MILWAUKEE — ‘Tis the season for Christmas trees. For families who opt to put up a real one, the cost of it may take a bigger bite out of their budget this year.
The average price of a real Christmas tree this year is $80 to $100. That’s up 10% from last year, according to the American Christmas Tree Association.
Casey Dembowiak and his wife own Kellner Greenhouses in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee.
He said buying fresh trees from farms is costing them more this year. It’s a challenge because he said he doesn’t want to price out his customers.
“Prices have gone up for us absolutely,” said Dembowiak. “For the trees, I wasn’t able to get as many trees. It doesn’t mean I should charge more for my trees. It just means I’ll have less trees to sell and we’ll close earlier.”
It’s a reason why longtime customer Jason Blenkinsop said he shops local from family businesses such as Kellner Greenhouses. He lives right down the street from the greenhouse.
“You have to keep them in business so you have places to go like this,” said Blenkinsop. “I think that’s the most important thing is that once all these little places leave, we’ll have to go somewhere else that isn’t as nice of a place.”
It’s an example of working together this holiday season: Many local shoppers know it’s a crucial time for small, independent businesses and most of those businesses know how financially challenging this time of year can be for families.
“We’re never going to get super rich owning a greenhouse,” said Dembowiak. “We can live comfortably and we can help our customers achieve their Christmas and have a great Christmas as well and that’s important to us.”
Dembowiak said he purchases all his trees from Wisconsin.
“All of our trees come from Rylander or Tomahaw area,” said Dembowiak. “We decorate our wreaths here in-house. We walk through the woods. We pick pinecones. We paint them. We pick weeds. We paint them. We clip our dogwood bush that’s on our property and we decorate with that.”