MISSOULA — Driving through town this week, you may have noticed a lot of folks with Christmas trees strapped to their vehicles.
MTN News checked in with Pink Grizzly -- the largest Christmas tree retailer in the state -- and they say the industry is booming like never before thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until completion this summer, a construction project on Russell Street deterred customers from nearby businesses, creating uncertainty for places like the Pink Grizzly.
“We just endured three years of Russell Street construction which was pretty devastating to our business,” owner Shane Clouse said.
Throw a pandemic into the mix, and the family-owned greenhouse feared for yet another blow to business. “We didn’t know what would happen,” Closue said.
But here to save the day according to Clouse are the hundreds of Christmas trees lining the fence of the Pink Grizzly. The reason being is that this year Christmas trees are selling like never before. If you ask him, buying a real Christmas tree may be just what you need to treat those pandemic blues.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created understandably so a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, and a lot of challenges for businesses and people in their personal lives,” Clouse said. “Obviously, we're talking on zoom, we can't even talk in person, so I think people are looking for something tangible literally, we create a park-like setting, they can come and it looks like a farm with all these trees standing up."
Christmas enthusiast Ted Quaid is one of the many customers opting for a live Christmas tree this year. He says you just don’t have the magic of Christmas until you have the tree, he recommends others follow suit and purchase a real one.
“Being stuck inside is gonna make people get stir crazy, and what better way than to get a Christmas tree with your family?” Quaid asked.
When the pandemic eventually ends, Pink Grizzly will remember customers like Quaid, and the holiday season that gave a little certainty to an uncertain time.
"The folks of Missoula overwhelmingly came and supported our business, and I'm happy to say that it was three generations of our family that work here now,” Clouse said. “And it's because Missoula supports our eclectic silly business name Pink Grizzly.
All of Pink Grizzly's 4,000-some trees are sustainably harvested and the ones they don't sell are recycled.
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