Live reindeer at Watson’s Greenhouse & Nursery

For the first time ever, reindeer lived at Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery in Puyallup from November 18, 2011 to December 26, 2011. Susan Williams, annuals manager at Watson’s, explained why the reasoning for the reindeer, “There was a nursery similar to us in Seattle that had reindeer for years and I’m sure we’ll continue to have them since it was very popular. We did an advertising campaign by renting some reindeer.  The reindeer normally live near Spokane in a town called “Reardan”. We got the reindeer a week before Thanksgiving. The guy who brought them said they had no personality. They had personality like ponies or goats…they’re curious and we hung a tree upside down for them and they were bashing it around with their antlers; having a good time. We also gave them a foam ball to chew on. They like the following snacks: apples and they loved raisins. The reindeer ate out of employees’ hands. It was quite fascinating and I liked them a lot. Hundreds of people came to see them. New shoppers came to see the reindeer, it was fun.”

According to Susan, the staff at Watson’s named the reindeer, and “Donder” and “Blitzen.” The reindeer were approximately two years of age. Donder and Blitzen were housed in a large pen at Watson’s that had rhododendrons under an overhead covering, so the reindeer remained dry. “They want to be cold rather than warm; they’re reindeer, they come from the arctic,” Susan stated. Susan discussed how the public interacted with the reindeer, “People would stand and stare at the reindeer and take pictures. The reindeer are not tame enough for people to pet them. Reindeer are used to having people around them and spend most of the year running on land, so they are semi domesticated.”

Susan shared, “The reindeer people sent food for example, bags [of food] that looked like rabbit pellets, alfalfa (which was like a bale of hay), and a water container. We provided the straw for the reindeer to walk and lay on. We also cleaned them; several of our employees did most of the work.”

Since temporarily caring for and housing the reindeer was an advertising strategy to have customers come to the nursery, Susan believes it helped with sales at Watson’s in the long run. “People now know we exist,” Susan said. Susan shared what she thought of the advertising strategy, “I liked it, and they’re beautiful animals and quite interesting. Adults thought that reindeer were made up creatures that did not exist. It’s interesting to educate people and school groups about them.”

Susan believed the best thing about having the reindeer, “The number of people that were able to see something that they ordinarily wouldn’t see.” Susan mentioned some interesting reindeer facts, “Male and female reindeer both have antlers and they fall off every year and grow them again.”

Susan discussed how Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery is different than others, “We have a beautiful, beautiful green house from Belgium if you like plants, and it’s gorgeous here. We’re open year round and grow our own poinsettias and geraniums. We are open close to 365 days a year and are closed for a few holidays.” When asked who she recommended visit Watson’s, she replied, “Everybody. We have something for everybody, we have plants, we have gifts, and a little café inside…we have it all.”

For those who missed the reindeer, they will be back next year around Thanksgiving until about Christmas. “I think as many adults were thrilled as kids. Interesting adults came and grandparents with grand kids. I think it’s an all age experience,” Susan commented. For more information about the greenhouse and nursery, please visit: watsonsgreenhouse.com.

By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com