Christmas Tree Lot’s Humble Beginnings
The streets of South Phoenix were not safe in the 1980’s. The residents weren’t rich, nor were many considered middle class. During that time, there were very few options for fresh Christmas trees in the Valley. But there were no options in South Phoenix. So, wanting to share his pride for the southside, Jimmie got together with his brother Arturo and his brother-in-law Joe Rojo and bought the trees and equipment they needed to open the first-ever Christmas Tree Lot in South Phoenix. The lot was an instant hit with the community. Even today, there are customers who come to the tree lot and share stories of when they shopped for their tree as a child with their parents.
The Christmas tree lot started in the parking lot of the Batters Cage for many years. Far from being an interruption to the batting business, customers enjoyed being able to shop for a tree, cheer on a batter, and enjoy some popcorn and pickles while they did. But success meant finding a bigger place for the lot, as customers and cars jammed into the tight parking lot and created traffic issues when they didn’t fit. So, the lot moved from its original place to a large dirt lot across the street.
The bigger lot meant bigger expenses. Jimmie and the brothers now had to rent fences, lease temporary electricity, buy a mobile shelter for tools and equipment, among other things. The lot looked like it wasn’t going to survive much longer because the old place was too small, and the new location was too expensive. But being the bootstrapper that he was, Jimmie found solutions when anyone else would only see defeat. After the 2nd year at the new location, Jimmie decided to remove many of the the beautiful fruit trees from the front yard of his home on Central Avenue, remove cement fixtures and prepared his own home to serve as the home of the Munoz Family Christmas Trees.
From that year until the present, the Munoz front yard has hosted thousands of people browsing their selection of Christmas trees, coming to visit with the family, eat some of Norma’s amazing tamales, or just warm themselves by the heat of an old citrus orchard petrol powered furnace. The family even dusted off the old popcorn machine they used at the Batters Cage and began offering freshly popped popcorn to guests of the Christmas Tree Lot.