Day after Thanksgiving: ‘Part of it is tradition and part of it says Christmas to me’
WILLMAR — Every year since about 1960 Carole Vennerstrom has come to the same locally-owned nursery to buy the family Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.
This year was no different.
Vennerstrom, 81, spent Friday afternoon with her daughter and two grandchildren walking through a maze of freshly-cut trees that were hanging right side up and gently twirling from the ceiling of a new greenhouse at Stacy’s Nursery in Willmar.
“Part of it is tradition and part of it says Christmas to me,” said Vennerstrom, during a brief chat near the fireplace at Stacy’s, where customers ate cookies, drank hot cider and picked out holiday wreaths, garland, potted evergreen branches and most importantly, their Christmas tree.Vennerstrom said decades ago she and her late husband, Bill, would bundle up their kids and “we would wander around the Christmas tree forest” in search of the perfect fraser fir.Now she does it with her grandchildren.Each year Stacy’s sells hundreds of Christmas trees to generations of families who keep coming back.The day after Thanksgiving is one of their busiest days of the year, topped only by the first Saturday in December.“It’s the funnest two weeks of the year,” said Stacy Fladeboe, who has owned the business since 1977 and worked for the original owner when he was a kid.Fladeboe said his job now is to hold the grandkids and great-grandkids of his customers when they come to buy their trees.“I held him when he was a baby,” said Fladeboe as he gave a nod towards a young boy who was following his parents through the trees. “And I held his dad when he was a baby.”Fladeboe and his employees have a knack for remembering what kind of tree each family traditionally buys.“We remember that but we don’t remember our spouse’s birthday,” said Angela Doyle, with a laugh. Doyle is Fladeboe’s daughter and is the next generation of owners at Stacy’s.The family-owned business raises about 30 percent of the Christmas trees they sell. The rest are shipped in and come wrapped in netting that has to be cut away so each tree can be placed in a gadget that shakes old needles out of the branches. Many of the trees are displayed by being suspended them from the ceiling.The business also makes more than 5,000 wreaths each year, including about 800 that are being placed on the graves of veterans this week.The front-end labor is matched by customer service on the other end.Every year one customer brings a bribe in a brown paper to repay Stacy’s promise to save the “fattest tree” for him.Vennerstrom said she appreciates that Stacy’s not only delivers her tree but puts it in the tree stand and carries it into her house to be decorated.It’s a service many of their customers receive, said DoyleThe business is about more than just selling trees, said Fladeboe. It’s about “Christmas and the faith that goes with it.”