For years, Eric Mack of Temple Terrace has been stopping by the Green Mountain Christmas Trees lot in front of Corpus Christi Catholic Church on 56th Street to buy his Christmas tree.
This year though, with his 18-year-old son preparing to go into the Army, Mack had his sights on a smaller item.
“For our house, we’re going to have a beautiful poinsettia,” Mack said, holding up the plant he had just bought amidst all the green, fragrant trees. “It’s always just a blessing to be able to stop by, and it’s a ‘Merry Christmas’ atmosphere. You get the smell of the Christmas trees, then you see the red poinsettias.”
Chris Flynn, of Treasure Island, has been bringing his Green Mountain Christmas Trees to Corpus Christi in Temple Terrace for 13 years. Even before that, the church worked with another Christmas tree retailer to set up a lot and profit share on its property.
“It’s a very healthy share of the profits,” Flynn said of his arrangement with the church, declining to go into particular details.
Flynn usually opens up shop the day after Thanksgiving. This year, the lot will be open until Dec. 23.
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On Tuesday evening, Flynn was at the lot overseeing the unloading of a shipment of fresh Fraser Firs, which he gets from a small farm in North Carolina. The variety is one of seven that Green Mountain Christmas Trees carries.
Other varieties include Noble, Grand and Douglas Firs, which come from small farms in Oregon; and Scotch and White Pine and Blue Spruce, which come from small farms in Michigan.
Trees range in height from 3 to 16 feet.
Some Christmas tree lots have trees that were cut around Halloween, but Green Mountain provides the freshest trees possible, Flynn said. The Fraziers that arrived Tuesday had been cut on Sunday and Monday.
“We are in control of the process,” he said. “We hand pick every tree on the lot.”
The Christmas tree business isn’t just a seasonal gig, said Flynn, who also sells surgical supplies; he’s working on procuring trees all year long. The job entails visiting farms, ordering trees, tagging inventory and managing the business. Temple Terrace is his only location, and many of the people who help run the lot are local volunteers. Some have even been involved since the first year.
“We’re just really, really blessed to be here,” Flynn said. “I love Temple Terrace. People are so nice. Families tend to move just one street over. Kids go away to school, and then they come back. You don’t see that often.”
“I think the most rewarding thing is seeing families grow up,” he added. “It’s really cool.”
Green Mountain also sells poinsettias that arrive fresh daily, as well as Christmas cacti and wreaths.
Mack, who bought a poinsettia, said he looks forward to stopping by the lot every year.
“It’s just a community project, and I like when people give back to the community,” he said.
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