On bustling 4th Street, in the center of north St. Pete, sits Gallagher’s Pumpkins & Christmas Trees in all its glory. The beloved pumpkin patch and tree farm has been a tradition, not only for the Gallagher family but for families all across Florida for over three decades.
And, in Tampa Bay, it’s not officially fall until it reopens.
“My mom and dad started it the year before I was born, and we’ve been all up and down 4th Street for 34 years,” said David Gallagher, owner of Gallagher’s Pumpkins & Christmas Trees.
Gallagher was born into the business, and it’s been in his blood ever since. He inherited Gallagher’s Pumpkins & Christmas Trees after his father died in 2016, and he and his wife Ciera have taken it to new heights. “What this has become today, I wouldn’t have been able to do without my wife by my side — at all,” Gallagher shared.
When Gallagher’s folks ran the business, it was more of a traditional lot with pumpkins and trees. Now, it’s a truly memorable interactive experience — just as David and Ciera envisioned — complete with a petting zoo, bounce house, food truck, live music on weekends and scads of (literally) picturesque scenery.
“These things that I’ve heard my whole life people just ask about and recommend changing with the times,” Gallagher said.
All in the Family
Though Gallagher has been hanging around the pumpkin patch and tree farm since he was in diapers, he started really working there when he was 10, carrying out trees with his cousin. “We would team up and carry trees together and learn Christmas trees, and pumpkins, and all that.”
Because of his vast experience from being the son of owners and now the owner himself, Gallagher knows well the intricacies of the business and what it takes to pull off such a spectacular operation. Not only could Gallagher not manage without Ciera, but he also couldn’t do without the crew of tremendous workers, all of whom have become family.
Gallagher’s gratitude for them is apparent.
“One of our guys that’s worked 32 years for us — Trevor Groat — he’s like my brother. He’s the hardest working person I have. Another kid, Jack Reedy, is also like a brother. He’s been around since he was six years old. Matthew Prather, I’ve known him since he was born; he grew up across the street from me and works for me all year-’round. A lot of these guys I’ve grown up with.”
Miracle on 4th Street
The team works hard to make Gallagher’s a unique experience for all to enjoy. Haystacks, corn stalks and pumpkins cover this charming plot, bringing a traditional fall atmosphere even though it’s still 90 degrees outside.
“When kids come in, they just start running. They’re just so excited to see everything,” Gallagher said. “We’ve got goats. We’ve got a baby cow. We’ve got llamas. We’ve got guinea pigs. We’ve got all different types of pumpkins (at least 40 kinds). So it’s very fun for the kids and adults.”
“It’s just jaw-dropping what we have here in the city. People walk in and say that they wouldn’t even feel like they’re on 4th Street if it wasn’t for the traffic going by. They’re just awe-struck by it.”
Gallagher’s closes temporarily on Halloween day as Santa’s helpers shuffle in to magically transform the lot into a winter wonderland. Five days before Thanksgiving, it reopens for phase two with the sweet smell of Christmas wafting from wreaths, poinsettias and all. the. trees.
Whatever your preference may be — giant trees, tall trees, round trees, soft trees — you’ll find one that fits your space and your budget. Every tree is farm-grown.
If you live in Pinellas County and can’t make it out to the site, Gallagher’s will deliver a tree of your choosing.
To further bring the Christmas feels, there’s snow — y’know, the white stuff that falls from the sky in cold-weather states. And Santa and Mrs. Claus make time in their busy holiday schedule to stop by every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) through Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m. during phase two.
Oh So Instaworthy!
Gallagher’s offers a classic festive backdrop for all things fall and winter. Ciera brainstorms decor and holiday photo ops, and David constructs it. “It’s not even something that we’ve been planning all year long — it just comes to her,” Gallagher said. “Just like the decorating, she has a vision in her head, and we make it happen.”
Everywhere you look, there are endless opportunities for family photos, blog photos, Instagram photos to share with your friends. The key takeaway is photos are welcomed and encouraged — as long as you’re respectful of those waiting to do the same. For a more leisurely photo shoot (complete with priority access to props), grab a photographer and reserve a time slot.
Gallagher’s is dog-friendly, so don’t forget to bring your pups for pictures! The Gallaghers have Golden Retrievers that you’ll find roaming around and getting loves from everyone. Check out the furbabies story on Instagram.
Business in Tampa did a quick Q&A with David to find out more about the business behind Gallagher’s Pumpkins & Christmas Trees.
BIT: As owners and operators of Gallagher’s, what are Ciera and your primary responsibility?
David: Literally, everything. I mean, we work together to make sure that everything is 100% of all time. Everybody’s happy. We make sure everything’s always clean, always stopped, always moving smoothly. We work such long hours, so we work all the time seven days a week, and there are employees that are here that long too. We just make sure that everybody’s comfortable.
BIT: What is your most significant business or work-related challenge?
DG: The long hours because we are open from 9:00 to 9:00. But we as the owners and everything, don’t make anybody else come in earlier or stay later. And of course, there’s always backend thing of businesses that people don’t see that we have to do.
BIT: How did the pandemic affect Gallagher’s?
DG: It helped business because we’re an outdoor destination. We offer people a place to go and get out. Since we’re outdoors, we didn’t have to enforce masks.
BIT: What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
DG: Hard work pays off big time.
BIT: What is the biggest difference with the business between when you first inherited Gallaghers in 2016 and now?
DG: The supply and demand for Christmas trees; the supply, there’s been a national shortage for a while. So, it’s a very hard thing, and being in the business so long, our name goes a long way to be able to get that stuff. Supply has been down since the recession. The growers overcut trees. Back then, not everybody was buying. We’ve had issues with certain diseases even throughout the years that have played a role in deforming Christmas trees and then letting them keep growing to where they would be a show-quality to put in somebody’s house. There’s an issue right now with certain types of trees out west because of the fires. There’s a huge ordeal with that. There’s a lot of stuff going on out there.
BIT: What’s been a significant shift you’ve noticed in the past decade?
DG: We started taking credit cards when my wife and I took over, and I think that opened up a lot for many people because not everybody has cash or check to buy stuff, especially during the holidays.
BIT: What’s the best part about running Gallagher’s?
DG: You get to see everybody’s joy. You make a lot of people happy with things for the holidays. People wait and plan year-round for Halloween or year-round for Christmas. Everybody’s got their favorite time of the year, and when people come in the gate, their whole vibe changes. It really does.
All images courtesy of Gallagher’s Pumpkins & Christmas Trees
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