Sunday, November 28, 2021

I saw what you did there

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Q:  When is a business not a business?  

A: When it is a Christmas Tree Farm

A few hours earlier today, we were with the kids in Madison, Connecticut. We were heading home from Thanksgiving Weekend. Last minute, we decided to tag along with Tommy and Danielle to get their Christmas Tree. First Christmas in their new home! 

I was in charge of Konta our dog, so I was also in charge of photography. And I guess videography, if we want to get technical. Here is what struck me - but not until our ride home to New Jersey.

  • Trees are all $60 regardless of size, shape, or condition.
  • You are Paul Bunyan. They hand you a saw, and wish you good luck.
  • You pick the tree, you cut the tree, you haul the tree to your car.
It truly did not hit me until our 2+ hour drive home. Is this a business, or is this something else? And what other business - seasonal or otherwise - operates under such a model? 
  • The more you sell - the worse the quality of the product. (The good ones go fast).
  • The customer is always right - and - the customer is also always wrong.
  • There is a short window of opportunity - Christmas Trees are hard to sell on December 26th.
Hey Google: How long does it take to grow a Christmas Tree big enough to harvest? 

Hey Tom: Most tree varieties are ready to harvest at the popular height of 5 to 7 feet in around eight years. 

Damn, sounds like a terrible business. Except of course, when it is NOT a terrible business. 

Turns out that Christmas Trees are a very profitable cash crop for a small acreage farm. They are low maintenance, ideal for a spare time project, and can produce a good income for years to come. According to the American Christmas Tree Association (this is a thing) the average price of a Christmas Tree at a U-Cut lot was $74 in 2020. With 200 ready to harvest trees per acre, that is $14,800 of pretty close to net profit. 

And the market for live Christmas Trees is growing, as the buying public is turning it's back on plastic artificial trees in favor of the "real thing."  And, in addition to making a good income, Christmas Tree Farmers provide erosion control, wildlife habitat and improve the environment.  

So, I stand corrected. Ninety-Four Million U.S. Households will celebrate the holidays with AT LEAST ONE REAL Christmas Tree this year. And at the bargain price of $60 that would be $5.6B+ in sales - all very high in net profit. And all in around 30 days of active selling. Yeah, selling - I mean 30 days of  standing there, handing out a saw, and collecting the cash. And saying "See you next year!" 

Ho-Ho-Ho, now I want Garden Hoe for Christmas. 

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