Annual Christmas tree sale starts today for Starling family

Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 27, 2014

By Ngoc Vo

For many people in Troy, the Starling Christmas Tree Sale on Thanksgiving Day has become a tradition.

Buddy Starling started his business 15 years ago with a passion for Christmas and the value of the holiday tree.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Christmas trees are born to be cut, but the purpose they serve goes way beyond the physical tree,” Starling said. “What would Christmas be without a Christmas tree?”

Starling said he prefers fresh Christmas trees and there is a running joke in his family that the business’ slogan is “Real trees for real people.”

“I am a traditional man and I want a traditional-looking tree,” he said. “Like everybody, I love Christmas, and it won’t be complete without a real Christmas tree. (The business) began as a hobby and remains as a hobby.

“From the minute we opened the door of the (tree delivery) truck, we got the first whiff of the trees and it was the greatest moment.”

According to Starling, Troy is a big Christmas tree town. Starling receives more than 200 trees to the city every year, and said they will be sold out in about two weeks.

“Sixty percent of our trees will be sold the first weekend,” Starling said. “There will be a lot of people coming as we open at 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.”

“It’s really against my principal to be open on Thanksgiving, but many people have family members coming home for the holiday and come pick up a Christmas tree together, as a tradition.”

The greatest part of running his business was working with his customers, which Starling said a majority of them had become repeat customers from years past.

“We have met so many people who come to the tree lot every year,” he said. “It’s a good experience if you like being around people and sharing the Spirit of Christmas.”

The Christmas trees at Starling’s lot come from Trivett Tree Farm near Grandfather Mountain in Newland, the highest area in North Carolina, he said. All the trees are Fraser Firs, which he said is the (best for) Christmas trees.

“You cannot grow these in Alabama,” Starling said. “They only grow in cold climate.”

Customers coming to his tree lot have a wide variety of preferences so Starling tries to bring in many options.

“Christmas trees are just like people,” he said. “They come in different shapes and sizes, like different personalities. Some people like fat trees, some people like thin ones. Just pick out a tree that speaks to you.”

The key element to look for in a Christmas tree is freshness, according to Starling. Freshness affects needles retention, which is important an reason to avoid leaving a Christmas tree dry, he said.

“If you miss watering it, the bottom of the tree will harden and from that point on, it won’t take in any more water,” he said. “The dryer and closer to a heat source the tree is, the quicker it will lose needles.”

Starling said if taken good care of, a Christmas tree would stay viable for a good six weeks in the home.

“If you take good care of them and feed water to them like pets, their needles will last for weeks,” he said. “We do a fresh cut here so after you buy, immediately put (the tree) in water.

“Depending on the size of the (tree) stand, some hold more water than others, the owner of the tree should be conscious of the level of water in it, especially for the first 10 days.”

For Will Starling, who has been working with his father for the whole 15 years the Starlings have been in business, the unloading of Christmas tree the day before Thanksgiving has become a family tradition. Will said he had learned the hard side of dealing with Christmas trees.

“I didn’t know how much a Christmas tree would weigh,” he said. “We got one over 15-feet tall. I learned how hard they could be to deal with.”

The price of Christmas trees range from $40 to $160 based on the height of the tree, according to Buddy Starling.

“A Christmas tree grows about a foot a year, so these have been growing for over a dozen years,” he said.

Buddy said his best sellers are the averaged size trees, which can range from 7 to 8 feet tall. People come to the lot, thinking the tree looks small. However, it often turns out to be much bigger in home.

The tree lot will be open today from 3 to 5 or 5:30 p.m. and will be open Friday morning at Terra Cotta.