A Christmas tree lot is a place where families are immersed in years of tradition. Going with your family to select the perfect tree is a custom all families who celebrate Christmas are familiar with. The Inman Christmas tree lot has provided this practice for the Grady community and brings the neighborhood together.
The tree lot is located directly next to Inman Middle School and has been around for 21 years. Families from all over the Virginia-Highland area come to select their Christmas trees there, and the lot gives back by holding fundraisers for Inman’s PTO.
Danny Dollar started the business in high school and currently lives in West Jefferson, North Carolina. He transports the trees from Barefoot Mountain Farms in North Carolina to the area.
“I used to sell trees in Florida, but it’s a lot better to sell them here,” Dollar said. “There are a lot of families in this area, and it’s a really good environment to sell trees. Families can come from all over the neighborhood, and it’s very good for business.”
Dollar has been active in the business since he founded it. Being next to Inman Middle School is an advantage because of the number of families living near the school. Additionally, Dollar is able to find employees because Grady students are able to work at the lot. They can do anything from carrying Christmas trees to selling wreaths.
“I have been getting my Christmas tree here since I was 3,” said senior Lucy Bertsch, a cashier working at the Christmas tree lot. “So, I was pretty used to coming here. We were coming to get my Christmas tree, and my friend was working here and she asked if I wanted to work there, too.”
Bertsch, along with other Grady employees, are attached to the lot. They came with their families to pick out their Christmas tree the way they watch customers do the same thing. Many feel having the job is gratifying for themselves and the community.
“It’s really rewarding to know that I’ve helped them continue their traditions,” Lucy Adams, another cashier working at the lot, said about the customers. “It reminds me of when I get my tree every year which I’m sure many workers can relate to.”
Some Grady families come year after year, making visits an annual holiday outing. Tripp Pair, a Grady parent, has been coming to the lot since his daughter, now a senior at Grady, was 11. Pair believes the lot has provided to the community and feels he is contributing to his neighborhood when buying his Christmas tree there.
“We paid attention to that lot because it was partially for the school,” Pair said. “It donated so much money, and it’s become a staple for Virginia-Highland. It’s become a community tree lot, there’s only a handful of community tree lots. I think it’s attractive to people who want to buy locally.”
Some families prefer to buy Christmas trees at corporations because it is cheaper. However, others feel when giving back to the community and allowing their families to have share the experiences, a community lot is worth it. Pair thinks it’s more important to focus on local businesses and institutions than big corporations.
“If you go to a place like Lowe’s or Home Depot, you’re supporting a corporation versus your school or your community,” Pair said. “The trees are cheaper at Home Depot, but they might not be as pretty. You give up a little by going to the Inman lot, you pay a little extra, but it’s for the school, it’s for keeping the community tight.”
For students buying their Christmas trees, the experience means more because they see neighborhood friends and enjoy the seasonal festivities that come with purchasing a tree.
Mia Otoski, a Grady student who lives less than five minutes from the lot, is able to connect with people near her home and truly enjoy her time at the lot.
“It’s a place where all the Virginia-Highland families can gather and all share an interest, Christmas trees,” Otoski said of the lot. “Also, we get to see friendly faces and catch up. Their Christmas trees are really nice and high quality.”
The lot impacts the community in a way that most local businesses can’t, particularly its fundraisers and its seasonal addition to the community, shoppers said.
“I like that lot, always have,” Pair said. “It’s more expensive, but it’s done a lot of good for the community, the kids. I like it.”