Odell tree lot cuts prices because of recession

Now that December is here, Christmas trees are for sale throughout the area.

The smell of pine and fir can be found everywhere from big-box chains to department stores to small corner lots, and there is nothing like the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree to put you in the holiday spirit.

This year my family and I went Christmas tree shopping at the same place we went last year: the Hartson family front yard on Odell School Road (across from the old Odell Elementary School).

The Hartsons are originally from Connecticut, where they had a successful Christmas tree business for 10 years.

"We made all our trees $25 and would sell approximately 300 trees a season," Kariann Hartson said. "We were very known for quality and price, and our repeat customer base was fantastic.

"We made sure every year to give away a few trees to local churches and to families that were in time of need," she said. "It was a family affair, which was nice during the holiday season."

They moved to Concord three years ago to help their son, Coty, who wants to get into car racing.

"Coty has moved up to a late-model stock car this year. We are looking for some marketing partners to climb aboard and move up the racing ladder with him," she said. "He is a very talented young driver, and we would hate to see that go unnoticed."

This year the Hartsons rented a truck to haul the 130 trees they purchased from Cool Springs Nurseries in Boone down to Concord. I asked them how they determine their prices.

"We wanted to be affordable due to the economy situation," Hartson said. "Our biggest, most beautiful tree, which is up to 9 feet in height, is only $50. It really isn't about the money. It is more about helping people who need the help and being able to make sure some people can have a nice tree for their children on Christmas morning.

"Believe me: Our customers can't believe the trees we are selling for the small price. They are all telling us that the same tree elsewhere is selling for $90 to $110," Hartson said. "Sorry, but to me that is ridiculous."

You can tell that the Hartson family greatly enjoys selling their trees. That makes buying a tree from them a much more enjoyable experience than going to just a store.

"The best thing about selling trees is the people we meet," Hartson said. "We have met some of the nicest people these last two years doing this. It is fun to stand around the fire and chitchat with people you don't even know. Getting to know people and their stories is amazing."