John Weaver, the president of family-owned and operated Weaver Tree Farms in West Jefferson, N.C., is kicking off his 33rd holiday season selling trees in the Scenic City.
And while the reach of Weaver Tree Farms has grown throughout the U.S., sitting outside his Touring Edition Crusader trailer and his Dodge truck earlier this fall, Weaver's comfort level in Chattanooga is as homegrown as his products.
"I love Chattanooga. It really is like our second home," Weaver says.
His connection to the city originally started when he was at Appalachian State University, as the Mountaineers sports teams were annual competitors with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
His father, John D. Weaver, and his uncle, Dale Shepard, started the farm in 1967, and Weaver was part of the original foray into Chattanooga, selling trees on Signal Mountain Road across the street from the entrance to Baylor School.
After several years there, the Weavers bought the lot next to the Baylor entrance and have been selling trees there every year since. According to Weaver, they have expanded almost every year, in terms of appearance and numbers.
First there was the the addition of the tents. Then the lights. Then the huge inflatables. Then there was adding more lots around their adopted second home. Then there was, well, you get the idea.
For the last six years, Weaver has also been selling pumpkins on the lot before Halloween.
"It's really a wonderful, family-run business," says Tommy Farmer, who has helped on the lot long enough to become fast friends with Weaver. "They do everything the right way."
The right way has proved the correct way, too, from a business approach.
Weaver estimates they moved anywhere between 2,500 and 2,800 trees last year from their various locations in and around Chattanooga.
"We start filling our commercial (tree) orders now," Weaver says, standing amid the pumpkins in mid-October, "then we start making plans to come back to Chattanooga.
"Yeah it's time away from the family," he says in reference to his wife Suzanne, who is also part of the family business, and their three kids, Will, Madison and Liza, "but there's something special about this place."
And something special about what he does here.
"You start to see the same people every year and make those relationships," Weaver says. "That's the really great part. To see those friends and see the smiles."