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Son takes over Valley Christmas tree lot business after dad dies of COVID-19

Jimmie Munoz Jr. said his dad, who opened a Christmas tree lot in south Phoenix 36 years ago, died on Aug. 13.

PHOENIX — Now that Thanksgiving is over, the Munoz Christmas Tree Lot off Central Avenue is open for business!

"We’ve been in business now for 36 years," Jimmie Munoz Jr. said. 

Munoz said his dad saw a need for trees in south Phoenix more than three decades ago and stepped up to the plate.   

"There was no Christmas tree lot in south Phoenix," he explained. "So my dad thought 'Why do we have to drive to these other places, why can't we have somewhere we can buy a tree here in the community?'"

His dad came down with COVID-19 over the summer and died on Aug. 13.  

Credit: Jimmie Munoz Jr.

"This year is a little bit special for us because my dad passed away," Munoz stated. "He ran the tree lot and organized a lot of what happens here and for us as a family, we just want to carry on the tradition."

Munoz said even in his final days, his thoughts were centered on spreading Christmas cheer. 

"He would have wanted us to carry on with the tree lot, in fact, he already ordered the trees while he was in the hospital I think," Munoz said. 

Another challenge the Munoz family and every other tree lot is dealing with this year is shortages because unprecedented weather events like wildfires, drought, and heat waves have affected the tree crop in Oregon.

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"This year when we were talking to our supplier, they were bracing us for the years to come because they saw 116-degree temperatures in the mountains, and for Christmas trees, that’s very hot," he said.

Your tree may cost a bit more too because of the truck driver shortage and soaring gas prices. 

"We saw 35% spike in transportation, so we have to mitigate that as a cost," he explained. "There’s a lot of issues with transportation and logistics right now so we felt the pinch this year."

But don't expect to see a major difference at the Munoz lot.

"Inflation plus the difference in cost for the product, we’re seeing a spike but we’re a family-owned tree lot so we don’t want to pass that completely on to the customer, we’re willing to bite a little but it's a little bit of a cost increase, unfortunately," he said.

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Despite all the hardships, Munoz said the Christmas experience will be the same as always for all those who come to his lot: welcoming, warm, and basically a winter wonderland.

 "We serve them fresh popcorn, we have Santa who takes pictures with kids free of charge," he said. "For us, it has always been rooted in the basis of serving the community. People can feel Christmas here, they don't just come to buy a tree but to feel Christmas."

This year, they’re also doing contactless delivery for anyone who has COVID concerns or traffic concerns with all the construction going on in that area.  

"You can order online as well and we’ll deliver it to your doorstep," he said. "COVID hit us hard this year because we lost my father and we were thinking about how we can help other families and we thought contactless delivery would be a good option for people."

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