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With second hobbit house now complete, Cherry Treesort looks toward future expansion

CHINA GROVE — Stationed under the shady canopy at the Cherry Treesort in China Grove is a large, colorful map of the United States protected by sliding plexiglass doors.

During their stay, guests have pinned the place on the map from where they’ve traveled. While the North Carolina portion of the map is almost completely obscured by pins, states as far away as Hawaii and Washington have a pin or two in them as well. About two months ago, the last remaining unpinned state was finally stuck. 

Trent Cherry, founder and owner, thinks it was either New Hampshire or Maine. Although he can’t quite recall which the last holdout was, the feat of landing a guest from every state is not lost on him.

“We’ve had someone from every state come to China Grove now. I think that’s pretty cool,” Cherry said. “If I was Rowan County, I’d like that. It’s bringing in some people who have never heard about it.”

The growing popularity of the Cherry Treesort is why he recently requested approval from the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to build an additional seven homes on the site. Cherry’s request was approved unanimously Monday night. 

If Cherry builds all seven allotted homes, it will bring the total number of structures on the roughly 26-acre property to 14. In addition to five existing tree houses, Cherry recently built two hobbit homes, the second finished just a week ago.

“When I started this, I thought maybe four max,” Cherry said. “Now we’re at seven with people getting mad at me because they can’t get a weekend (reservation).”

The Cherry Treesort, he said, has actually received a boost from the pandemic as travelers have looked for less crowded places to get away. 

“I remember when it first came out, we lost 55 reservations in three weeks. I was like ‘Well, that’s it, we’re going to have to shut down,’ ” Cherry said. “They started coming back around and then it just picked up a lot because people wanted somewhere to go.”

Many weekends have been booked solid, he said, and some customers have started staying during the week. A group of about 15 retirees from Calabash recently spent a few days there and booked their stay at   after stumbling across an article in a magazine. 

Such features or spots on travel blogs is about as much advertising as Cherry does. Word of mouth, he said, seems to be the main way people hear his endeavors.

Cherry said his favorite part is welcoming people from other places to China Grove.

“It’s fun to have people come in,” Cherry said. “They come back and they’re like ‘Wow, China Grove.’ I tell the locals and they’re like ‘Really?’ Man, if you don’t live here and you’re not used to seeing it, it’s pretty cool.”

Cherry expects to start construction on the additional tree houses in June, but work on the road connecting the houses will begin as early as this week.

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