Southwest Michigan

W. MI Christmas tree farms unfazed by Amazon venture

GOBLES, Mich. (WOOD) — Amazon shoppers can now buy Christmas trees online, but West Michigan farms aren’t worried about the internet giant stealing too much of their business.

“People are doing everything mobile these days, so it's not surprising,” said Betsy Perales, executive secretary at Wahmhoff Farms.

Despite the rise of grocery delivery apps, employees of the family-owned farm in Gobles aren’t sweating Amazon’s announcement.

“It's a hands-on thing,” Perales told 24 Hour News 8. “Come and get your tree and make it a family tradition instead of punch, punch, punch and order a tree online. That's not like getting groceries. It's just not the same thing.”

She added that while Amazon customers may get to choose which species of tree they order, what shows up may look exactly as expected.

“I have no concern of Amazon taking that over at all,” Perales said confidently.

In fact, Wahmhoff Farms says it’s already taking calls from customers interested in trees.

The longtime business has made a name for itself in West Michigan; they harvest more than 60,000 trees every year.

Perales said that they ship some individual trees, but it’s a small sliver of their business.

“There's more people that want to come out for the experience than just call and say, 'Yeah, can you ship a tree to my door?' We have just a few sales like that,” Perales explained.

Her experience lines up with what the National Christmas Tree Association told CNBC. The group claims about 1-2 percent of the 27 million real Christmas trees sold last year were purchased online.

For Perales, ordering online strips out some of the Christmas spirit.

“The moms are taking pictures and videos of everything that's happening and it's fun,” she recalled cheerfully.

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