Have you ever heard of the Chubby and Tubby variety stores? Back in the day they were a Seattle institution. They were known for cheap Converse shoes, cheap fishing supplies, cheap everything.
It's been about 12 years since the Chubby and Tubby stores shut down, but it turns out their cheap Christmas tree tradition lives on.
Mike DiCecco sells Chubby and Tubby Christmas trees every December at MJD Distributors Garden Center, his nursery on Aurora Ave North in Shoreline.
After the Chubby and Tubby stores closed, DiCecco bought the rights to the name and contracted with the old supplier.
"We just decided to keep it going because it was a Seattle tradition and we didn't want to see that go away,” DiCecco said.
It was personal for DiCecco. He worked for the Chubby and Tubby stores for more than 30 years. Before the last surviving owner passed away he told DiCecco to keep the tradition alive.
"He said, keep the store going if you can and keep the trees going. And he was like a second father to me so I really felt like we've got to do that," DiCecco said.
DiCecco said many of his customers had Chubby and Tubby trees growing up and the name still brings people to his nursery at Christmas time.
That's true for Emily Wade. She used to go to the Chubby and Tubby stores as a kid. They’d drive past them on the way to visit her grandparents. She loves their Christmas trees.
“I just wanted one that's small and special and unique,” Wade said.
And that’s what you get when you buy a Chubby and Tubby Christmas tree. The quintessential Chubby and Tubby tree is a wild Douglas fir. It's not full and shaped, and there are gaps between the branches.
“It's kind of like the old Charlie Brown tree,” DiCecco said.
But it’s not just the way the tree looks that brought Wade to DiCecco’s nursery. “It’s the right price," she said.
And "the right price" is a big part of what defines a Chubby and Tubby Christmas tree, too.
Back when DiCecco started working at the stores they sold Douglas firs for just $3. Now, DiCecco is selling the trees for $19.99.
They’re not as cheap as they used to be, but cheaper than a lot of trees on the market.
"That was a very important part of the Chubby and Tubby tradition, was the owners wanted people to be able to afford a Christmas tree that couldn't. And you know, a lot of people are very thankful that we have a tree at $20," DiCecco said.
The Chubby and Tubby trees aren’t the only kind DiCecco sells. He has a variety of Christmas trees. But he’s proud to carry on the tradition with the cheap Douglas firs.
And they’re are going fast. DiCecco started the season with a couple of thousand trees and now he's down to dozens.