SE 48th and BelmontIf there were a Christmas tree vendor pin-up calendar, Eric Bohlander's swarthy good looks and sexy Carhartt duds would make him a perfect candidate for it. Eric joined the family business five years ago when he moved back from California. His German stepfather has been growing Christmas trees his whole life and runs a 90-acre farm in the Molalla vicinity. Many tree farmers, including Bohlander's clan, have a partnership with a company called Yule Tree. The farmers are responsible for planting the trees and overseeing the land, then Yule Tree handles the rest, including sales, culturing (machete shaping of trees), basil pruning (clipping the lower branches so presents can fit underneath), and harvesting. Because Christmas tree vending is obviously seasonal, December gets busy for Bohlander. During the six weeks leading up to Christmas, he works from 4 am-10 am at Costco, then wraps himself in long underwear and warm outerwear and manhandles evergreens from 10:30 am-8 pm at his tree lot.
What's your most expensive tree?
That'd be the Noble Fir. To get a Noble to height takes longer than other species.
What's your personal favorite?
I'm a Noble man myself. I like the Nobles because they display ornaments real nice. I like the Grands a lot, too, because the Grands are the best smelling. They've got an orange fragrance to them, which is really nice.
I recently saw a house with three trees in it. Is there such a thing as excessive tree consumption?
It's all about sales!
What's the biggest time for you?
This weekend. The 8th. It gets crazy.
Have you ever had anyone return a tree?
Oh yeah. Usually because they can't get them up in their stands. Most people use the worst stand possible, the kind you screw into the tree.
That's all I've ever seen! What kind of stand do you recommend?
I sell one called the Davis stand. "The World's Greatest Tree Stand." Or so they claim.
How much are they?
They range from $15 to $35. I guess you can't find them at local retail markets. You have to get them at Christmas tree fairs and stuff like that. Or at lots like mine.
What's the best part of the job?
Besides the money? The people. You meet a lot of cool people.
Worst part of the job?
Long hours, the cold weather. It takes its toll on your fingers. VIVA LAS VEGAS