Thursday, October 30, 2014

By JASON ARMSTRONG

Tribune-Herald staff writer

'Tis the season to pick out a Christmas tree.

Fortunately for holiday revelers, this week Hilo businesses and organizations again will be offering "tree-mendous" selections.

Among them is Paradise Plants Home & Garden Center, which has ordered larger Washington-grown trees -- some up to 14 feet tall -- to satisfy customer preference, owner Lesley Hill said.

"We're going to stick with our tradition of having beautiful Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving," Hill said of sales that will start Friday. "We have more than last year because we ran out last year and some of our steady customers were upset."

This year, Paradise Plants shoppers will be greeted by a larger display area, more varieties and taller trees, she said.

"People want big trees," Hill said. "A lot of people have been telling us that since the year's been kind of sucky, they want to go all out for Christmas."

Hill said Monday that while she's yet to set prices, she expects them to be similar to last year's, which ranged from $25 to $195 apiece.

"We always let people pick out their perfect tree," she said.

Civic-minded shoppers may consider purchasing a Christmas tree from the Hilo Y's Men and Women Service Club. The club is hoping to raise $5,000 for the Island of Hawaii YMCA, said President Lance Niimi.

"We ordered 245 trees -- not that much," he said, noting they fit in a 24-foot-long shipping container that's half the size of tree shipments the club purchased before the economy tanked.

"We're going to unload them and stock our lot on Wednesday, and sales will start on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving," Niimi said.

He thanked Wayne Kamitaki of Ben Franklin Crafts on Kilauea Avenue for donating parking lot space, along with a tent and utility connections.

Floral Construction and Development employees helped set up tree stands and fencing, and Big Island Substance Abuse Council volunteers will assist with the sales, Niimi said.

The club charges higher prices than some competitors because the annual event serves as a fundraiser, he said.

"It goes to a good cause," Niimi said of helping the local YMCA.

The trees, which are watered daily to preserve their freshness, will be offered at prices ranging from $55 to $110, he said.

"They're a little bit more expensive (this year) because we had higher shipping costs," Niimi said.

KTA Super Stores will sell Christmas trees from its Puainako store starting at noon Wednesday, said Debbie Arita, administrative assistant to Barry Taniguchi, company president and CEO.

While the volume hasn't changed, walk-in tree purchases will be available only at the Puainako outlet, said Arita, who was unsure about specific quantities or pricing.

"Our other stores have taken pre-orders for Christmas trees," she said of strictly reserved purchases, the deadline for which has passed.

Last year, KTA sold its entire inventory of mainland trees within a couple of weeks, "so come early," Arita said.

Also exclusively at its Puainako store, KTA again will offer to apply artificial "snow" to the trees, a process called flocking, she said.

"That's been popular recently," Arita said. "We're going to be doing a lot of flocking this year."

Other Hilo retailers planning to sell trees again this year include Walmart and Home Depot, the latter of which will offer two different varieties -- Noble firs and Douglas firs.

Email Jason Armstrong at jarmstrong@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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