Dependable Erection

Friday, October 31, 2008

"Tis the season

Back in the day, oh 1978 or so, i managed a Christmas tree lot on Long Island a couple of seasons for a guy named Charlie King. Charlie was in his 50s then, so if he's still around he'd be in his 80s. No idea if his business is still going. Charlie ran a pretty high class operation. We were getting 35 bucks or so for Douglas and Frazier firs from the North Carolina and Pennsylvania mountains. Some of the lots were small, tucked into unused corners of strip mall parking lots like the one i managed on Route 25 and Patchogue - Mt. Sinai Rd. in Selden. We had a pretty good year, i was a pretty honest guy (not easy to come by in a business that's all cash, with no inventory or sales records.) The next year i got to manage the flagship lot in front of the old Modell's on 112 and Sunrise Highway. I think we grossed about 60K that season. Hard to say because an ex-Marine named Don (or maybe Ron) would swing by about every 3 hours to pick up the cash. Charlie rented about 15 or so spaces across Long Island to sell his trees. The small ones were maybe 5000 square feet. The Modell's lot was probably closer to an acre. It wasn't confined to the parking lot, but spread out across a pretty good chunk of lawn as well.

The two years i worked for Charlie, we started setting up the lots on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We had these cups, sections about a foot tall or so cut from corrugated pipes (and not the plastic ones, either), nailed onto two-by-fours like a miniature railroad track for standing trees up on the asphalt. For the lawns, he'd rent a tractor with an auger and drill a few hundred holes in the ground that we'd pop corrugated sleeves into to support the trees. He'd hire one person to run the small stands, two for the larger ones, and we were free to hire our own temp help for tying out once we settled in.

I mention this because the twenty or so of us got all 15 of the lots ready for business between the day after Thanksgiving and that Sunday, when we sold our first trees. Including stringing the lights and attaching to the electrical system, and getting the stands ready for anywhere from 150 to 400 trees.

Anyway, it seems like you need to get started a little earlier these days.

That's the TROSA lot on Hillsborough Rd., in the Advance Auto lot. It'll be open for business on November 26th.

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