Published: Dec 06, 2005 08:03 PM
Modified: Aug 23, 2006 04:51 PM
'Look for a perfect shape'
Chris Worley, 28, of Chapel Hill, has managed the Cranberry Tree Farm Christmas tree lot at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Weaver Dairy Road for five years. It's his seventh season working on a lot. He takes a 10 percent cut of the lot's proceeds. To get it, he puts in 10- to 13-hour days, seven days a week, from Thanksgiving until Dec. 23.Here's what he said to staff writer Matt Dees about his job."I have several customers, they'll be here two or three hours going around looking at trees. I really work with 'em trying to help them find a perfect tree."They always think my opinion counts; it's really their tree they're putting in their house. They want to know what I think the best tree is. My best tree may be different than what they're looking for, but they always want my opinion."I look for fullness and a perfect shape and not many holes."But then there's some customers that like holes where they can hang large decorations. Some people don't like heavy trees. It's just all different shapes and sizes people want."I price 'em on the lot. We try to range anywhere from $8 to $10 a foot. Then, you know, we base it on the shape of the tree. If we think it's going to be a perfect tree, of course it's going to be higher than a normal tree. It's so fast now I just look at a tree and I can throw a price on it. I really don't have to study it. If it has a couple wild branches here and there, we'll try to clip 'em and shape 'em up to try to get 'em looking as good as possible. We've sold about 150, 175 trees so far this year. We get like three or four truckloads the first couple of weeks. We set up about 88 trees out here so people can look at 'em. But we have another 200, 250 back in the tent. We'll probably be getting another 150."We try to judge it just right so we're close to what our sales are each year. That way we're not having to throw away trees. We'll just take 'em to the landfill, and they'll turn 'em into mulch."We hate to do it, but we have to throw away about 20 to 40. We normally got it down to about a science so we know what the lot does each year."We really try to push 'em the last week. We really try to get 'em out the door. We do have people come in wanting a tree on the 23rd. They wait that long because they think we're just going to give it away. We have to work with 'em and try to sell it to 'em. We try to make every dollar we can because we got so many people working. We've got to pay them."I try to get out and be friendly. I'll have some candy canes here for the kids. I try to make it as fun as possible. I'll get out there and play with the kids, you know, making them laugh. Actually, the other night, this little boy I was playing with, he was maybe 4 years old. He kept falling down, kept getting muddy, and I was like, 'Your mama and daddy are going to get mad at me 'cause I'm making you get muddy.' But they didn't care. If (children) run into a tree, we kind of brace ourselves. But we can't be strict about it. We try to make it fun for the families."There's a lot of work involved. By the time Christmas comes, you're ready for a break. I'm about sick of the smell. You get so wore out and you have sap all over you. By the time Santa Claus comes, I'm glad he's coming because I don't have to see the trees for another year."
Contact staff writer Matt Dees at 932-8760 or email@example.com