TREE LOT IN SAUGUS WRAPS UP BUSINESS AS CHRISTMAS NEARS.
The dozens of unsold noble, grand and Douglas firs at Stu Miller's Christmas tree lot in Saugus don't worry manager Stephanie Wood-Menga.
By early Christmas Eve she already had donated several trees to needy families, discounted others and plans to recycle the rest into wood chips and mulch for fertilizers.
By today, the lot at Bouquet Canyon and Newhall Ranch roads will be cleared.
``We're tearing down the whole Christmas tree lot,'' said Wood-Menga as she supervised work crews disassembling lights, a wooden booth and packing up unsold trees.
During the past month, Wood-Menga sold 2,200 trees. On Tuesday morning, there were 140 unsold trees. She will gradually reduce the blanket of green by giving them away and having Santa Clarita Disposal haul others away for recycling.
``She may get rid of 30 trees between today and tomorrow,'' said Douglas Bennett, vice president of Stu Miller's, which manages lots in Canyon Country, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Northridge and Encino among other locations.
Two days before Christmas ``we sold 36 trees, 20 of them in the moonlight,'' said Wood-Menga who has reduced prices from $45 for a premium noble fir to $10 for any tree on the lot. ``I called them our moonlight special.''
Some Christmas tree buyers, looking for a bargain, don't buy trees until the last minute. Others, such as Armenians who celebrate the holiday Jan. 6, take advantage of the much-reduced prices.
``A lot of people buy Christmas trees last minute to save money, for one, and to follow tradition,'' said Wood-Menga, noting that ``a lot of people don't light Christmas trees until the evening'' before the holiday.
In the waning days before Christmas, lot managers are willing to do almost anything to get rid of unsold trees. Wood-Menga will even cut down trees to suit buyers' tastes.
``If they need a certain size tree, we made if for them,'' she said, pointing to a full-grown tree that was chopped in half to sit on a table.
She also donated six trees to needy families. ``We started with a higher price and met the needs of families who couldn't afford those prices,'' she said.
Photo: (1--color in SAC edition only) Above, Allison Marty pulls string off Christmas trees that did not sell at Stu Miller's Christmas tree lot in Saugus. These firs will be recycled. (2--ran in SAC only--color) At right, last-minute tree buyer Scott Williams, left, waits for Nick Schick to tie a tree onto his car. Williams got the tree for $10 as Stu Miller's lowered its prices as Christmas approached. By today, the lot at Bouquet Canyon and Newhall Ranch roads will be cleared. Some trees will be given to needy families.
Terri Thuente/Daily News