Christmas tree lot will have to move after 40 years

December 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A 40-year tradition appears to be coming to an end in the East Bay. A long time family-run Christmas tree lot across from the Oakland Coliseum may be selling its last trees at that location -- not just for the season, but forever.

The Wiemken's have been selling trees and making Bay Area Christmases white since 1969.

Now, 40 years later, this small family business just off of Interstate 880 in Oakland has become an East Bay landmark.

"When I was a kid, I actually came to this same tree lot, so... a lot of history here for us," said Steve Dumont from Alameda.

Today, brothers Jeff and Brian help run the lot their dad founded.

"I was 12 when I started here. This is the one thing in my life that hasn't really changed," said Brian.

However, it will soon. East Bay MUD owns the property and plans to work on underground trenches. The utility company already put up markers for the project. That's a sign that this could be the last Christmas Santa's Coliseum is located across the freeway from the Oakland Coliseum.

A spokesman for East Bay MUD told ABC7 that while the family will no longer be able to operate out of this specific location, they will be allowed to relocate somewhere nearby.

"They know where we're at. They expect to see us here and I think they'd be awfully shocked next year if they came here and all of the sudden we weren't here," said Jeff.

Even in the face of growing competition from big box stores selling discount trees, business has been steady. It's the future that is now uncertain.

At the peak of the season the lot employs up to 20 people a day, including Luis Chavez.

"I work here only for the season and then I go back to Mexico and I have a farm there," said Chavez.

Chavez is on his 25th year and is hoping it is not his last.


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