Business rents trees for holidays, then finds permanent home
By PATTY MAMULA
For the Capital Press
John Fogel has a unique Christmas tree business. He buys 6- and 7-foot conifer trees, balled and bagged, from growers for $40 a tree and sells them after Christmas for $10 each.
He makes money by renting the living Christmas trees to Portland, Ore., families during the holidays. He delivers the potted Christmas trees to homes on Dec. 16 and picks them up a few days after New Year's. He charges $70 to $100 for the service, depending on when the tree is ordered.
Fogel started his business, The Original Living Christmas Tree Company, in 1992.
The idea to sell living Christmas trees came to him following a volunteer stint mulching cast-off holiday trees. He hit upon the idea of reclaiming the trees and selling them for transplanting at a bargain price.
"There are only about 10 other places that deliver potted, live Christmas trees, and they charge about $150. After Christmas, they pick up the trees and put them back in their nursery for sale," Fogel said.
He offers 10 varieties of cedar, juniper, pine, spruce and fir trees. Douglas fir is the most popular.
After-Christmas buyers include park departments, schools, landscapers and individuals. The $10 price has been the same for the past 18 years. Many customers purchase dozens of trees every year.
"The No. 1 reason people buy these trees is for a visual screen of their property," Fogel said. "That's a high priority in rural areas."
Historically, Fogel has sold around 300 trees every year and hopes to increase that this year.
Numerous reference letters mention the high quality, appealing shape and hardiness of the trees.
All orders for the potted Christmas trees are placed online.
Those who are interested in buying the trees also fill out orders online.
"There's mad demand for these things as Christmas trees," Fogel said.