Jacksonville church not selling Christmas trees for first time in decades due to shortage

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For the first time in decades, a local church will not be selling Christmas trees this year.

Mandarin United Methodist Church says a shortage is to blame.

“Tradition; every year I have been [coming] for 24 years,” Sidney Little told Action News Jax at the church’s pumpkin patch.

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Little has been getting pumpkins and trees from the church for decades.

The pumpkins families like the Littles buy generate around $100,000 for the church.

Soon, the pumpkins would be cleared out to make way for live Christmas trees. But that’s not happening this year, says coordinator Conley Hobbie.

“It takes about ten, or eight-to-ten years to grow a tree to where you can sell it. Ten years ago, we had a recession and a lot of tree farmers got out of the business back then and it’s just kind of progressed through the years with that problem,” he said.

Hobbie added that recent fires on the West Coast mean more people are buying trees from the East Coast.

Throw the supply chain shortage into the mix, and you have the “perfect storm,” Hobbie added.

Hobbie says the church once sold around 1,500 trees in its heyday. He says supply has slowly dwindled to around 500 trees, but he wasn’t expecting his vendor in South Carolina not to be able to supply any trees at all this year.

“See I don’t know! That’s a good question because I just found out about it,” Devon Mike said when asked what his family is going to do about a Christmas tree this year.

Mike had been looking forward to letting his son, Carter, pick out a Christmas tree at the church in the coming weeks. Now, he has to make new plans.

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As for Little: “It’s not going to be the same.”

He and Mike say supporting the church’s pumpkin patch this year is more important than ever.