SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Customers out shopping for Christmas trees will notice a few new trends this holiday season at Anthony's Christmas Tree lot and you can blame the historic drought.
That's what the News Channel team is hearing from Ed Miller, the (new) owner of the 68-year-old business. The site at Earl Warren Showgrounds has been a holiday tradition for decades and transforms during Thanksgiving.
The grounds are already chock-full of Noble, Douglas and Nordmann Firs as well as wreaths and an assortment of decorations.
Miller said this year, certain trees are pricier and customers will notice a specific shape.
"The eight, nine (foot trees) and 10's are harder to get or to find," said Miller. "The growers, I think, subsequently with the drought situation and also with just getting more trees per square foot or acre, they're growing them a little more narrow. We have some beautiful trees this year but they're a little bit more narrow."
Miller said prices are higher this year for taller trees and overall, there is another tree shortage. He also said his trucking fees from Oregon have doubled over the past three years. Yet, the lot has a range of prices and customers started showing up around Thanksgiving to buy their tree.
"We have a special here for a six foot Douglas for $39.99 which is a prices you would've paid 10 years ago!"
Miller was quick to honor his former boss, owner and business namesake, Anthony Dal Bello, who is still actively involved, behind-the-scenes. Miller worked as Dal Bello's manager before taking over the business.
"This is my fifth year," said Miller. "I've been with Anthony's since 1991. Even though he's retired and he's in his mid-80's he's still a very important part of this."
Miller said it is a family-run business and a local tradition for many families.
He shared the story of a man out from Minnesota who insisted on continuing a family tradition of picking out a tree together at Anthony's Christmas Trees, right after Thanksgiving.