Christmas wreaths add $25M to N.B. economy annually
Wreaths are now bigger business in the province than Christmas trees
Martha Bell, owner of Bell Woodlots, has hired 30 workers for three shifts to make the wreaths and other decorations for the season.
"We started on the 24th of October and we like to say we never lock the door," Bell said. "So once we open on the 24th, we'll have day shift and night shift – we work seven days a week and we'll do that until about the seventh of December."
The employees are paid by piece work. They receive $1.60 for a small wreath and up to $14 for a large one.
Trudy Vail has been working at the factory for 21 years.
"There are those of us who would probably take home about a thousand a week," Vail said.
Katherine Beattie has been making wreaths for 19 years.
"As hard as you want to work, you'll get paid," she said. "So if you work hard, you get paid more money."
Bell says she can sell as many wreaths as her workers make.
Tough year for N.B. tree growers
Christmas tree growers aren't faring as well as wreath makers this year.
"There's been a fairly persistent oversupply coming out of the United States from North Carolina as well as the Northwest, states like Oregon and Washington," Dickey said.
He says it's a matter of supply and demand and timing.
"There was an under supply of trees eight to ten years ago and in response to that, a lot of guys started planting so now we're seeing this major explosion in terms of availability."
The province's wreath industry is now worth two and a half times more than the Christmas tree industry.