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Hundreds of Christmas trees for sale from Westmont Fire

Christmas trees for sale from Westmont Fire
Christmas trees for sale from Westmont Fire 01:57

HADDON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) -- When Westmont firefighters aren't responding to emergencies, they're at the firehouse, where they have hundreds of Christmas trees for sale in the parking lot.

"We usually have a good turnout. The weekend is usually the busiest time to sell," Assistant Fire Chief John Young said.

Young says the tree sales help the fire company pay its bills and keep the building maintained. He orders the trees from a grower in the Poconos.

"They deliver them down to us the week of Thanksgiving and we start selling them. We did notice the price increase, but we tried to keep our prices down to be competitive," Young said.

Even though he paid more for the trees, he says they're selling them at the same prices as last year.

Jennifer Talarico bought her tree from the fire company for $55. She notices trees at other locations are more expensive.

"They're pretty high. I haven't looked many, but the prices I looked were $20, $30 higher," Talarico said.

Stephen Pantalone came to the drugstore parking lot on Kings Highway in Haddon Heights to buy a Christmas tree.

"It's a little pricey. It's $90, yeah. I didn't expect it to be that much. I thought it would be $60 or something," Pantalone said.

Vic Turkot, the tree business owner, says last year, he sold Christmas trees for $75 to $135. This year, because of inflation, his trees are $90 to $200. 

He says he raised prices because it cost more money to order the trees from the grower.

"In the last two years, a 6'-7' tree I might have paid $35, $40 a year ago. I'm paying a lot more than that," Turkot said.

The owner says freight costs are up too. He says he pays $10 per tree just to transport trees like these from California to the parking lot. Other trees, he gets from North Carolina or Canada.

"Everybody's face, they come in, they're all surprised at the price, but they've been selling they've been buying 'em, surprisingly, even with the price," salesman Ryan Feeley said.

Pantalone says he has to work two jobs to make ends meet. But he says it was worth shelling out the extra cash for a real tree.

"It's kind of a center point, and it's nice to have a tree because it kind of warms the home," Pantalone said.

Turkot says he's already sold hundreds of trees and what's left could be gone by this weekend.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, natural Christmas trees are likely to cost about 10% more this holiday season due to rising production costs and tight supplies.

"It makes you think twice. I think of all the people who have gone to having artificial trees and it's something I never wanted to do, but it has a practical aspect to it. it makes it tempting, but I was willing to pay the price to have the live tree," Talarico said.

The fire company is hoping to sell out, but if there are any leftover trees, they'll be donated to the Cape May County Park & Zoo where the goats and elephants will gladly eat them up.

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