PEORIA COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — In Mackinaw, store owner Brett Zehr was concerned he may need to get out of the Christmas tree business. His IGA store sells Christmas trees during the holiday season.
“I’ve looked into it greatly. Christmas tree farms are declining. There’s less and less farms, and trees are harder to get,” Zehr said.
Fewer trees from his vendor also meant an increase in prices. Zehr said the hike is now an additional $25 to $30 a tree. So Monday, he went to Facebook to ask his customers if they would still be interested in purchasing trees at a higher price.
“Ninety-eight percent of the people said, ‘hey that’ll still be cheaper than what we’ve paid last year,'” said Zehr.
Thirty minutes Northwest at Nena Ace Hardware in Peoria, it’s a different story.
“I haven’t heard anything. I heard it’s going to be like the same as last year. Pretty much here at Ace Hardware,” said Justin Trulock, store clerk at Ace Hardware.
At Ace Hardware the Christmas tree vendor the store contracts with sets up shop at the store averaging 500 tree sales a year. However, at IGA, Zehr goes to Wisconsin to pick up his trees. Last year he picked up about 150 but this year he’s expecting to only get 121.
“So they just had to cut everyone back because there’s so few farms left that there’s so many people wanting them they had to dilute how much everyone got,” said Zehr.