How to Setup a Tree Lot
How to Sell Christmas Trees
Location, Location and Location.
This is so important even 50 or a 100 yards can make all the difference. The ultimate location is a highly, highly visible lot with great parking in an area where everyone comes to shop and eat. We had a great lot where our trees were 15 feet from a four lane road which had a traffic count of over 60,000 cars a day. We were in an out parcel of a large shopping center with Outback, McDonald’s, Burger King, I-Hop, Arby’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is where the 60,000 people in a 5 mile square area came to do commerce. This was a place where people got their families together to eat and shop. This is perfect because you need to be in an area where families can conveniently bring their whole family to pick a Fraser Fir Christmas Tree. You do not want to be in a magnet mall where people drive 10 plus miles because it will be hard for a mom and dad to get their family together to pick out a tree.
Flow. Where will people park? Where will you prepare the trees to be loaded on their cars? Where will you store trees? Where will trees be paid for? Where will workers wait for customers?
Place the trees where you get free advertising. Put the parking where it is safe and convenient to load trees. It is nice to have the parking within 50 feet or less. Your workers will love your foresight.
Build your storage area for trees.
You should allow 1.5 sq. feet per tree. We like building a corral out of 4×4’s for the upright posts and 2×6×10’s for the backboards that run from post to post. We look at the travel path of the sun and place the back of the corral to south and the opening of the corral to the north. This shades the trees from the sun which can easily burn a tree that is still tightly wrapped in string.
Place sales office between trees and parking
Place trees on the lot.
You can use 3/4 inch re-bar pounded into the ground with 2-3 feet in the ground and 3 feet left above the ground. The tree is slipped over the re-bar and can simply be tied on with string.
Other ways to display trees are to drill the trees and then use steel racks with pins on each corner that are 5″ high. This is more expensive in up front costs but it allows you to sell stands with the same 5″ pins and you can recoup your cost over time.
Trees should be set up in clusters of four . So the customer can walk around and look at each tree and then you should have pathways going by these trees both vertically and horizontally. You do not want the trees too space out or too crowded.
Lights are a necessity for advertising and so a customer can see to buy and night and feel safe doing it. Light the lot, the area where you prepare the trees with a free cut and baling and where you load trees onto the car. The light does not have to be bright spot lights but you can use construction work lights with cages that come in a 100 foot rolls these can be bought at most any electrical supply house. You do want to use cheap spot lights from Lowe’s to light your sign.
Be sure your electrical service s completely equipped with no ground fault receptacles and make sure you have enough electricity. You can use a temporary pole if there is no electrical service or you can use a generator. The temporary pole is nicer because the generator makes a lot of noise and you have to keep filling it up with gasoline.
Have signs made that have large letters and have a short message.
Buy all the stands, shade cloth (we suggest lightweight winter protection material), wreaths (make display boards), tree baler, twine for tying trees on car. We recommend buying price tags and pricing each tree individually .
Do not forget getting a business permit and making sure that the area you choose is zoned for selling trees.
Leases for good vacant commercial properties usually can be obtained for one or two thousand dollars per month but can run as high as $7000. A tree lot can be put on a green space but beware of low lying areas which will become a muddy mess with rain and a lot of foot traffic. Parking lots are great but you will have to use a rack system or a more primitive leaning system to display trees. Light poles often by code must raise lighting 12 feet above the ground and can be built into your display racks.
Do not forget to put your storage area where a tractor trailer can easily access it for unloading.
Entertainment: Christmas music, hot chocolate, fire pit (make sure it is enclosed and safe), pony rides, reindeer (you can rent them see the web), Santa, taking pictures and posting them on the web are all things that you can do to make this a fun experience for the family. Let the kids run through the trees they love it but make sure that it is safe with no holes, pins that are uncovered (use 5 foot sections of pvc pipe to cover pins).
Partner up with civic groups, churches and non profits. Give them $5-10 for every tree they sell. Get them to advertise in their newsletters. You can partner up with more than one at a time. Get them to volunteer one Saturday or Sunday a piece to help with labor. Be careful of how much money you spend on labor this can drain your profits.
Good luck, have fun and call us if you have any questions on how to sell Christmas Trees. Paul cell 828 387 6139