Tuesday, December 8, 2015

So you want to buy a tree for the holidays in the East Village

[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.
Name: Evergreen
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
Vendor: Raymond

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
Vendor: Dario

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


Anonymous said...

I'll only but my tree from Whole Foods, because artisanal, soy-free, gluten-free..., sourced from the far corners of the North Pole, hand-se;cetd and inspected personally by Mr. and Mrs. Kris K and cut down by the elves and transported here by the reindeers. Plus "potted lavender trees, living Euro cypress (in burlap)"!! and it's all about mindfulness and compassion, which makes you feel great!

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised the stand at 14th and 1st refused to comment. First time I ever bought a real tree -I bought a small tree (about 3 1/2 ft tall) from that guy 3 years ago and was charged 65$, I bought it and later realized that I got robbed. I was out with a friend getting a tree at the shop at st marks church this year and realized similar trees were half the price. oh well ~ sticking with the small fake tree going forward. Happy tree shopping!

Giovanni said...

This is a very nice piece by Stacie Joy. It would be nice to know before buying if the trees are sprayed with any chemicals. One year we got a tree that was so bad we had to throw it out and get another one. It seems like the guy at the 14th St. location is as upset as we are that Grungy Santa is gone. Cheer up, Grumpy Elf, at least you get loads of free publicity on EV Grieve, whether you like it or not.

bayou said...

The nice proprietors of Tree Riders gave me a fresh bough to add as decorative addition to my gift wrapping. It was free as long as I promised to tag them in pics. All roads lead to Instagram.

I recommend them - plus their location is so picturesque.

KD said...

There's another seller on E Houston Street between Avenue C and D.

Anonymous said...

Seconded - there's a new stand this year on Houston between C + D. Would love an update on how their pricing/selection compares!

A little while ago I said...

Lieutenant Dan should be the name given to a stump!

President Camacho said...

Humbuggery. Isn't there a way we can speed up this War on Christmas (TM)? Are people really still hauling these sappy sticky artifacts of a bygone religion for a dead nation into their homes every year? Do they even know why they do this?

Anonymous said...

What about the environmental effects? Seems like such a waste.
Better to buy a small potted tree which you can keep, than a cut tree, no?
Or not tree at all, and decorate in other ways.

- East Villager

marjorie said...

MAN you people are Grinchy. (And I say this as a Jew who would just as soon use your children's blood for matzoh as buy a tree.)

BUT SERIOUSLY, thanks for this fun roundup, Stacie Joy! I'd wondered about the names of the trees on Second and Houston -- I was amused to see a majestic big one named Jon Snow. (That actor Kip whatever is teeny.) I'm pretty sure they also have potted trees, for those who enjoy kvetching about the environmental waste. (I saw a piece somewhere comparing the carbon footprint of a real tree and a fake reusable one (which is made using petroleum products), and it was a wash, fyi.

The guys in front of St Marks Church are always nice.

I work in the flower district and it's fun arriving in the AM to the curb covered in greenery. Today it was humungous wreaths, like 4 feet across. I do love the way all your farshtunkiner goyish trees smell.

Tater said...

I'm a Jewish dog, so no tree for me, but the staff at Tree Riders always treat me like a celibridog and we are lucky enough to walk by and say hi several times a day. We look forward to having them in the neighborhood and wish them a Merry Xmas and a prosperous season.

Anonymous said...

The Standard Hotel is selling Xmas tress out of their back garden. The guy manning their booth said a portion of their profits go to charity. I call BS. All their profits should go to charity. They are also taking income away from small businesses that have done this in the neighborhood for years.

What, if anything do these big companies coming into the neighborhood actually do for the neighborhood except for making money off it? Looking at you Whole Foods, Goode Brothers with the Bowery Hotel and Bowery Bar among others much less Ian Shrager with his deathstar and hotel/condos.