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Issue Date: October 2008


Building a Better Tree

In the market for a new artificial Christmas tree this year? You’ll find a number of new features that are making today’s permanent trees more realistic, energy efficient and versatile enough for any holiday décor.

“Consumers generally go to the store looking for a lifelike tree that resembles the kind they used to go as a family to cut down,” says Brian Love of the Brunswick-based permanent tree wholesaler Santa’s Own. “More trees are simulating that effect than ever before.”

A few trends to look for:

Take a closer look at many higher-end trees, and you’ll see not those fakey green spikes but realistic-looking needles that have been individually molded from flexible plastic. “It’s more expensive but more realistic, softer on the hands and easier to set up,” says Love.

LED lighting is showing up in various modern electrical fixtures, and Christmas trees are no exception. “They consume a lot less energy and last a lot longer than incandescent light,” says Love, but they can increase the cost of the tree by 50 percent. The light they cast also isn’t the warm glow you’re used to seeing on your tree, he says, but the technology to soften an LED’s cold, harsh light is gradually improving.

As theme trees become more popular, Love’s colored trees are selling “better than I would have ever expected,” he says. Retailers often coordinate tree color with a theme — think red needles with an Ohio State University theme — which consumers will snatch up from the store, ornaments and all. Current top sellers when it comes to unusual colors, says Love, are gold with frost, dark blue and chocolate brown.

Cleveland in a Box
For that favorite Cleveland expat in your life, how about a holiday gift that speaks of home? Here are a few Cleveland-centric gift ideas that’ll help cure holiday homesickness:

Share tastes of home. Just call Carol Westfall with a budget and a shipping address and let her do the work. As owner of The Flavor of Ohio shop in North Olmsted, Westfall creates customized gift baskets containing local favorites such as Cleveland’s Daily Grind coffee, Peterson’s nuts, Euclid Beach popcorn balls, Stadium Mustard and Debonne Vineyards wines. (Be sure to ask for the Debonne labels depicting Cleveland neighborhoods designed by local artist Hector Vega.) See a sampling of Westfall’s baskets at flavorohio.com.

Your favorite design here. Browse the Cleveland section of print-on-demand e-retailer CafePress.com, and you’ll find thousands of Cleveland-themed designs on T-shirts, mugs, cards, posters and other gifts, some humorous, a few off-color and all demonstrating that hometown pride. Visit shop.cafepress.com/ cleveland.

Add to their Cleveland bookshelf. Pick up a sampler pack of this year’s releases from local publisher Gray & Company, such as the latest Les Roberts mystery, King of the Holly Hop, or Plain Dealer sportswriter Terry Pluto’s The Franchise, a look at LeBron’s impact on the Cavaliers and the city. Find your closest retailer or order online at grayco.com.

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