MICHELE NORRIS, host:
If you've noticed an upside-down Christmas tree in the holiday section of a store recently, your eyes were not playing tricks on you. Inverted trees are the latest trend in holiday decorating--yes, inverted. An artificial tree is suspended upside down from the ceiling, or it hangs from a wall in your house. These bottoms-up trees are so popular that at least one high-end retailer, Hammacher Schlemmer, is having a hard time keeping its $600 prelit model in stock. Dan Loughman is the vice president of product development for Roman Incorporated, an Illinois-based company that's been importing the fake trees for the past few years. He says they were originally produced as in-store displays.
Mr. DAN LOUGHMAN (Vice President, Product Development, Roman Incorporated): By having a tree upside down, you're taking a very small footprint on the floor, and you're placing all the ornaments at eye level. And then the retailers can move their store products around the bottom of the tree or on shelves, you know, just behind it.
NORRIS: So this began as a product for retailers. How is it that it became popular for home use?
Mr. LOUGHMAN: Well, I think consumers go into retail stores to buy ornaments, and they buy their trim and--to get a certain look. Whatever they see in the store they want to replicate at home.
NORRIS: What do you do with the star, which you would normally put at the top of the tree?
Mr. LOUGHMAN: You know, I would personally place it at the bottom. If you're going to invert the tree, do the whole inversion.
NORRIS: Inverted trees do have a long history. In the 12th century, Central Europeans would hang candle-laden trees from the ceiling to represent the Holy Trinity. But the 21st-century artificial trees are more a nod to the gods of commerce. Again, Dan Loughman.
Mr. LOUGHMAN: The Christmas tree does have a long-standing tradition back to the 1500s, and you can hear stories of Martin Luther or St. Boniface. But as far as turning it upside down, it's strictly for the retail use. And it's kind of nice to see the tree almost like growing out of the ceiling. You see the branches spread across the ceiling, and it places all your cherished ornaments at eye level: the ornament your child made in school, the one your grandmother handed down to you, the one you bought on vacation. They're more prominent.
NORRIS: So your Christmas tree ends up something like a chandelier, albeit a large green one. You might be wondering: How do you install it? Loughman recommends a bracket on the ceiling. And if you're worried about the mark that might leave long after Christmas has passed, Loughman suggests spackling it over, or he says be creative and hang something else from it. Even Loughman doesn't imagine the family gathering around an upside-down tree on Christmas morning.
Mr. LOUGHMAN: It's not the main one you're going to have in your house 'cause you want the tradition and the normalcy. But as far as adding a second tree in your home that you can place between two winged chairs and not take up any floor space, this is perfect for that.
NORRIS: Dan Loughman is vice president of product development for Roman Incorporated. The Illinois-based company imports artificial Christmas trees. And if you're hoping to get one of these trees, you'd better act fast. Dan told us he sold out yesterday.
MELISSA BLOCK (Host): This is NPR, National Public Radio.
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