Tuesday, December 8, 2015
[Tree Riders on 2nd Avenue]
EVG correspondent Stacie Joy braved the wilds of the East Village tree stands in recent days. Here's a look at what some of them have to offer...
Location: Rite Aid, 5th Street and First Avenue, Evergreen’s temporary homemade hut’s address is 77 First Ave.
Vendor: Jonathan Papillon Blanc, you can contact him by email
Jonathan (above), and his business partner, Ben, have been selling trees and Christmas goods at this location for five years. From Canada, they come down to sell holiday supplies for the season. They have everything from tiny $5 Charlie Brown “trees” (think a branch or two on a wooden base) and homemade reindeer sculptures, $30 3-foot Douglas firs to $65 6-foot balsams.
There are $20-$25 tabletop trees with stands (a popular choice while I was there), and wreaths in the $15 to $20 range depending on ornamentation level. Also at this location: garlands (2 feet for $5), homemade swags decorated with bows and a hook for $5, tree wrapping/netting, and some of Jonathan’s girlfriend’s homemade sand dollar-based tree ornaments.
Trees are sourced mainly from North Carolina and Tennessee, and delivery options exist. Jonathan is especially eager to help people get the right tree for their needs, and was willing to work within people’s budgets. This was the only place I saw frosted Fraser firs for sale.
Location: Key Food, 4th Street and Avenue A
Most of the trees here are North Carolina based, with Fraser firs going for $35 for a 3- to 4-foot tree, and living, potted mini-cypress trees at $30. Also for sale, large decorative pine cones for $5, holly boughs for $6, poinsettia for $8, and 6- to 7-foot Frasers for $70. Christmas cacti from $5 to $10, Charlie Brown trees with wood stands for $20, decorated wreaths from $15 to $25, depending on size.
Raymond will trim the trunk for you, and offers local (note: very local) delivery options. There was also the new-to-me swag with juniper berries named Daddy Burger for $10 (I would love to know the story behind the Daddy Burger but wasn’t able to find the etymology online).
While I was visiting, living potted mini spruce trees ($10 to $30) with large red bows seemed to be selling fast, as well as $10 Christmas amaryllis plants wrapped in holiday foil, and a bunch of $40 tree-based reindeer sculptures were just being delivered to people’s delight. Lots of options for home decoration are available here, and they are open 24 hours per day.
Location: Sunny & Annie’s Deli, 6th Street and Avenue B
Vendor: Juan, with assistance from local building super, also named Juan
Sunny and Annie’s has a small selection of trees, wrapped and ready to go. They were a bit shy regarding images and information but they offer balsam and Fraser firs, with a 4-foot tree going for $35, and a 6-footer for $60. They will trim the bottom of the tree for you and wrap it, and they offer stands for $15 to $20. No delivery or decorations at this time.
Location: St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, 10th Street and Second Avenue
Name: Tree Riders NYC
Vendor: (from left below) Kevin, Joseph and Edward
The Tree Riders, selling at this location for the past five years, had the largest selection of trees and Christmas supplies I saw, a staff of people who prided themselves on their commitment to the environment, and were very knowledgeable about the trees they sold.
They sell a wide selection of trees from family-farm Fraser firs from Virginia, Pennsylvania-raised Douglas firs, and the Canaan fir, a balsam-like, East Coast-based affordable hybrid. Prices were also wide ranging here and a bit higher than other tree sellers, from the 2- to 4-foot trees in the $25 to $55 range, 6-foot trees from $70 to $120, and 9-footers from $120 to $250. The Charlie Brown trees here weren’t tree tops; they were small but fully grown harvested trees.
All the trees I was shown had been hand-selected and cut within the past 72 hours, and the vendors offered a lots of add-on services, such as custom tree decoration at your home or office, tree set-up and removal (which is then mulched), specialty tree orders (I spied a 20-foot-tall tree), plus delivery all over Manhattan, often by custom cargo bike.
Wreaths were available in heart shapes, peace signs, and traditional rounds in varied sizes, made on-site by Erica, and priced from $15 to $130. This was the only place that sold mistletoe, which I was informed, was hand-harvested recently in Oregon. Lights, tree-disposal bags, decorations and holly boughs also available, as were instructions on the care of the tree.
Location: East Houston and Essex Street
Name: Holiday Tree Stand
Vendor: Tim (on left) and Brian
This family- and friend-run stand (staffed by folks from Brooklyn) has been at this busy and well-trafficked location for nine years and while they sell a wide range of trees and supplies, they would not quote any prices (but from what I overheard during my visit, prices seemed competitive). Available trees were Fraser firs and balsams, from 2.5 feet tall up to approximately 10 feet.
Trees were sourced from Nova Scotia and North Carolina. All the Charlie Brown trees were sold out, but there were some tabletop trees. Local delivery available, wrapping and netting, trunk trimming and plenty of lights, decorations, and wreaths for sale.
Plus, tags supporting TreeCycle/MulchFest 2016 (January 9-10, see nyc.gov/parks/mulchfest for more information). I also spied some “snow in a can” here, which I didn’t see at other locations. Tim reminds tree buyers to keep their trees standing in fresh water, and far away from radiators and heat sources.
Location: Whole Foods, East Houston at Bowery
Whole Foods has some rules about photographing their employees, but they were happy to have me take photos of their merchandise. Only Fraser firs available at this location, and sizes from tabletop (complete with stand) for $20, and 5 to 6 foot firs for $50, 7 to 8 footers at $60, garlands at 20 feet for $7.50.
Wreaths with red bows were also available for $12. Whole Foods offers wrapping, trunk trimming, delivery below 20th Street, and also had some potted lavender trees, living Euro cypress (in burlap) and potted lemon cypress for $6 to $16. Decorations and additional foliage for sale indoors and upstairs.
Location: St. Mark’s Market, 21 St. Mark’s Place between Second and Third Avenues
No one was available to talk to me, but there was signage indicating that unwrapped trees were $40 for a small and $60 for a large, and stands and wreaths were $14 apiece.
Location: 14th Street and First Avenue
This vendor refused to speak to me, so I don't have any information or anything except for some images, which I was permitted to take. Despite the festive nature of the giant blow-up Santa, snowman and nutcracker, the vendor didn’t seem too happy to be there. The trees and wreaths looked nice though.
Location: TD Bank, 1st Street and Second Avenue
Name: Wulfgang and Beyon’s Fresh Cut Trees
Vendor: Wulfgang (left) and Beyon
This artistic duo, whose tree shop is new this year, has been operating 24 hours per day since Thanksgiving. Available trees are the Fraser fir and Douglas fir, sourced from upstate New York and western Massachusetts. There appeared to be some confusion between the two owners over pricing, but in general, Charlie Brown trees go for $20 to $25, 3-foot trees for $30 to $35, 6-foot trees for $60 to $100, and larger trees anywhere from $150 to $250. Wreaths and handmade wooden ornaments (some secular ones too) available for sale here, plus tree trunk trimming, tree wrapping/netting, and local delivery (that is, anywhere within East Village “walking distance”).
What made this tree-selling stand different was that they named their trees, mostly after friends’ dogs. You could take home a large Lieutenant Dan tree, or a sweet 5-footer named Doughnut. A bushy Gandalf was being looked-over when I visited.
All photos by Stacie Joy