David Watts still remembers his 6-year-old self knocking on people’s doors while his dad’s truck filled with Christmas trees would idle nearby on the street.
More than half a century later, he’s still selling trees during the holiday season but has moved the Watts Christmas Tree Farm experience to a space on the property of Traders Point Creamery.
Watts has ordered 1,150 trees, which from past experience he is fully expecting to clear from inventory, sized from table-top dainty all the way up to 16-footbehemoths. His best-seller is the Frasier fir, with strong branches to support ornaments and a silvery underside that makes the tree blue-green in color.
He also offers Fraser Fir, Scotch pines, Concolor fir (also known as white fir), and the traditional Douglas fir. The trees come in from hand picked growers in North Carolina and Michigan that have been growing trees for Watts for decades. What is the most popular size? Eight feet, according to Watts.
Watts is kind of a pied-piper of sorts with regard to his trees and loyal community that has followed him first from family farm to an empty lot in the village and now to its relatively new but very comfortable spot at Traders Point Creamery.
With a few additions and departures here and there over the course of decades, Watts still has about 10 seasonal employees whom he considers first as friends.
Watts, 61, grew up on the family farm that was located on Hunt Club Road with his two older sisters Deb and Janice. He graduated from Zionsville High School in 1977and attended Purdue University for two years, but returned home to help after his father experienced a cancer scare. The trio of siblings lost both parents in the past decade and sold the farm after threatened with foreclosure for financial reasons. The farmland was in the family from 1961 to 2010.
Watts takes awhile to describe the situation and how long-time family friend, Dr. David Brokaw, stepped up to help out financially during this period. He counts Dr. Brokaw as one of the many special people that have helped keep the operations going on some level for so long.
His seasonal workers during tree-selling time are all long-time friends and local Zionsville High School Students who learn about hard work and how to care for their loyal customers. Older friends often worked on the farm when they were kids, like local attorney Scott Quick when he was just 15, and simply enjoys helping out.
“These people are like family,” Watts said. “I’ve made these friendships that are lifetime friendships. Many memories.”
After the farm sold, Watts and sister Deb leased a lot from a local business in the village but a zoning change forced him to reconsider options. That’s when Watts called up Traders Point Creamery owner Fritz Kunz who had always said the door was open to use his property if Watts ever needed it.
“He always said I could use his place if it made sense. I told him, ‘I’m in.’ Great place, great people. I’m very thankful for all that.”
He counts his blessings in friendships. “Friends are important to remember this Thanksgiving. Dr. Brokaw kept the family at the farm until Mom passed. One girl at the creamery has worked with us for 30 years seasonally. It’s amazing how many friends we have.”
Through the years, Watts has piled up memories such as his dad bringing him to a mostly Jewish neighborhood to sell trees before realizing their mistake. Another year, a local doctor chose a 13-foot-tree and upon delivery, Watts realized she had 9-footceilings. Her solution? Cut off the tree from the top because the bottom was “too pretty,” Watts says.
He said her husband came home to see the commotion and then wanted the top of the tree placed directly above the tree on the next story of the home, as it would make for entertainment during house tours during the holidays.
This year will be the fourth year for Watts Christmas Tree Farm at the creamery. I twill be offering garlands, centerpieces and, of course, trees big and small. As the oldest tree supplier in the community, Watts continues to pride itself on offering top-notch service to the generations it has served and those new to the experience.
“Come pick out a tree,” Watts says. “We trim and give a fresh cut, put it through the netting machine, andtie atop your car or put it in your trunk.”
They’ll even deliver and set up in-home and remove after the holiday, all while sweeping up errant tree needles for those weary from merry making.
Watts sums up why he continues to juggle tree season around his regular day job. “Why do I do it and what do I enjoy most?” he says. “They go hand in hand. I enjoy it, so I do it. It’s the people, the families who come out as well as the people I work with. Working hard alongside others is rewarding. What’s more fun than selling Christmas trees?”
Payment can easily be made with a card reader scanned from 8 feet away, with receipts emailed. The staff will be wearing masks and signs will be posted as mask-wearing is mandatory in Marion County, where the creamery straddles the county line. Cash and checks will still be accepted.
Watts,9101 Moore Road, opens the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25 @ 9am. Regular hours are 1-6 p.m. daily Mondays through Fridays, Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, call 317/873-2365 or visit wattschristmastreefarm.com.