Alabama resident, business owner travels 1,000 miles for Christmas trees

Published 5:15 am Sunday, December 19, 2021

For Alabama resident Mandi Cameron, traveling 1,000 miles to buy Christmas trees isn’t crazy. It’s just business.

Cameron co-owns Pop’s Midtown with her husband Josh, a seasonal shop in midtown Mobile that changes as the calendar does.

In the fall, the business was home to a pumpkin patch. In a few months, it’ll be home to all things Mardi Gras.

For the last few weeks, though, it’s been home to a winter wonderland.

It’s the second year Mandi has gone to the Buffalo Valley Produce Auction in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, a business that dubs themselves as having the “Largest Christmas Tree Auction in the World.”

They sell over the course of two days, but most people are there for one particular day, where more than 40,000 balled Christmas trees are sold.

“You gotta go to Pennsylvania to get the best,” Mandi said. “The Christmas tree game is serious.”

While at the auction, Mandi said that people from as close as Tuscaloosa and people from as far as the west coast were there to buy too.

“Everything was a hot commodity this year,” Mandi said. “We bought a lot of big trees, but many people couldn’t get them.”

Mandi added that there were twice as many people this year trying to fight for a smaller supply of trees.

While the supply chain is to blame a bit for the shortage, she said that many of the trees that matured this year were planted back in 2008, at the beginning of an economic recession.

Since demand was down during that time, less were planted.

“You have to know what you want around May,” Mandi said. “You have to fight to get the trees you want.”

Despite the smaller supply and higher costs, Mandi said that business at Pop’s has been great.

With offerings from well-known fraser firs to flocked trees (trees covered with biodegradable white mixture to give the illusion of snow), people have been coming from all over to buy.

The demand was so great, Mandi said that on set up day, there were people at the gates of the business before they even opened, trying to be the first ones to buy a tree from the lot.

“It’s been mayhem since we opened,” Mandi said. “We have a great customer base.”

Pop’s has closed for the season, but soon enough they’ll be open once again for Mardi Gras, offering a variety of items to get into the spirit of the Carnival season. But this time next year, the shop will be a winter wonderland once again.

“Every Christmas tree to me is pretty,” Mandi said. “Christmas trees were always a big deal in my family and I never would’ve thought that I’d be selling them one day.”