for full branches and a symmetrical shape. But most importantly, he said picking a live tree gives people one that is unique.
"You get an artificial tree; you'll just buy it in a box. The next door neighbor is going to have one just like it," he said. "‚Ä¶But if you get a live tree, each individual one is going to be different."
In addition to the shape, one thing that keeps Mrs. Hudson buying a live tree every year is the smell. Mr. James agreed.
"You can't smell aluminum foil. I don't care what you do to it," he said.
Where to buy
Carriage Lane Tree Lot - 4 to 11 foot precut Fraser Firs from $20 to $143. Hours: M-F, morning to 9 p.m. Sat. - Sun. morning to 10 p.m. until Christmas Eve.
Smokey Mountain Trees (located in the Fresh Market lot) - 6-9 foot precut Fraser Firs from $45 to $60. Hours: open 24/7 until Christmas Eve.
McDuffie Feed and Seed - 6 to 8 foot precut Fraser Firs from $29-$50. Hours: M-F, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sat., 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
John Lokey's Tree Farm (located east of Thomson off Hwy 78) - Virginia Pines around $20. Hours: Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Watering tip from McDuffie Feed and Seed: Use boiling water the first time the tree is watered. This melts the solidified sap and allows the tree to absorb water again.