“Our family has been selling trees in Long Beach for almost 60 years," Rich Todd said. "I feel blessed to have grown up on this lot and in this community.”
Rich Todd is the son of Jan Todd, the 78-year-old woman who founded Todd’s Christmas Trees with her husband Gene in 1959. Rich and his brother and sister have been part of the family business since birth.
“My daughter’s birthday is Dec. 26,” Jan said. “I worked the whole Christmas season and she was born the next day.”
For Jan, selling trees was in the blood. Jan’s parents started a Christmas tree lot when she was 12 years old. The oldest of eight children, Jan and her siblings pitched in and helped her parents.
“It was a lot of work, but it was fun,” Jan said.
A few months after Jan married her Lakewood High sweetheart, Gene Todd, the newlyweds opened their own Christmas tree business.
“My husband just loved it,” Jan said as she spoke about Gene, who passed away in 2005.
“Gene was a great guy,” said Ron, a carpenter who has spent decades of Decembers working on the lot. “When the Todd kids were little, they would run around and knock the Christmas trees down. One day, Gene smiled and told me to take care of them, so I hog tied them and put trees on top of them. They stayed there until Jan asked where her kids were.”
Rich Todd laughed as he listened to Ron.
“We have customers that tell me they remember seeing me in diapers," he said. "I’ve been here my whole life. And my daughters are just the same. It’s great.”
All three of his girls work at the lot. His middle child, Tiffany Todd, said she likes to do her homework behind the counter, in between ringing up customers and answering the phone.
“We’re open 12 hours a day, so the days can get long and really hectic,” Tiffany said. “But it’s great spending time with my family, and our customers are amazing. They come back year after year and they feel like family too.”
Jan said that people know they can get quality trees and good service when they come to Todd’s. She said the only thing that has really changed over the years is technology.
“We now use computers to order our trees and track deliveries online and we use cell phones to communicate with the drivers,” Jan said. “Those things are really great. And my granddaughters are wonderful about showing me what to do if any of the programs get confusing.”
Local celebrities like Olympian Tony Azevedo and members of the rock group Sublime have patronized the lot, but Ron said that customers all get the same treatment from the staff at Todd’s.
“We’re just friendly and helpful to everyone,” he said.
“We have trees from 2 to 12 feet,” Rich said. “Douglas, Noble, Fraser and Grand. And they can be flocked too. We have purple, pink, gold, red, green, blue and black flocking, so customers can choose the colors of their favorite sports team or whatever. And we offer delivery.”
He said they were providing more than trees.
“It sounds kind of silly, but people walk around smiling when they’re here," Rich said. "This place just brings out the Christmas spirit in everyone. And that makes us feel great.”
Todd’s Trees is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day until Christmas. The lot is at 640 Ximeno Ave., next to the Musical Theatre West office.