Ind. Christmas Tree Farm Sells The Experience, Not Trees

December 23, 2016 08:35 AM

Dull’s Tree Farm in Boone Co., Ind. is anything but dull. For three decades, the owners have worked to create an experience that glistens throughout the holiday season.

“We never think we’re ready, but it’s going to come around anyhow,” said co-owner Kerry Dulls.

During the mad dash of the six-week selling season, thousands of freshly-cut trees will go through the barn doors before going home with families for the holidays.

During their first married Christmas in 1982, Tom and Kerry Dull had to drive 30 miles for a fresh-cut tree. There, they sensed an opportunity.

In 1985, they planted their first trees, knowing it would be eight years before they could harvest, but the wait was worth it.

“When people come out to get a tree, they’re happy,” said Kerry. “It’s a fun experience. They’re happy, they want to be here.”

Since then, the couple has expanded their business beyond trees. The wreath barn houses holiday help creating colorful swags and garland.

Jody Durham has worked at Dull’s for 21 years, using her vacation days from her job at the bank to work.

“[It] relieves all my stress,” said Durham. “[It] makes me get into the Christmas season.”

In addition to their retail tree business, the Dulls are also state coordinators for the annual “Trees for Troops” campaign, which provides Christmas trees to military bases around the world.

As part of the family’s diversified operation, Tom farms a few thousand acres of corn and soybeans.

“In our 23 years we’ve sold trees, there’s been two years where corn harvest overlapped tree sales,” said Tom. “Those are stressful years when that happens.”

However, the temporary stress soon makes way for the “reason for the season.”

“We’ve always said, ‘We don’t sell Christmas trees, we sell the experience,’” said Tom. “Kids nowadays don’t have the opportunity to go to grandpa’s farm because grandpa doesn’t have that farm anymore. We try to be that person.”

The National Christmas Tree Association, which Tom Dull is president, says 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year. Right now, there are close to 350 million Christmas trees going on tree farms in the U.S.

Tom says demand is surpassing supply, and could have created problems for big retailers who waited to order their trees. 

"We've been in a situation the past few years where there have been more trees available than demand for those trees," said Tom. "This year, we've noticed trees sold out early, so the demand is now exceeding supply."



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