DOBSON — As owner of the Hitchn Post General Store on U.S. 601 south of Dobson, Kristi Proffit looks forward to decorating for the holidays.

“Fourth of July, Halloween, but Christmas is by far the biggest,” Proffit said. “We have people who come through just to see them. They’ll ask, ‘What are you doing this year?’ and get really excited.”

The outside of the log-cabin style store was looking festive Sunday evening after Proffit and some employees spent hours putting up and decorating several artificial trees with lights, pine cones and red birds.

“We were almost finished last night when we left,” she said.

When she returned to the store at 5:30 a.m. Monday, the trees were strewn all over, and the centerpiece, a 71/2-foot tree, was missing. Video footage captured someone loading the tree into the bed of white pickup truck.

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“It was a wreck out here. They left everything but took the big tree,” she said.

Proffit scrambled to clean up the mess in between the morning rush and serving the lunch crowd. Besides the usual convenience store fare, the store has a small snack bar where regulars gather to eat hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders. The store has a country charm, sitting on a pastoral stretch of U.S. 601 lined with fields.

Each year, Proffit arranges a visit with Santa that draws around 50 kids from the area. This year’s visit, scheduled for Dec. 14, was to include a picture with Santa in front of the tall tree that was stolen.

Proffit called the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, but she was reluctant to do so, figuring that the person who stole the tree may not have had the money to buy one.

“We’re good people here,” Proffit said. “We’re all about Christmas, and you know what Christmas means. If they needed the tree, I gladly would’ve given it to them.”

Proffit planned to spend the rest of the day cleaning up the mess and getting the decorations back in order.

“It won’t be nearly as pretty as it was,” she said, “but we’ll put some stuff out there.”

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lodonnell@wsjournal.com

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@lisaodonnellWSJ

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