CLEVELAND — M&M Wintergreens is a middle man for your holiday greenery taking in shipments of cedar, pine, juniper, and boxwood to name a few from as far away as the Pacific Northwest, and then shipping it back out to customers and garden centers in 31 states. This week and next historically are their busiest.
"So what most companies do in 52 weeks we have to do in two,” said Owner and Founder Michael Boost. “Ninety-five percent of this country all want their greenery this week and next week so where we used to have five or six weeks to bring product in and deliver it now it's two weeks.”
In past years at this time, the inside of this refrigerated warehouse at Fulton and Denison avenues looked and smelled like the top of a mountain. This year? While the customers are lined up, the product is not.
"I mean we're more empty at this point than we ever are, we're waiting on stuff coming inbound,” said Wintergreens’ Shannon Kuhrt. “Where you've got some empty bins, this would be probably three bins full all the way down. Front cooler back cooler completely filled up."
Many factors are at play labor though being the big one said Boost starting at the source, the cutters.
"One of my major suppliers for example they ship ten semis a day out of their facility this year they're lucky if they get three of them out a day."
And the cost of those truckloads?
"We would normally tell our customers freight would be for them 15 to 30% this year we've had some orders where the actual freight was 110% of the order,” Boost said.
A cost that is in turn eventually passed on to consumers who are not turning away.
"The demand is up even more people want real product, there's not anything out there artificial like this,” said Kuhrt.
Boost adding ”we’re turning business away I had a Canadian supplier contact us last month he was looking for a million and a half pounds of greens that he can't get."
Weather was also a factor this year with parts of the Pacific Northwest hit by extreme heat that killed some trees. In addition, a lot of the greens cannot be harvested until after the first frost Kurt said because that’s what sets the needles in place allowing people to enjoy the material all winter long.
“This particular product has got its own timetable,” she said. “The material cut after there's been a frost will set the needles and it will last.”