CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Valeria Venegas led her family on the search for the perfect Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.
“I like it to be chubby,” she laughed.
Her family drove up from Virginia Beach to a busy lot in Chesterfield off Hull Street Road.
“We had to come up here because usually, we get it from Costco,” Venegas said. “But the truck didn’t come.”
Rob Gebhardt co-owns the family business, Holly Berry Christmas Trees. He considered Black Friday as their official opening day.
“What’s more exciting than picking out a Christmas tree?” Gebhardt asked.
His Uncle Bobby Reynolds has operated the lot for 46 years. However, like many industries these days, this holiday staple is in short supply.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we are going get the other 1,100 trees we ordered,” Gebhardt explained. “We may only receive another 400, 500 trees and that’ll be it. Our supplier is also running quite low.”
He said you can partly blame the 2008 recession for the scarcity.
“A lot of farmers did not plant for three, four and five years. It takes these Frasier firs one year to grow a foot,” Gebhardt stated.
Diana Burns-Mayfield and her husband Gary Mayfield snagged a 10-footer for $191.
“They are more expensive this year, but it goes along with everything else these days, gas prices, groceries -- everything is more expensive,” Mayfield said.
Holly Berry was also forced to raise their prices this year.
“There’s definitely a jump in price. We’ve seen our prices go up on average across the trees $15 to $25 for our small trees up nine feet. Anything over nine feet, like our 10-to-15-foot trees you can expect anywhere from a $40 to $100 price increase over last year," Gephardt stated.
Last year, they sold out of trees by December 15. Gephardt urged families to buy early as they expect to possibly run out of supply even earlier this year.
At 1 p.m. Friday, the lot’s last shipment of trees for the entire season arrived.
But, lucky for the Venegas, they found their chubby tree.
“This one is good!” Valeria Venegas said with a smile.