Kim Polito; Paloma Garth, 6; and Anthony Garth are pictured with a Christmas tree at the Royal Oak Shrine Dad’s Club Christmas tree sale Nov. 24. Those in the market for a Christmas tree may need to act early to get one this year.

Kim Polito; Paloma Garth, 6; and Anthony Garth are pictured with a Christmas tree at the Royal Oak Shrine Dad’s Club Christmas tree sale Nov. 24. Those in the market for a Christmas tree may need to act early to get one this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Christmas tree crunch reported across the nation

‘It’s only a shortage if you don’t buy it in time’

By: Mark Vest | Metro | Published December 8, 2021

 Royal Oak Shrine Dad’s Club member and volunteer Chuck Tyrrell puts a fresh cut on the bottom of a tree during a Christmas tree sale Nov. 24. Christmas  tree shortages have been reported in the United States.

Royal Oak Shrine Dad’s Club member and volunteer Chuck Tyrrell puts a fresh cut on the bottom of a tree during a Christmas tree sale Nov. 24. Christmas tree shortages have been reported in the United States.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 The Royal Oak Shrine Dad’s Club Christmas tree sale features a variety of trees. Despite reports of shortages, trees have been available for purchase this year.

The Royal Oak Shrine Dad’s Club Christmas tree sale features a variety of trees. Despite reports of shortages, trees have been available for purchase this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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METRO DETROIT — After months of hearing about and experiencing the effects of supply chain and labor shortages, those in the market for a Christmas tree may have some concerns about a shortage of those, as well.

There have been reports of Christmas tree shortages throughout the United States, and Royal Oak resident J.D. Armstrong, who runs the Royal Oak Shrine Dad’s Club Christmas tree sale, provided an explanation for it.

“Back in, I think it was like 2009, when there was a recession going on, they didn’t plant as many trees,” he said. “I think that’s affecting us now, 10, 11 years later, because that’s usually how long it takes to grow your typical-size Christmas tree. I could see it being affected like it is this year, probably into next year, and maybe the year after that. Hopefully not, but I think once the trees they planted in, say, 2012 are mature in 2024, we’ll have rebounded completely.”

When discussing the Christmas tree shortage coinciding with supply chain and labor shortages, Armstrong said, “It’s crazy that it’s working out that way.”

However, he acknowledged that one has nothing to do with the other and that it’s just “hitting at a bad time.”

Despite the reports of shortages, from the perspective of Michigan Christmas Tree Association Executive Director Amy Start, there is no reason to fret.

Part of the reason for her optimism is how high Michigan ranks in Christmas tree production.

“We’re third in the country in Christmas tree production, so anybody looking for a Christmas tree will be able to find one,” Start said. “However, if you have a farm that you usually like to go to, they may end up closing early, so I do suggest people shop early this year. Don’t wait till a week or so before Christmas; the farm that you may go to may be closed.”

She explained why.

“The reason for that is a lot of these farms maybe have, they’ll have choose-and-cut operation, but they also offset some of their tree inventory with pre-cut trees from wholesale Christmas tree farms, and that’s where you’re seeing a little bit of the shortage coming in, because maybe in the past, they’ve been able to get 300 pre-cut trees from a wholesaler, and this year some have canceled totally on the choose-and-cut farm, or maybe they’ve delivered 100 trees,” Start said. “So that’s some of the shortage we’re seeing.”

It isn’t just real trees that have had reported shortages. Armstrong said artificial trees are “all stuck on container ships out in the Pacific Ocean.”

Armstrong said 1,350 trees were sold last year via Shrine’s sale. He ordered 1,600 this year, with his order placed in August.

“I have two suppliers that I have been using for the last few years, both out of northern Michigan,” he said. “We did not have a supply issue this year. … I gave them a heads up early that I was gonna be having a somewhat larger order this year, and they were able to accommodate us.”

Armstrong said he was pleasantly surprised when he learned he would be able to fulfill his order this year.

“We get nine different varieties of trees,” he said. “In the past, we have ordered some larger ones. We’re not able to fulfill those, like 11-, 12-, 13-footers. They’re able to fulfill some of it, but not everything I asked for. But as far as inventory goes, they were able to fulfill everything that I asked for.”

Armstrong said the most popular Christmas trees are usually 8- to 10-foot Fraser firs. To that end, he said, “I was able to get everything I wanted.”

The Shrine Christmas tree lot opened the day before Thanksgiving and has a projected tear-down date of Dec. 19. However, Armstrong said, “I think we’re gonna be sold-out long before then.”

He said the price range for trees is anywhere from $25 for a tabletop to $300 for 15-footers.

His mentality regarding tree shortages is that, “It’s only a shortage if you don’t buy it in time.”

“I invite everybody to visit our lot,” Armstrong said. “We have trees of all different sizes, of all different price ranges. I think the big thing to remember with our trees is that everything we raise goes right back to the kids, right back to the school.”

The Shrine Grade School Dad’s Club Christmas tree lot is located at Shrine Catholic Grade School, which is located near 12 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue.

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