Waiting until the last minute might get you a good deal on a raggedy tree.
But Jack Corcoran of Winder seemed pretty pleased when he shelled out $5 for one of the few trees still standing Tuesday at Lowe’s in Gainesville.
"That’s a nice tree," Corcoran said as two Lowe’s employees bagged his tree. "I see absolutely nothing wrong with that tree."
Corcoran, whose wife is Hungarian, always buys his trees on or around Christmas Eve because of his wife’s family traditions.
The Hungarian tradition saved Corcoran a good bit of money. Lowe’s marked its tree prices down to half price and lower earlier this week, said store manager Gary McGilvray.
Tuesday morning, Lowe’s on Skelton Road had only about 40 of an initial 1,700 trees left in the store, McGilvray said. The store had a flurry of customers the weekend after Thanksgiving and the first two weekends of December, but tree sales had leveled off by Tuesday, he said.
While the season for Christmas shopping is in full gear, the season for Christmas tree sales is all but over. Kevin Adams, the Lowe’s employee who helped Corcoran with his tree, said only about six or seven people had purchased live trees Tuesday at Lowe’s.
"We sold two yesterday. It’s so slow (now)," said Kathy Cooper, who runs a family tree operation on Winder Highway. "The weekend before Christmas, you might just see one or two people a day before Christmas Eve. It’s real slow."
Cooper and her family have operated Cooper’s Christmas Tree Farm on Winder Highway for nearly 30 years. The family business offers Fraser firs cut in North Carolina and a "you cut" experience for Leyland cypress and Eastern red cedar trees growing on the lot.
While there are still trees left, Cooper said the family sold out of Fraser firs on Saturday. And until next Thanksgiving, the Cooper’s business is essentially closed.
"Officially, we were closed Monday," Cooper said.
"If somebody called and wanted a tree, we would go there and help them."
Last year, the Coopers sold a tree the day after Christmas, and though he never waits that long, Corcoran said waiting until the last minute has always worked out for him — even if it does cause him a little ribbing from his friends.
"I paid $5 last year. The year before I actually (bought) it on Christmas Eve and I paid $2, and the year before that I paid $1," Corcoran said. "So inflation’s hit me pretty hard of course, but I’m managing to survive."
Times clerk Megan Gill contributed to this report.