People and Places with Pierce: Crab Pot Christmas Trees

SMYRNA, N.C. (WNCT) – As the halls are decked this holiday season, crab pots probably aren’t at the top of the holiday decoration list, but maybe they should be.

“Well it’s a crab pot tree,” explained Don Acree, owner of Fisherman Creations, the company that makes Crab Pot Christmas Trees.

It’s a simple idea perfected by one man: Neal Harvey.

“I was in the business of making trawls and crab pots for commercial fishermen really,” said Neal Harvey, creator of Crab Pot Christmas Trees. “We started making the crab pots and then we just got the idea to cut some pieces of scrap that we had leftover in the shop and we started putting lights on them.”

How are they made?

“Crab pot or crab trap wire,” said Acree. “That comes into us in rolls.”

“A lot of people don’t know what it is but this wire is treated with this coating on it so it lasts as long in salt water,” explained Harvey.

“It’s brought over to our cutting area,” said Acree. “There are ultimately several panels for the tree that are made. And then from there they go over to our department where we light the trees. We have a special jig that Mr. Harvey had made where they go around the tree one way, go around the tree back and forth and back and forth. And then they go to our shipping department and sent off all over the country.”

It’s an idea that didn’t quite take off at first.

“A lot of people were still hesitant, ” explained Acree. “But we grew the business.”

Well over 100,000 trees have been sent all over the U.S. and overseas since Harvey came up with the idea a decade and half ago.

Crab Pot Christmas Trees come in a variety of sizes from one and a half feet all the way up to eight feet. The big selling feature with these is the fact that once you’re done with them for the season, they fold back nice and flat for easy storage.

“You don’t have to take the lights off,” said Harvey. “You just open it up, pin it together, and the lights are on it.”

“The word love pops up so many times on Facebook comments, on our site, and letters that we get,” said Acree. “People just fall in love with the tree.”

“It comes from the communities of commercial fishermen,” explained Harvey. “That’s where they were made, started out being made, was in Davis.”

And even after Harvey sold the business in 2009, Crab Pot Christmas Tree making has stayed Down East.

“I thought it was important because it was part of the tradition, the heritage, of the tree,” said Acree.

So as you pull out the Christmas decorations this year, remember this: it doesn’t get any more eastern North Carolina than a Crab Pot Christmas Tree.

 

Pierce is always looking for interesting and unique people and places to visit. If you have an idea, send him an email or a message on Facebook or Twitter.

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