Manitoba

Pull the tree home by sled, or buy online? Winnipeg tree lots offer choice between nostalgia, convenience

For many, Christmas is incomplete without a tree — and families in Winnipeg can opt for convenience or tradition when picking out theirs.

You can opt for the hot chocolate and hay bale experience, or go with online delivery in finding your tree

Pete Scott, co-owner of Pete's Christmas Trees, prepares for a busy time of year at his Wolseley tree lot. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC News)

For many, Christmas is incomplete without a tree — and families in Winnipeg can opt for convenience or tradition when picking out theirs.

In Wolseley, Pete's Christmas Trees has set up on the corner of Westminster Avenue and Chestnut Street, giving Winnipeggers a blast from the past.

Owners Pete Scott and Mark Neufeld say they aim to provide a unique tree-shopping experience. The nostalgic backdrop of the tree lot features a wood fire where they make hot chocolate, hay bales to kick up your feet and a sled you can use to take your tree home.

"It's like a pretty great little experience for everybody to come through. I think that's why people really come," said Scott.

"It really changes their experience from the big box store, drive-in headache to a really quaint thing," he said.

"It all depends on what you want, but we've got a good tree for everyone."

Trees in storage at Pete's Christmas Trees. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC News)

In Fort Garry, Carly Luinenburg, a mother of two, said she prefers an efficient and effortless approach. 

"We have two small young children — my husband works a lot and it's really convenient to do everything online," said Luinenburg.

Luinenburg went to the website for Jensen's Nursery and Garden Centre and picked a delivery time.

"I bought it online yesterday and it was delivered this morning."

Susan Jensen Stubbe, owner of Jensen's Nursery and Garden Centre, came up with the online tree-shopping idea.

"I think it's a fast-paced world.… Between work and everything else and we don't have a whole lot of time on our hands," said Jensen Stubbe.

"I think our service gives people more time to work and drive kids around and get on with the holidays."

Last year, online sales made up five per cent of the 900-plus tree sales at Jensen's — but that number is slowly on the rise.

"We have sales from Instagram all the time. People go on there and then contact us. Social media and the website are so popular, because people can get it without leaving their homes. It works for them," said Jensen Stubbe.

For some families, online shopping has become the easy choice — especially during the holidays. But to Pete Scott, buying locally is the best option — unless you want to really do it yourself.

"To get the most authentic, you're probably going out to the woods and cutting it done by yourself with an axe," he said.

"But short of that, if you live in Wolseley, you can walk down, pick up a Christmas tree from a local stand, pull it home on the sled there."

Both Jensen's and Pete's said business is picking up year over year, as more people opt to buy a real tree instead of a plastic version.

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