Needling a good deal

It’s hard out here for a Christmas tree vendor. Tree sellers, who are ubiquitous on city street corners this time of year, must guard the trees and wreaths 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the 25th.

“We’ve had attempted robberies before,” said Henry Romp, whose family has hawked the festive evergreens at the corner of Jane Street and Eighth Avenue since 1988.

“Mostly it’s just drunk people coming home from the bar who think it’d be funny to grab a cute little tree,” said Romp, 19. “But last year we had one guy who tried to distract the night watchman by pretending to buy a tree and another guy who tried to steal one.”

The Romp family comes down from Vermont to sell the trees. Many of sellers in the city are from Nova Scotia. “They hitch rides on tractor trailers that bring down the balsam firs,” said Romp. “I can make more in one month here than I can in doing slate roofing in Vermont.”

The ones we leave behind

“We leave at midnight on Christmas Day and leave the trees behind,” Romp revealed. “So people who want free trees, show up at 12:30 a.m. on the 25th.”

But by the afternoon of the 25th most of the trees in the city have been removed by private companies that charge vendors like the Romps for pickup — $7 for every tree left behind. Most are turned into mulch, he said.


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