MATTITUCK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Small business Christmas tree shops are feeling the sting of winter a little bit extra this year.

Big box stores are making it harder and harder for the mom and pop shops to stay afloat, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Thursday.

Generations have come to a family farm in Central Islip to buy its Christmas trees. But for the first time in its 72-year history, there are no trees for sale.

Papa’s Family Farm said it can no longer compete with big box and chain stores that slash prices, because those outlets buy and sell trees in such great quantities.

“You feel sad. You had something really great going,” John Papa said.

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The Papa family said tree costs have tripled due to lower supply and higher shipping costs. Because of those factors, they would have to charge $50 or more per tree and their customers wouldn’t be able to afford that.

Long-time customers said they were saddened by the news.

“I’ve gotten my Christmas trees here for past 15 years. It’s very disappointing. I have to go elsewhere,” Islip resident Louise Privitera said.

“They’ve been a part of the community for half a century. It’s devastating,” Bill Griffin added.

So, the Papas are adjusting in new ways to stay afloat in a business the family loves, selling wreaths and other ornaments.

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Christmas tree sellers across Long Island are feeling the squeeze. They are no longer shipping trees in and are attempting to grow all their own, and they are surviving by charging more.

“Last year, our freight was $1,200 a trailer load. This year, it’s $1,900. When is it going to end?” wondered Joe Shipman of Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm in Mattituck.

Employees at Shamrock said growing their own can help keep costs down, but artificial trees are making a huge dent.

“This is where you come to support the farmers. That is how the North Fork survives, from its revenue through agriculture,” Ted Bebee said.

“When they can’t afford to buy a tree, the party’s over,” Shipman added.


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