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Christmas trees deck the halls of big box stores

Sales kick off at major retailers, local growers also offering trees

State Department of Agriculture officials inspect Christmas trees coming into the state via Oahu. Trees have already started to go on sale at major Maui retailers. — STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE photo

Maui retailers have started selling fresh Christmas trees, giving residents a chance to purchase one before they even defrost the turkey this year.

Earlier this week, Walmart began selling Christmas trees from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Prices range from $34.97 to $109 for Noble firs and $50 for Douglas firs from 6 to 7 feet. At Costco, a container filled with trees was being unloaded in the parking lot Thursday morning, with the trees ready for sale by Friday. A sign in the store advertised 7- to 8-foot trees for $49.99.

At Lowe’s, spokeswoman Alice Lee said that “customers will begin seeing fresh Christmas trees in-store as early as this week.

“As consumers continue to spend more time at home, purchasing items to decorate indoor and outdoor spaces have become increasingly popular, including items for holiday decor and Christmas trees,” Lee said.

An associate at Home Depot said Thursday that trees had yet to arrive.

Gunther the German shepherd and Lulu the goldendoodle are ready to help owner Kelly Bass sell Norfolk pine trees for Christmas at their Kula farm. — KELLY BASS photo

Last year, about 93,000 Christmas trees were imported into Hawaii, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

The department’s Plant Quarantine Branch inspectors expect about the same amount of trees to arrive this year. About 90 percent of the trees come from Oregon and the rest from Washington state. No trees are arriving from the area in Washington state where the Asian giant hornets or “murder hornets” have been found, the department said in a news release.

But in an inspection by the Plant Quarantine Branch on Nov. 13 on Oahu, a 9-inch garter snake was found in one of the shipping containers of Christmas trees. The snake was alive but injured and died shortly after it was captured.

The snake was found after the shipment was held for secondary inspection due to a slug interception. A Pacific tree frog was among the other pests also found in the same container.

While the COVID-19 pandemic did not interrupt major retailers from selling Christmas trees, it did put the brakes on annual Christmas tree sales by the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise.

Christmas trees from the Pacific Northwest await inspection by state Department of Agriculture officials on Oahu. About 90 percent of the roughly 93,000 Christmas trees that Hawaii imports come from Oregon and the rest from Washington state. Some local residents and gardens Upcountry also offer locally grown trees. — STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE photo

President Ronald “Skeeter” Stebbins said that a lot of people cannot afford a $100 tree this year, as some may have lost their jobs during the pandemic. He said money needs to go toward food.

“We are going to do it again” in the future, Stebbins said of the tree sales.

The club’s Christmas tree sales benefited the West Maui community and schools. The club had developed a niche selling trees in Lahaina with fewer retail outlets offering trees in West Maui.

People who want to buy a locally grown tree can find some options Upcountry.

Kelly Bass in the Kula Glen subdivision is selling her Norfolk pine trees at prices that have not changed in 18 years, she said.

The odorless, soft-needle and non-shedding trees are 5 to 12 feet tall and cost $10 a foot. Bass is selling them from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20, as well as via appointment by calling 280-7404. Gates will be open on sale days at 742 Holopuni Road.

Bass is requesting that everyone wear a mask. She will continue to help customers pick out, cut and load trees into their vehicles. Customers should bring a rope if they plan to put the trees on top of their vehicles.

Kula Botanical Gardens is also holding its annual Christmas tree sales from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4, 5, 6, 12 and 13. The McCord family is selling fragrant Monterey Pine trees as they have for decades on their farm at 638 Kekaulike Ave. For information, call 878-1715.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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