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      Christmas tree sellers set up shop for the season

      It's no secret this time of year the Christmas tree industry is seeing lots of green. Last year, 28.2 million live Christmas trees were sold, totaling $1.15 billion in sales. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, a handful of stands could be seen popping up along the Grand Strand.

      Two such stands belong to Salvatore Giresi and his family. The New York transplants say that fresh trees are their family tradition.

      "I've never had an artificial tree," Giresi said.

      The stands take two days each to set up, and will sell more than 400 trees by the day after Christmas. This time last year, Giresi and a partner only operated one stand. He says, enough profit was made to run two. Since opening on Thanksgiving, they had sold more than a dozen trees.

      "The heaviest one weight about 200 pounds. That was a 12-footer," he said.

      Because of drought and wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma from earlier this year sellers in those states are looking to North Carolina for trees.

      Here are some tips from the National Christmas Tree Association on how to keep your tree fresh and fragrant, and avoiding the dreaded D's: dry, droopy and dropped needles:

      *Store the freshly cut tree outside or in an unheated garage until it's ready to be decorated. If temperatures are above freezing, keep the trunk in a pail of water.

      *Before placing a cut tree in water, cut 1 to 2 inches from the trunk, exposing fresh wood that will allow the tree to take up water immediately. However, if a tree that you just cut at a choose-and-cut tree farm is immediately placed inside your home, it probably won't need another cut.

      *After the tree is set up inside, keep the stand filled with water. A tree can absorb a gallon or more of water during the first 24 hours after a cut is made, so a stand with a 1- or 2-gallon reservoir is best. If the cut surface is exposed to air for more than three hours, its ability to continue to draw water is diminished and a new cut would be beneficial.

      *Place the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and vents.

      *Support your tree so it won't fall. A wire can be tied from an upper branch to a window latch, for example.

      *Trim the tree with lights approved by Underwriters Laboratories. Check old lights for bare, broken or unsafe wiring.

      *Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Never use lighted candles as tree decorations. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, overloaded electric outlets and faulty wires are the most common causes of holiday fires.

      *Don't put breakable ornaments or ornaments with detachable parts on lower branches where children or pets can reach them.

      *Turn off all tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed.