When Santa Clarita resident Doug Bennett was 14, he found himself selling Christmas trees in the San Fernando Valley with his friend, who was in the business.
So Bennett decided to embark on the journey of opening up his own business.
Now 55, he’s worked as vice president of a Christmas tree company, and has his own that sells out of three locations in Santa Clarita.
“I was fond of the business,” the former Hart High School track coach said. “I liked all the aspects of it. Even though I could’ve taken a desk job somewhere with a marketing degree, I chose to sell Christmas trees. It was fun. And it makes people happy.
“It was the perfect fit for me,” he said about the business that operates out of a lot near Central Park off Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus, and another on The Old Road in Stevenson Ranch daily throughout the month of December.
Since 1997, Bennett has worked to keep the local customers happy. Usually, he sells out of the College of the Canyons’ parking lot as well, but this year construction prevented him from doing so.
“We’ll be back next year in that spot, don’t worry,” he said.
Selling a fresh batch of trees requires months of planning. Bennett goes to Oregon in the summertime, usually around July, to check out the fields of trees on Christmas tree farms.
He goes and meets with the growers to discuss the season that year. Almost every decade or so, they experience a shortage or excess of Christmas trees, he said, in line with how many were planted in years prior.
“The trees have to be sheared, shaped, and then I send them a timeline of when I need them and they cut them just before I send a truck up there,” he said.
Sometimes, growers will choose to focus on growing hazelnuts instead, he said, and it leads to an inconsistency in supply when the trees are fully grown in seven years.
This year, the supply was a little lower, which drives up the prices of trees — but there are still enough.
Bennett plans to sell about 8,000 to 9,000 trees, all hand-selected and examined for quality.
After ordering from the Christmas tree growers in the summer, he hires truck drivers to go up there and pick them up. Lots get set up by September, when Bennett also sells pumpkins.
The trees themselves go up for sale the day after Thanksgiving each year.
For maximum care, Bennett suggests keeping the trees in water.
“We do a fresh cut on the tree before it goes out the gate, and we sell bowls and stands that people can use to keep the tree in water, and preservatives too,” he said. “It’s a matter of not putting it next to the fire place, not putting it under a heater, as well. If they just keep that tree watered, they should be in good shape of having it last throughout the season.”
The trees are sold on Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 24925 The Old Road and 27000 Bouquet Canyon Road.