It's My Job: Christmas tree flocker adds sparkle to seasonLast Monday as Mother Nature dropped the first full coat of snow outside, Dan Hamre was in a green-house making a white world.
By: John Lamb, INFORUM
Last Monday as Mother Nature dropped the first full coat of snow outside, Dan Hamre was in a green-house making a white world.
Hamre was working at Baker Garden & Gift, flocking a room full of Christmas trees snow white.
For about seven years, Hamre has been the main flocker at the home and garden shop on University Drive in south Fargo.
Flocking is spraying a mix of wood pulp, glue, color and water onto trees, allowing for bold and vibrant colors, Hamre said. To add a little extra seasonal sparkle, he’ll toss on a dusting of glitter.
With so many tiny particles in the air, he wears a protective suit, gloves and face mask to keep from being coated in the fine mix. Fans run to keep the air moving and suck out excess spray.
Hamre, who has worked at Baker since 1987, said they only flock the short-needled and fragrant Fraser fir and long-needled Scotch pine trees. A natural 6-foot Scotch pine goes for $39, but flocked, it’ll cost $99. A Fraser fir unflocked will go for $68, but after spraying, $139.
He estimated the store would sell about 150 flocked trees as opposed to 700 natural ones.
Is there a particular type of person that wants a flocked tree?
Not really, but someone with some creativity can do something really different with it.
What are the most popular colors people want for flock?
White, pink, purple and black. The black and silver is a real nice look. Sometimes green. Right after 9/11, we flocked one white and spray-painted the American flag on it. That was different.
Why flock a tree green?
It makes it fire-retardant. Last year Eric (Baker, store owner and manager) had one that was lime green and another that was blood red.
Are there benefits to flocked trees?
You don’t need to water them, so it’s like having an artificial tree. They’ll last. We’ve had people move away from real trees because these are less maintenance.
How long does it take to flock a 6-foot tree?
It only takes about 10 minutes to flock it, but you have to put it on supports (two pieces of wood crossed to hold the tree up straight) and wire up the branches. After the flock is on, that can weigh the branches down a lot. Whatever needs to be done to make the tree beautiful. In about 20 hours, the flock will be dry, and it’ll be ready to sell.
Are there any special tricks to flocking?
Don’t put it on too light. If it’s too thin, the needles fall out.
So are you a real-tree guy or flocked or artificial?
It has to be a Fraser fir. It’s the smell, the look, the touch. And they last. It’s just a great tree. Floor-to-ceiling fat. If you have room for furniture, you don’t have a big enough tree.
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533
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