The weather Friday didn't exactly lend itself to pleasant meandering through the combined Boy Scout troops 318 and 328 Christmas tree lot, but the good news is there's still lots of time left to shop for just the right holiday fir or spruce.
The two troops have joined up to operate the Christmas tree sales lot at 2570 American Way in Grand Junction, next to American Furniture Warehouse.
Sales began Friday, and the lot will be open Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.
If history is any guide, tree shoppers can expect the lot to sell out around Dec. 18, as has happened in past years.
About 130 trees in two semi-trailers were delivered to the lot last week. The selection — purchased from Dutchman Tree Farms in Michigan — include balsam fir, Black Hill spruce, Douglas fir and Fraser fir varieties of tree. Trees for sale range in size from 5 feet to 11 feet tall.
Members of Troop 328 are the usual annual operators of the tree lot, but amid increasingly strained resources and declining numbers the troop sought out Troop 318 to assist this year.
"We were curious about starting it ourselves, but it's a big investment and endeavor. So we were happy to just join them," said Brandi Vigil, a scout mom with Troop 318.
Vigil said other scout fundraisers, like selling popcorn and Christmas wreaths, become less profitable as scouts age from Cub to Boy Scouts, so the tree lot sales are important to keeping the local troops flush.
"It's a huge fundraiser," Vigil said about the tree lot. "The trees are obviously a huge investment, but the returns are bigger, too."
"We really need the funds in our troop," she added.
Proceeds from the tree sales will assist Boy Scouts by helping to pay for troop supplies, dues, camping, merit badges and awards, as well as educational programs.
Vigil — who has a 17-year-old scout son pursuing his Eagle, and another 11-year-old son in scouts — said troop money is tight and there are lots of camping trips that could use the community funding.
"If we don't have funds for the scouts, then families are just putting in money anytime something needs to be paid," she said.
Scouting provides important and unique experiences for her boys, who started as young Tiger scouts, Vigil said.
"More than anything they love the camaraderie and going camping, and just the opportunity to hang out with other boys and men, and do guy stuff," she said.
Along the way they learn survival and other life skills, trying to attain dozens of merit badges in subjects that are both hobby- and career-oriented.
"It gives them a good knowledge base for anything," she said, about the diverse scouting program.
As an extra bonus today, Santa Claus will stop by the tree lot from 1 to 3 p.m. for free photos.
Aside from the combined troop lot in Grand Junction, local Boy Scout Troop 303 also operates a similar Christmas tree lot out front of the former Sutherland's near Mesa Mall.
That lot is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.