By Ren Clayton

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — For many families, finding the perfect tree is a holiday tradition — but time is running out.

Many farms and lots usually close the week before Christmas, but some have already closed for the year.

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“A little late the game, but hoping to grab a nice Christmas tree for the holidays,” said tree shopper Carlos Mariani.

With still 12 days until Christmas Eve, The Happy Land Tree lot in St. Paul has been open for weeks.

“We started the week before Thanksgiving and it was really busy. And as you can see it’s still busy,” said manager Tony Bacon.

Opening earlier is a growing trend for tree sellers in Minnesota, and that also goes hand in hand with closing earlier. Happy Land’s tree farm in Sandstone, where you can cut your own, had their last day of the season Sunday.

(credit: CBS)

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“To save trees for the future,” said Bacon. “Closer you get to the holidays, less people are going to the cut-your-owns. I mean, if people do that, they do it earlier, make an event out of it.”

One of the reasons for the urgency, to preserve future years’ trees, goes back over a decade.

“Back in 2008, 2009, you know, people didn’t plant as many trees,” said Bacon. “The money wasn’t there with the recession, and we go by our sales, our numbers, so we try to have less waste, too.”

That’s another key. Multiple tree farmers agree that there was a compressed rush to buy trees. Pinestead Tree Farms in Isanti closed a week ago for similar reasons. They believe reports of tree shortages caused people to buy early.

But remember, if your tradition is to put your tree up closer to Christmas, there still is a solution.

“Buy it early. Put it in the shade, and then just cut it right before you put it up,” said Bacon.

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The Happy Land lot in St. Paul normally closes the week before Christmas, but it is likely they will be cleaned out of supply by Monday.

Ren Clayton