‘Busier than it’s ever been’: Winnipeggers wait up to two hours for Christmas trees amid shortage

Winnipeggers looking to spruce up their homes this holiday season with a real Christmas tree might have a hard time finding one this year.

“It’s been super crazy. The number of trees we’ve sold has been astronomical compared to past years,” said Tim McManus at the 67th Winnipeg Scout Christmas Tree Lot

It’s a similar trend at RBM Gardens. After finishing its wholesale orders this week, the tree dealer is now selling to the public.

“It’s so much busier than it’s ever been,” said Verna McGuckin, owner of RBM Gardens

On Saturday morning, the line stretched for nearly two kilometres, with some waiting more than two hours for a tree.

It’s a wait they say was worth it.

“Well, it’s the spirit of the season. It’s tradition. We’ve always had real trees,” said Bob and Heather Hobson, who waited in line for an hour and a half for a tree.

“We like the smell in the house and we just think it’s great having a natural tree,” said Dan Panaro, who waited in line for more than two hours.

However, tree supply this season doesn’t meet demand.

“In certain areas, there was drought. In others, there was like a gypsy moth issue. In another, it was a late frost in the spring. So all the new growth got frozen and stunted the trees,” explained McGuckin.

Tough conditions mixed with more Americans buying trees has led to a shortage across North America.

It’s creating problems for retailers like Paul’s Greenhouse, which sold out of trees in its first week.

“It’s a financial hit, not just this year, but for every customer who doesn’t get a tree, they might not come back next year. So there are long-term ramifications to this,” said Norbert Turcotte, one of the owners of the greenhouse.

As for stock at RBM Gardens, McGuckin says they have a selection of local Manitoba spruce trees to tide them over for another week.

“So there’s a nice local, economical option for people and we expect to have those for another 10 days or so,” she said.

The 67th Winnipeg Scout Christmas Tree Lot also says they are expecting another shipment soon.

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