Forestry Club lures Christmas tree lovers

Branden Peterson

The University Forestry Club has helped put Christmas trees in living rooms for more than 75 years.

They are back again this year, with hopes of selling more than 1,500 trees in the Twin Cities area.

Buying a Christmas tree from the club has become an annual tradition for thousands who, at all ages, visit the lot.

“We have people that are in their 60s that say ‘Oh, when I was a little kid, I came here,’ and that’s cool because they tell other people,” club president Sean Maiers said.

Starting the day after Thanksgiving, the club inhabits the busy corner of Cleveland Avenue and Larpenteur Avenue, north of the St. Paul campus.

The club ordered more than 1,550 trees – including seven types – and sells trees of all heights, some as high as 9 feet tall.

Approximately 90 percent of the trees were grown and shipped from a wholesaler in St. Francis, Minn. Most trees are priced between $16-$75, depending on species and size.

The forestry club relies heavily on the money collected from the Christmas tree sale, their lone fund-raiser each year. Typically, the approximately $7,500 raised helps the club pay travel expenses and provide scholarships for active members.

Maiers said many regular customers speak sentimentally about their positive experiences from years past.

“We don’t do any advertising at all. It’s the people that come here year after year that are our greatest asset,” he said.

Customers walk through several lanes of trees, inhaling the evergreen scents encompassing the grounds.

Yearly sales are so strong even the loss of a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas has not negatively impacted the season’s sales.

Buyers say solid service, reasonable prices and a wide selection bring them back year after year.

St. Paul resident Mike Sullivan said he has been buying his Christmas trees from the University club for years after a fellow alumnus told him about the month-long event.

“I think the service is great,” the 39-year-old Sullivan said. “As long as I stay in the cities, I’ll come back here.”

Branden Peterson covers the St. Paul campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]