People travel thousands of miles to sell Christmas trees on the streets of Manhattan — meet an Alaskan family who has been doing it for 21 years

Christmas Tree vendors, new york city

  • Christmas tree vendors always pop up around New York City after Thanksgiving.
  • The Gilmartins are an Alaskan family who spend the holidays selling evergreens in Manhattan, and have for 21 years.
  • They sleep in a camper and shower at a nearby hostel, taking 12-hour shifts to sell trees around the clock.

‘Tis the season in New York City, which means miniature evergreen forests have sprouted up every few blocks. The Christmas tree-sellers have come to town.

Despite a coniferous tree shortage, vendors have come from all around North America to make some extra cash and brave the crowds and the cold. Newsday reported the market is open to practically anyone — you don’t need a license to sell Christmas trees on the city sidewalks.

Business Insider spoke with the Gilmartins, an Alaskan family running a stand on 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue.

Back in 2015, AP reported they sell about 500 trees a season, earning around $14 an hour.

Married couple Tom and Michele have sold trees in Manhattan for 21 years, and their son Rory has accompanied them on the journey since he was a baby.

“What an adventure, right?” Tom told Business Insider. “We feel like we’re part of this place, for sure.”

This story was originally published in December 2017.

The couple hails from Nikiski, Alaska. Both work in the commercial fishing industry. Tom caught the Christmas tree bug from his sister, who sold trees in Manhattan for 30 years.

Tom said there was a lull in business at the fisheries at the time. “There was nothing to do,” Tom said. The couple had a rough time during their first year, but they just kept coming back and got used to the work.

When Rory was little, Michele would carry him on her back or put him in a baby swing attached to the stand. He grew up playing in the stacks of trees — climbing up on the pile or crawling between the rows.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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