Retailers anticipate big weekends for Christmas tree sales

Local News

Businesses are preparing for Black Friday, and that includes tree retailers.

This Thanksgiving weekend and the first weekend of December are expected to be some of the busiest for Christmas tree sales.

Richard Tajiri, also known as Mr. Christmas, is Hawaii’s largest importer of Christmas trees. He’s been selling Christmas trees in Hawaii for the past four decades, and supplies them to major businesses and retailers throughout the state.

This year, Tajiri is bringing in about 4,300 trees from the Pacific Northwest, which is slightly less than last year due to a fungal disease called interior needle blight. He’s had to thoroughly inspect each tree.

“If the needles, when you shake it, if it doesn’t fall, then you have to figure out a way to scrape it all out, and sometimes that is difficult,” Tajiri said. “They’re not bad and they’re not going to cause a hazard. There is no pest or fungus. They just get kind of brown in color.”

Another factor, according to Tajiri, is that several West Coast growers are transitioning from Christmas trees farms to vineyards. He may eventually source trees from Wisconsin.

“They don’t have the bug problems that we have on the West Coast. They have the cold weather, so all of those pests are gone in October,” Tajiri explained. “It’s a matter of how we can coordinate it to bring them into Hawaii, otherwise trucking charges are really expensive.”

Tajiri is awaiting a large shipment of trees that have already passed inspection. They will be delivered to two lots, which open Wednesday — one off University Avenue and another near Toys “R” Us at Pearlridge Center.

Prices range from about $30 to $100 for 7- to 8-foot trees.

Walmart is already selling Christmas trees, while Don Quijote will start selling trees this Saturday. City Mill says it will start selling trees sometime this week.

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