HELENA — For many people shopping for a Christmas tree in Helena, it doesn't take much planning. Every year they head to a lot that's been around for more than three decades.
Greg Macker has been selling his trees in Helena for 34 years, and for his customers it’s become a tradition.
"I started out when I was 21 years old,” Macker told us. “I went and cut 100 trees out of the forest and came down to Helena and sold those for $10 apiece. I thought I made $1,000, and I was so excited, and I came back the next year with 50 more and another 100. Every year it's just progressed to where it's now two semi-trucks."
For Greg and his workers, it’s the love of Christmas and their faithful customers that keep this yearly tradition alive.
"The kids that show up, I've seen them grow up and have their own kids now coming in,” said Richard Lockey. “I've always liked working outside and I have just fell in love with this type of work. It’s hard work but I definitely don't mind that, it’s rewarding."
"I absolutely love Christmas,” said Macker. “I love decorating and doing the ribbons and the wreaths and the lights and the bulbs and everything just brings me back to when I was a kid. That's probably why I am still doing this after 34 years. I just can't get it out of my system."
Macker’s advice for finding the perfect Christmas tree: the tree needs to be local, and it needs to be fresh.
"Because they can handle the cold weather,” he told us. “If they come from the west coast, buyer beware.”
“I just don't want to see someone buy a tree and then it fizzles out after a week or so, and that's why it's important to buy a tree that's from Montana because they are acclimated for this climate and can withstand the cold bitter temperatures like we're having today. Take the needles and push them back in your hand and if they stay on there that's an indication of a very fresh tree."
You can visit Greg Macker Christmas Tree’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/GregMackerChristmasTrees/