(Frequently asked Questions and Answers)
Can I get a tree earlier than your scheduled delivery date?
If your early tree is displayed outside, like on a porch or deck in front of a window, then moved inside on our delivery date, then yes. The trees can't be inside longer than 18 days to be healthy for planting. The circulated indoor air dries them out. We deliver as early as the day after thanksgiving for trees that will be displayed outside. So, yeah- Christmas trees on porches and decks. (From our experience no one n=messes with them.)
I live in a building with a shared, secure, main door, can I still get a tree delivered?
Yes, to cover our costs, there'd be a fee of at least $20. On the order form please write us some notes. Like, let us know that we will have to either leave it outside or in the lobby or call you etc. You may have to give your concierge / leasing office written permission for us to go in your home and get your tree. That’s because, from our experience, people aren’t always home when we need to come by. The best we can do is say we will come by in the evening. If you're not there we can't afford to come back again and would go to the concierge / leasing office and they'd let us in.
What's the most aromatic, (best smelling) tree we offer?
Any tree you get can 'smell' more if you pinch a few needles in half each day.
Which tree is most like a Noble?
Nobles don't transplant well so we don't offer them. Since we buy trees, we don't grow them, some years we offer Turkish fir, which is closest to Noble. The next closest is Nordmann fir. We try and find them each year.
Can I pick out my specific tree?
Maybe in future years. It's not financially practical for delivery.
Can I see a tree in person to pick it out, you know, like tradition?
Good question, because 7' potted trees need to be delivered, it's not financially practical to offer that service. Most years we have trees on display in public areas like in the fountain in Pioneer Square, so you could contact us to ask where you could go to see an example trees.
Are you a bunch of tree hugging environmentalists?
Well, not that there's anything wrong with that! We say cut trees are just like cut flowers- beautiful nature grown as a crop. It's not like if people stopped buying cut Christmas trees all that farmland would turn into forest. So cut Christmas trees aren't a forest issue. Most cut trees are chipped up after Christmas, turned into mulch which becomes part of the soil. Ironically, people care about the environment so we buy artificial trees instead of cut ones. But that isn't environmentally friendly. In 1992, according to a consumer survey by the National Christmas Tree Association- 35 million USA households bought cut Christmas trees, and 36 million had artificial ones. A decade later 32 million bought cut Christmas trees and 50 million had artificial. We share on our website here how anyone anywhere can do a potted tree. Potted trees are best for the environment because they are grown for Christmas to clean the air for hundreds of years after being planted. Besides being best for the environment a live tree is has a presence, like houseplants are good for the soul. Isn't it mind blowing that a lit up decorated tree in ones home will be part of a landscape and a hundred feet tall someday? We might not turn Christmas into a tree planting holiday where millions of trees are rented and planted to counter air pollution (climate change / global warming). But ones Christmas tree planted each year cleans ones own share of pollution.
I don't get your business model, can you explain more please?
We buy, rent and sell trees. Part of our clients payment for their Christmas trees goes toward 'sponsoring' the price of their tree to it's planter. Sponsoring means the planter gets a deal on it. So it's not renting in the usual sense, because we don't reuse the trees- they all get planted each year. The $15 we sell some of the Christmas trees for after Christmas is less than half of what we bought them for. We buy them in quantity from the country at low wholesale price. So if a landscaper has a job that needs trees, instead of buying them in the country from a tree wholesaler, getting them free or paying a few bucks is a deal! We're the original and only 'sponsor a Christmas tree'. There seems to be less than 20 'rent-a-tree' services worldwide. They use the potted trees as Christmas trees over and over, year to year, as the tree gets less healthy, not planted. 'Rent a Christmas tree' businesses seem to be wholesale or retail plant nurseries. They charge around $150- just for delivery and pickup. We charge less than $100. We tried giving away the trees to planters for free. But when we did planters didn't value them, they used them for projects that didn’t matter, they wouldn’t water. If we didn't sell some, we'd have to raise the price to Christmas tree clients.
What does your company do that's good for the environment?
Because of TOPCTC, about one hundred or so trees are planted each year and survive to live a full life that wouldn't have if not for the tradition of the Christmas tree. We use hybrid cars to go to the country to select trees (car share biz- Zipcar.com). We make a trip to the Metro transfer station (dump) in the NW industrial area each year to recycle the plastic bags. We reuse the plastic pots.
Can you help me move it inside my home?
To keep the price as low as possible, we don't offer that service. We suggest getting a 6´ tree to make it easier to move. The 6´ trees weigh around 70 pounds. You don't need to lift it, just slide it like a laundry basket.
What if I want to keep my tree and plant it myself?
Please email us so we won´t come by your house after New Years to pick up your tree. Then see the planting recommendationson our website Buyer / Planter page. You do not have to return the pot to us. Also, please mail us a check, or figure out how to use PayPal, for $20, which covers the cost of the pot and to cover the price of the tree we would have sold to a planter. FYI, only less than 5% of our clients choose to keep their tree and plant them.
How are the costs of the trees determined?
The main reason we charge $85 - $95 for a Christmas tree is delivery. We rent big trucks that get 8 miles a gallon and have two workers to move the trees. We also pay a lot more for trees to be dug up rather than chainsawed. We also pick the trees up after the Holidays and we have a website and we buy bags and pots for each tree and we spend a lot of time finding buyer / planters for the trees. We deliver and pick up our trees because live trees with their roots in pots are not convenient enough for folks to transport themselves. We hope that you feel good about your $85- $95 Christmas tree payment going into the local economy; big truck rental, workers, website, pots, bags, Kinkos, getting the word out, spending time finding planters.
Is there any other service that does this as well?
We're the original and only such service in the world. Other companies rent trees, and reuse them in future Christmases, instead of all the trees getting planted. All the trees we offer as Christmas trees are planted the following spring in watersheds to grow old. Other potted Christmas tree companies donate or sell a few of their trees to be planted. The most similar company is a non-profit in San Francisco but they don't offer evergreen trees, they offer nontraditional trees like magnolias, but all of em get planted, they credit us as their inspiration- fuf.net. Here's a not-up-to-date list, let us know if you find others: adoptachristmastree.com, evergrowchristmastrees.ca, Plant Manning's Tree Concern, The Living Christmas Co.
Why are there only a certain number of trees available?
The number of trees is based on the number of buyer/planters that agree to buy and plant our clients Christmas trees after New Years. We make sure every tree has arranged to be planted before offering them as Christmas trees. If parks departments, landscapers, conservation groups, etc only order to buy and plant 300 trees, then only 300 can be used as Christmas trees.
How can I have a living Christmas tree if I live outside of Portland or Eugene?
We offer information on how anyone anywhere can conveniently have a potted tree on the Outside Portland page of this website.
Can I drop off my living Christmas tree if i didn't get it from TOPCTC?
Yes, please contact us and we will arrange a day in the first week of January when you can drop your tree off for the planters.
Are your trees organic?
Not certified, but close most of the time. We are as ecologically responsible as possible. One tree field we bought 200 trees from one year hadn't sprayed to kill weeds in years. Because we buy our trees from a variety of tree growers, we don´t grow trees ourself, the best we can do is work towards the organic goal. Of course we´ll share that info when we make that breakthrough. But practically no chemicals have been sprayed, they don’t even use fertilizer usually.
May I please get a lower price that’ll fit my budget, if that's not too much to ask?
Just volunteer for us and we'll knock bucks off. Every year we donate a few trees to worthy causes.
Do you really increase the number of trees planted because of the tradition of the Christmas tree?
Yeah but only around 30% of the trees we offer and here's why... Ideally we'd grow trees, but we're not able to yet because it costs more initially. We buy trees from farms who grow conifer trees for the landscape market and cut Christmas tree market. We don't say we plant trees, because we give them away and sell them to people who plant them- instead we say things like 'the trees are planted'. We don't say the trees grow old, because 100% don't survive- instead we say things like 'the trees are planted to grow old'. We don't say trees are saved, unless we buy trees from fields of trees grown for the cut Christmas tree market (then we say trees are 'rescued'). We don't say the point of what we do is (any)% of the trees we offer are planted because of Christmas- instead we say things like 'tree planting because of Christmas'. It's a gray area what % of the trees we buy end up growing old because of the tradition of the Christmas tree. The way we would be planting 100% of trees because of Christmas would be if we planted trees ourselves then rented and sold all of them (minus natural mortality). If we have 100 clients, that's not 100 more trees planted because of Christmas because the nursery might have sold the trees to someone else if we didn't buy them. But every nursery doesn't sell every tree they plant so if we didn't buy 100 maybe some of those would have been bulldozed into a pile and burned, which is what happens to trees nurseries plant that got too big because they didn't sell them. A nebulous factor is the people who buy and plant our trees get a deal, so maybe some of them wouldn't have bought and planted trees, or bought and planted less, if they didn't get as good a deal. It's a legitimate point that we mainly 'transplant trees because of Christmas'. We guess we're at 30% planted because of Christmas because we buy from cut tree fields most years. Also because we lower the cost of trees to planters (lower price means more demand). It's not possible to get to 100%, the most would be like 70%.
How come you're the only one after 20+ years and you only do a few hundred each year?
Proving Christmas can be a tree planting holiday is pioneering, so it takes awhile. We didn't offer delivery the first year, we learned potted trees need to be delivered. We started before the internet, so we learned internet stuff. We don't come from a tree background, we learned tree stuff. We've been self financed and some clients order in October, on a shoestring is no way to go. We're not like almost all small businesses, Christmas comes once a year so there’s months without working/learning. We haven't worked and learned all of our 20 years, it's been more like 20 months. Starbucks pioneered retail espresso drinks. They were founded in 1970. They didn't become the Starbucks we all know until 1990. Starbucks is like a restaurant, open every day. We're like catering, it's all got to come together at one time (we've made mistakes some years that set us back). We may only do a few hundred trees each year, but we prove millions of trees can be planted because of Christmas. Wanna help us franchise?