NIPOMO, Calif. -- Holloway's Christmas Trees opened for the holiday season on Wednesday, ringing in the start of what its owners hope will be another successful year.
"It's game time," said owner Carl Holloway. "The phone is ringing off the hook. Everybody wants to come."
Holloway noted the first day of business is filled with a lot of training and instruction for much of his staff. The farm will employ about 75 people during the holiday season.
"We're looking forward to a good year," said Holloway. "The crop is one of the best we've ever had year with the pines."
Last year, sales were record-breaking. Holloway said the farm sold about 5,000 trees, including 2,500 during three-day weekend following Thanksgiving.
The longtime family-owned Nipomo farm sold so many trees, it ran out of stock, even after ordering more trees. Without anything left to sale, it closed for the season on December 10, significantly earlier than ever before.
"I wanted to stay open and usually the curve goes down," said Holloway. "It didn't slow down and it just kept going. We overcut by 500 trees in our pine tree fields and we finally had to shut it down otherwise I wouldn't be in business this year with things to sell."
In addition to the Monterey pines that are grown on the property, the farm also sells pre-cut trees that are imported from other parts of the United States.
Holloway said he's ordered thousands of pre-cut trees, such as noble and Fraser firs. At most, he estimated sales could approach 6,000 trees this year.
"We have your trees," said Holloway. "It's going to be fresh and they're going to be good and it's going to be the same thing as always. Hopefully, everyone comes out and buys them because it's quite an expense purchasing those trees."
Just like everything else, the cost of business has risen over the past 12 months, which Holloway said will impact pricing.
"The prices of trees went up another five bucks," said Holloway. "Some of the larger fir trees we're bringing in went up more than that. They're just not out there, so we're paying a lot of money wholesale, and then trucking doubled in one year. Trucking prices almost doubled, so all that goes onto the price of tree."
On Wednesday, customers wasted little time in making a trek to the farm located adjacent to Highway 101, just south of Tefft Street.
"We are customer number one, so we pretty much got the tree we wanted," said Mike Felts of Pismo Beach. "My wife is pretty picky and sometimes it will take hours, sometimes it only takes minutes and today was probably in less than half an hour."
Holloway's is the largest choose and cut Christmas tree farm in California. Open since 1962, the farm has become a place where families from all across the Central Coast and beyond have been coming to as part of their holiday tradition for decades.
"I wanted to bring out my daughter," said Guillermo Godinez of Lompoc. "It's her first year and first Christmas, so wanted to make it a tradition and come out here every year."
Godinez was at the farm Wednesday with his family and cut down his own tree.
"It's definitely the experience you get," said Godinez. "Better trees too and definitely bigger size and you get to pick out the one you want."
Frank Sosa of Arroyo Grande was also at the farm with his family on opening day. He said they come to Holloway's each year on the first day it opens for business.
"It makes it all the more fun for the family and we decorate all day and we cook and just get Christmas started in November," said Sosa. "There's nothing like cutting down a tree and getting it flocked and the smell of it, the smell of it brings the spirit out."
While Holloway is hoping for another successful year, like 2020, he also is crossing his fingers sales are spread out over the month, as opposed to just a few days as it was last year.
"I hope it goes through the whole season," said Holloway. "I hope on the 22nd of December I have something to sell. I don't want to disappoint a family."
Holloway's Christmas Trees will be open daily, expect on Thanksgiving, through December 24, or until stock runs out.
For more information about Holloway's, click here.