There are 21 days left until Christmas. There’s still time to get your tree, if you haven’t already. Much like a fur coat, this FIR TREE looks great when its fluffed out a bit. That’s the key to selling a great Christmas Tree says tree grower Steffin Gallupe. And the fluffing is apparently good for Gallupe’s business, selling trees out of the Marden’s parking lot since mid November. Steffin Gallupe is an owner of County Produce, a Christmas Tree farm in Mars Hill and says he’s “doing real good, we’ve sold almost 200 so far and I’ve been here this might be my 15th year selling trees here.” And knowing where to find him and his trees is not only good business for Gallupe but keeps repeat customers like Judy Bernard coming back year after year. Judy Bernard is a longtime Christmas Tree customer of Gallupe and explains “I like to support him and do whatever I can and if we don’t get it at a farm we get them here.” Local Christmas tree growers like Richards Christmas Tree Farm in Mapleton say sales are up over years past and overall business is good. But the past few years haven’t been without challenges. The economic downturn and tightening of consumer fiscal belts, have impacted tree growers. They admit they’ve had to raise some prices for their product to stay in business. “There’s a challenge for farmers as well, our costs have gone up fertilizer costs have gone up chemicals and our labor and everything associated with farming has gone up as well,” says Gaye Richards, coowner of Richards Christmas Tree Farm in Mapleton. “We always sold our trees for 25 dollars and with the shipping costs and everything labor costs we raised our prices five years ago to 30 dollars a tree and we’re flexible on that with some people we sell them mas we can and there’s a Christmas tree for every pocketbook,” says Gallupe. Local tree growers say opt to buy a live tree. Its great for their business and a great way to put money back into the local economy.” Richards says “if people stayed around here and made most of the purchases around this area we actually would have a very good economy but when people travel south and they do mail order and things I think that’s the reason why our economy is suffering.” “We have one every year its for the grandkids and family,” adds Bernard. And its helping GROW local tree businesses as well. Shawn Cunningham, NS 8.