11/21/2013 2:54:00 PM Damariscotta Business Sells 'Christmas Tradition'
Waldoboro resident Bill Karas is the proprietor of Evergreen Farms. (J.W. Oliver)
Nancy Post (left) and Viola Hoch make wreaths at Evergreen Farms in Damariscotta. The Waldoboro sisters came to work for Evergreen Farms about 26-27 years ago. (J.W. Oliver photo)
A new business in Damariscotta will make about 20,000 Christmas wreaths this season for wholesale customers from Maine to Florida.
The business, Evergreen Farms, will also offer individual wreaths and Christmas trees for sale to the public at 85 Church St., formerly home to Cottage Gardens.
The greenhouse next to the old flower shop, quiet since the closing of Cottage Gardens late last year, has become a hive of activity, with a 10-member crew hard at work to make and deliver the wreaths.
Bill Karas of Waldoboro owns Evergreen Farms. "It's Christmas tradition; that's what we're selling," Karas said during a Nov. 12 tour of the facility.
Karas has been in the wholesale wreath business since the late 1970s. The business was on Winslows Mills Road in Waldoboro before the move to Damariscotta in October.
At its peak, Evergreen Farms would make 40,000 wreaths every season. Today, Karas estimates the number at 20,000.
Local "brushers" supply the balsam fir branches for the wreaths. The crew, which includes several longtime employees, crafts the raw material into wreaths, either by hand or with machines.
"What we're doing is tradition," Karas said.
The wreaths range in diameter from the industry standard of a foot down to 8 inches and all the way up to 6 feet. The all-time Evergreen Farms record is 12 feet, an early 1990s special order for a store at The Maine Mall.
Evergreen Farms has clients around Maine and New England and south along the East Coast to Virginia, Georgia and Florida. The clients include garden centers as well as many schools, churches and nonprofits that re-sell the wreaths to raise money.
Evergreen Farms also makes other fir products, like crosses and sprays.
The wholesale business will wind down in early December. The retail business will likely pack up the weekend before Christmas, and then Evergreen Farms will move out.
The opportunity for a retail location close to downtown Damariscotta was attractive, and Portland-area customers appreciate the shorter drive, Karas said, but the wreath business is seasonal.
Gary and Jane Gravel of Damariscotta own the 1.68-acre property, which is currently for sale for $199,000.
For more information about Evergreen Farms, call 207-975-6499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.