Acquiring Christmas Trees During Pandemic

This holiday season presented new challenges, one of them being the availability of Christmas trees.  With strict COVID-19 protocols in place, businesses faced the difficult task of making shopping for Christmas trees accessible. People online and throughout the L-S communities expressed their difficulties. 

Sophomore Coco Stevenson said, “Finding a tree was a bit hard, but once we found one it actually wasn’t that much different. There were just masks and precautions in place.”

Another sophomore, Norah Lee, also noted how there were less people out shopping for Christmas trees than usual.

Lee said, “I think enforcing masks and everything is good just to slow the spread of the virus. I don’t think it changed the experience of going Christmas shopping, in the sense that we still got a tree and we still were able to go as a family and get the tree. I think it was a nice experience, considering the whole pandemic.”

 Local Sudbury Boy Scout (BSA) troops reinvented their decades-long tradition of selling Christmas trees, which is typically done from the same pop-up location on Route 20 in Sudbury. Troops 60, 61, 63, 65, and the Venture Crew had to work diligently to continue making the experience of picking out Christmas trees as special as in years past, but kept the pandemic very much in mind.  These local Sudbury Scouts understood the risks of an in-person sale this year, and at first weren’t sure of how they’d raise the money needed.

Sudbury Scouts BSA Tree Sale Committee Chairman Karl Büttner said, “The traditional sale is both a service to the community and also the major fundraiser of the year for the Sudbury Scouts. So, rather than completely giving up, the Scouts worked hard to try to figure out if some alternative model might work”.

After posting surveys on Facebook, the Sudbury Scout Troops found that there were some families who were still willing to purchase trees online, rather than an in-person purchase. Even though the Sudbury Scout Troops would be able to make sales online, they still faced many more challenges due to the virus. The troops continued to work to make sure there were enough Scout families that were able to drive the rental vans to deliver the trees, fit enough trees in one van, along with many more challenges to make sure everyone would stay safe. The Sudbury Scout Troops also had to create new jobs, such as route planning, customer service, load staging, and delivery team.

“In a typical year the Scouts sell over 1,000 trees at the in-person sale. So in this test of the online sale model, the Scouts decided to cut back and only order about 500 trees,” Büttner said. 

The Sudbury Scout Troops began selling after Thanksgiving, and after a couple weeks, almost all the trees had been sold. During their selling time, the Scouts delivered the trees with strict social distancing and made them accessible. For the last couple of trees left, they opted for a “self-pickup” system.

Büttner said, “The sale was a huge success. With so many moving and new parts, it required great teamwork to pull it off. It also required the willingness on the part of the community to try something new.  The Boy Scouts definitely proved it was possible to find a creative solution and still make things work.”