On the day after Thanksgiving, Kris Ross of Rexford turned Black Friday into “Green Friday.”
“We’re eager,” said Ross, as she left Kulak’s Nursery and Landscaping in Rexford with her family and a 10-foot evergreen. “It’s our first year with a real tree in a long time.”
While buyers crowded malls and major stores Friday for Christmas presents, shoppers like Ross looked for the Christmas presence — tall trees that will be decorated in reds, blues, golds and greens and be lighted through the new year.
Managers at nurseries, greenhouses and other tree spots reported strong sales. Pam Kulak was on the cash register at the business owned by parents John and Karen Kulak and said 75 trees were bought and bundled for rides on trucks and cars.
“Not bad for the first day,” she said. “Once Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is around the corner.”
The nursery, on its Facebook page, promoted Black Friday shopping by offering discounts on items stocked inside the store. “We said, ‘Skip the lines and big-box stores and come here,’ ” Kulak said, adding that the big weekends for tree sales will be the first two full weekends in December.
The Ross search party included husband Ryan and daughter Isabella, 5. Ryan Ross said his family was on the way home from a Thanksgiving visit to central New York and decided to make the tree expedition part of the ride back to Rexford. “We haven’t even been home yet,” he said.
For Joe Heaphy of Halfmoon, shopping for a Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend has become a family tradition. “We pick it up on Black Friday every single year,” he said.
Heaphy received help at Kulak’s from his wife, Diane; daughter Sadie, 3; son Avery, 1; and Diane’s parents, Ray and Joan Stanek of Long Island. He said the tree would be in its stand by evening. “I don’t know if we’ll decorate it,” he said.
Rick Fronczek, manager at Ben’s Greenhouse in Clifton Park, sold about 25 trees Friday. Like Kulak, he said the big days are still ahead. Black Friday, he added, is not one of those busy days.
“People are out shopping for gifts,” he said. “They have their cars loaded; they can’t fit a tree.”
Fronczek, standing in a greenhouse filled with 400 red, white and pink poinsettias, said his 300 Fraser and balsam firs were cut in Maine last week. He knows people will be coming for them soon, especially because this year’s late Thanksgiving has reduced the Christmas shopping season by about a week. And if people aren’t thinking about their tree yet in early December, a little white in the air will generally persuade them to go green.
“One of my busiest days ever, we had a snowstorm,” Fronczek said.
Carlton “Chip” Ellms, who operates the Ellms Family Farm in Charlton, also saw plenty of shoppers.
“For us, it was a record day for a Friday after Thanksgiving,” he said. “I think the weather played a part, and then this is about as late as Thanksgiving gets toward Christmas, so you had people think, ‘We only have so many weekends left. We better get out and get a tree.’ ”
Friday was Ellms’ first day of Christmas operation. “We hire a lot of high school and college kids. We had a lot of kids here for training,” Ellms said. “We were lucky because we needed everybody that was here.”
But staffers at the family-operated DeVoe’s Rainbow Orchards in Clifton Park did not see a Christmas rush Friday.
“We had a few in the first thing this morning,” said Lynn DeVoe-Warn. “You can never call it; you just don’t know. Usually, Saturdays and Sundays are the busy Christmas tree shopping days. It’s usually a family thing.”
Craig DeVoe said early tree shoppers are often comparison shoppers. “They’ll stop and see what you’ve got,” he said. “There’s a lot of price shopping. They’ll do that all weekend.”
People wandered Fogg Hollow Farm in South Charlton during the daylight hours.
“We were busy,” said Chuck Fogg, whose wife Susan manages the business. “It was surprising. A lot of people came and tagged them, and at 1 p.m. the rush arrived and continued into dark. We were loading with generator lights.”
Fogg believes Black Friday shoppers look for presents — and trees — because the day has been hyped so much in the media. He expects a busy weekend and is also expecting visitors from Boston who will purchase one of the farm’s 25-foot trees.
“There’s no rain in the forecast,” he said. “Rain is usually the cruncher.”