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Evergreen scramble


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POSTED: Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last-minute tree shoppers flocked to Aiea yesterday after word spread that there were Christmas trees for sale.

Specialty Holiday Season was among the vendors selling out of trees in recent weeks. But the business had more noble firs shipped in from Portland, Ore., and began selling them yesterday near Best Buy at 91-051 Kamehameha Highway.

When the day began, prices for 3- to 4-foot trees were $120, but after two hours the price dropped to $80. Prices for 2- to 3-foot trees also dropped, to $60 from $95.

The vendor brought in 108 trees yesterday, and more than 200 trees were to go on sale today starting at 2 p.m. Tickets were to be passed out this morning for those interested in reserving a tree. Prices might change.

Kahuku resident Aaron Macanas said he stood in line in the parking lot of Ala Moana Center Thursday night waiting to buy a tree from Christmas Hawaii, operated by Richard Tajiri. But as he inched near the entrance, it was announced that all the trees were sold.

Macanas then began searching for an artificial tree, but that proved to be an equal challenge. He bounced from Lowe's, to Home Depot, to WalMart and City Mill, but nobody had trees.

Macanas heard about yesterday's sale in Aiea, so he hustled there after he finished work at the Turtle Bay Resort and bought a 4-foot noble fir tree for $80.

The price was steep, but Macanas, who has two children ages 5 and 8, was satisfied.

“;It's for the kids,”; he said.

Sharla Vendiola, also from Kahuku, said this is the first year she couldn't find a tree. Vendiola said she and her family would usually buy a tree in Laie, but there were none.

Vendiola and her sister, Ashley, were happy with their selection, despite the long drive and higher price. “;It's very green and really fresh,”; said Sharla Vendiola.

Kaneohe resident Dana Apo happened to be driving past and stopped to buy a 4-foot tree for her sister, who has 11 children. “;I was worried it wouldn't fit on the top of my car,”; joked Apo about the size of the tree. “;There's nothing like having the smell of a real Christmas tree,”; she said.

Meanwhile, business is booming for Helemano Farms on Whitmore Avenue near Wahiawa as more residents opt for Norfolk pine trees for Christmas.

“;We're doing extremely well,”; said Pat O'Brien of Helemano Farms, which has more than 12 acres of Norfolk pines. The company has been selling an average of 80 to 100 trees a day this week. Cost for trees are $40 for a 6-foot tree and an additional $10 for every foot up to 9 feet. Trees taller than 9 feet cost more.