OSHKOSH — Thanksgiving has now passed, and preparations for Christmas are in full swing for many in northeast Wisconsin. Perhaps the most famous of these preparations is putting up the Christmas tree, but customers might have a harder time getting their hands on one this season than in years past.
Dan Cartwright is the owner of Cartwright's Trees & Wreathes and has been selling trees in Oshkosh for 50 years. He says he's seeing a shortage in taller trees this season.
“There was a drought a few years back, and now that drought is showing up in the trees that are running nine-, 10-, 11-feet tall.” he said.
Over his 50 years selling trees, Cartwright has seen a lot of competition come and go, but lately has noticed a lot of places have stopped selling trees altogether.
“Some of the big box stores don’t have trees this year..." he said. "I know Fleet farm doesn’t have them and they always did.”
Cartwright also said he's been hit hard by inflation, but has managed to avoid major increases to his prices.
“The prices maybe went up a little bit, but not bad." he said. "The fuel charges this year kinda got to us. We were paying $90, $100, $110 to fill the truck up…other years it was $60, $70 maybe.”
Erin Pinch—one of Cartwright's customers—is feeling the squeeze of fewer options and higher prices though.
“This is actually our second stop," she said, "We’re from the Ripon area and the place that we’ve gone to does not sell trees anymore so we tried this.”
Pinch says year's tree—a nine foot Balsam Fir—cost $80; that is well below the $120 she paid for last year's tree, but still more than the $50 to $60 she said she spent for a tree before COVID. She says buying a real tree is still worth it though, for the nostalgia.
“I grew up with real Christmas trees and I just like the smell of Christmas trees in my house."