When I was growing up, going to get the Christmas tree was always a big event. We would all pile into the car and head for Trenholm Plaza and the Optimist Tree Lot.
The lot was set up yearly on the back side of the plaza (at the entrance which now has the traffic light) between the plaza proper and what I remember as then being woods, though I could be wrong about that. We would always get there after dark, and the place would be kind of a minature forest of Christmas trees standing in holes in the ground with white Christmas lights strung around the whole affair and there would always be a barrell with something burning inside around which the lot hands would warm themselves in between customers.
The trip would always play out as something of a contest between we kids, who wanted the biggest tree imaginable, and our parents who wanted a reasonably priced tree, and one, moreover, which would fit in or on the car for the trip back (we always had sedans or coupes growing up -- no station wagons). In the end, of course, our parents would get the tree they wanted while convincing us that it was the one we had picked out. The lot hands would always have plenty of twine on hand and would somehow get the tree secured for the 2 mile drive home. I believe we usually managed to get most of the tree in the trunk with the lid tied down rather than closed and several feet of tree hanging off the bumper -- I can't remember actually having the tree tied to the top of the car.
In the 80s, the lot beside Trenholm Plaza was developed, or further developed, and the space available to set up the tree lot was no longer sufficient. At that time, the Optimists moved the lot down Trenholm to its current location (pictured) by the Children's Home and the Methodist Church. In recent years, the garden center in the old First Citizen's Bank location in Forest Lake Shopping Center has added Christmas trees in season, so there is still a lot in the general area, but it's not the same.