Why your Christmas tree costs more — again

Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

"I ask for 200 trees, they give me 20," Lopez said. "I go to another distributor and he gives me 50. It took forever."

And the quality of the trees is down: "I had to look at 100 trees before I could find 10 that I wanted," Lopez said.

Most consumers will find the quality difference acceptable, and pay up; such is the cost of keeping families in festive moods. But for some, the difference in price this year will put trees out of reach.

For four years, Errol H. Segal, who operates Active Recycling Co. in the Chesterfield Square neighborhood of South Los Angeles, has been giving free Christmas trees to anyone who brings in recyclables to sell.

Ashley Cano, 25, and her husband, Laccarri Ogletree, rounded up whatever they could find to recycle so they could get in on the free tree offer. Otherwise, she said, they would have a hard time affording one.

"This is even more great," Cano said, "because I just lost my job at Subway after working there four years."

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Segal handed out 80 trees the first year. This year, he gave away nearly 100 on the first day, out of a 400-tree stash.

"The first comment I've been hearing from people is that Christmas tree prices have just gone out of sight," Segal said. "Next year, I'm going to go for 1,000 trees."

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