WILMINGTON -- One item on many shopping lists is a Christmas tree. It's a purchase many people don't take lightly. There's a lot that goes into selecting the perfect tree. Christmas tree shopper Beth Baker said, "Pull the needles, do the needles come off? No, good tree." The Baker family has a tradition of shopping for a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. This year eight-year-old Nikki had one picked out in no time. Baker said, "We wanted a nice, fat tree so when she comes down the steps on Christmas morning, she's got the magic of seeing what Santa brought and put under the tree." Melton McLaurin says he's downgrading this year and was looking for a nine-foot tree with his three grandsons. "Shape is more important than anything else. You've got to determine how high you want it, then the shape of the tree," McLaurin said. No matter what shape and size you're looking for, co-owner of Lee's Trees David Mowrer says there some must-dos when shopping. Mowrer said, "A way to check for a fresh tree is, one way, is to reach in, grab the trunk at the very middle, pull out on the limbs. If you come out with a bunch of brown needles or needles in your hand, the tree is not fresh. Another way is take one of the tips and bend it over. If it springs back, it's fresh." The Fraser furs in this lot come from the western part of the state, where they are cut down three to four days before arriving here. The statewide drought didn't affect this supply, but rather prices at the pump. The owner of Lee's Trees says it's the high gas prices that have prices of trees up about ten percent from last year. A tree in this lot will cost you anywhere from $55 to $325." Regardless of the tree's cost, the memories for families like the Bakers are priceless. Mower says once you get your tree home, be sure to keep it away from heaters and heat vents and water it every day.
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