By Jeff French Segall
Colby and Hank are back, putting together their annual Christmas tree station at the corner of 90th Street and Columbus Avenue adjacent to St. Martin’s Tower last Wednesday. Both men traveled down to New York from Vermont to bring to market their impressive variety of Christmas trees, which include Balsams, Fraser Firs, White Pine, Concolor Firs as well as wreaths and live potted Dwarf.
Colby was at the St. Martin’s Tower site last year, and Hank was the truck driver delivering approximately 1,000 trees to 20 different Manhattan locations each day. This year Colby will be working days, and Hank will cover the night shift, each of them wrapping up trees and helping to bring winter joy to so many upper west side families. You might see Hank playing his mandolin in the hut at night when business is slow.
Depending upon the species and height, the cost of a tree runs from $20 for a 2-3 foot economy tree to as much as $500 for the 14-foot premium Fraser Firs.
Here are a few FAQ’s that this writer has wondered about in the past:
WSR: What happens to the remaining unsold trees?
Colby: As we get closer to Christmas, we start shifting unsold trees to locations with shortages. At the end of the season last year we had about a hundred that were not sold. We bring them to various drop-off locations such as Randall’s Island where they are chipped and eventually sent to New York City Parks.
WSR: What’s the name of your company?
Colby: Uptown X-MAS Trees.
WSR: Are you sellers salaried or work on commission?
Colby: We’re paid a salary.
WSR: How many locations does your company have in Manhattan?
Colby: We have twenty. Seventeen are in various locations in Harlem.
WSR: How long have you been doing this work?
Colby: It’s in my family. My father started doing it back in the day, and we keep doing it.
WSR: Where is home?
Colby: In Vermont.
WSR: Where do all these trees come from?
Colby: We don’t grow the trees. We buy them from growers. They come from different farms.
WSR: How many trees would any one farm produce in any one year?
Colby: About 10,000. But those are only the ones for sale in that year. The farms are unbelievably huge, with many thousands of trees. They’re located in Canada and in Pennsylvania and Vermont as well.
WSR: And finally, when will the first trees arrive?
Colby: They’re scheduled to arrive tonight (last Wednesday).