This Queens native runs some of the largest Christmas tree stands in New York City

For the previous 38 years “Greg’s Trees” has been offering New Yorkers with Christmas timber. School Level, Queens native Greg Walsh began promoting timber from a small stand on the road nook in Brooklyn. Now, he runs some of the largest tree stands in New York City. 

“I love doing it,” Walsh mentioned. “I love meeting the families and the kids coming in, they are so excited. We try to make every sale a fun experience and we work hard for it.”  

Walsh’s 5 distinctive stands, positioned all through the metropolis, present way more than Christmas timber. His stands function crafts, hand-painted Christmas cut-outs for photo-ops, sleds, wood reindeer, visits from Santa and vacation markets with customized wreaths, decorations, centerpieces, ornaments, lights and tree toppers. 

Timber on the market at Greg’s Timber Domino Park location.
The wood reindeer on the market at Greg’s Tree’s vacation market.

“Nobody’s got what we’ve got in New York,” mentioned Eric Kang, one of Walsh’s crew members who helps handle the tree stands and promote timber. 

However earlier than Walsh began promoting timber in the winter, he was promoting fruit at 71st and Broadway in the center of the summer season. 

19-year-old Walsh began promoting fruit over the summer season after his freshman 12 months at the State College of New York at New Paltz. When the summer season was over, he went again to high school for one semester, earlier than dropping out 25 credit into his enterprise diploma. 

He offered fruit full-time for the subsequent 12 years. 

The warmth rising off the metropolis streets throughout the Manhattan summer season pushes most individuals inside. However not Walsh. He didn’t thoughts the warmth or waking up earlier than daybreak to unload the vans of fruit.  

“Not a minute of that entire 12 years did I wish the day was quicker,” Walsh mentioned. “I wished that it was longer. I enjoyed every minute of it, and it was brutal work.”

Three years into promoting fruit in the summer season and pumpkins in the fall, Walsh determined to promote Christmas timber come November.

Throughout that first season, in 1983, Walsh offered timber along with his companions from two “winky dinky little stands” in Brooklyn and Queens, he mentioned. However simply 4 years later, they have been operating eight stands. In 1995 Walsh went again to high school to turn out to be a faculty trainer and taught particular training courses to 18 and 19 year-olds. For ten years he solely ran one stand, however he by no means stopped promoting timber.

This 12 months, Walsh has a brand new stand at Domino Park in Williamsburg the place 2,000 timber will fill the car parking zone by Friday, making it one of Walsh’s largest tree stands ever. On December 5, there can be a tree lighting of a 20-foot tree and visits from Santa and different vacation characters. 

“We’re doing more than we’ve ever done, and I think people are going to like it,” Walsh mentioned. “We have great trees, and it’s really going to be something special.”   

Walsh sells balsam, fraser, silver, nordmann and noble timber. A chalkboard at the tree stand in Domino Park describes the differing kinds of timber. The balsam is conventional and aromatic whereas the fraser is the hottest and the silver is the “next big thing.” 

Walsh is the go-to tree-man. However for a couple of days out of the 12 months, he doubles as Santa Clause. 

On some of the busiest days of the 12 months for Christmas tree gross sales, Walsh isn’t in his truck driving from stand to face to test on his crew. He’s sitting in a wood sleigh chanting “Ho, Ho, Ho.” 

Greg Walsh cheers “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

“I put the Santa suit on and get in the sled and everything just runs,” Walsh mentioned. 

In previous years, Walsh at all times tried to have Santa come to his stands. One 12 months, the employed Santa didn’t present up. Everybody checked out Walsh whose lengthy white beard and jolly smile solely meant one factor. Ever since, Walsh has grown out his beard for the Christmas tree season so he can costume as St. Nick and entertain the crowds who collect at his stands. 

The crew 

Walsh is a one man firm till the season begins. He visits tree farms in Quebec, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Washington State and Oregon to tag timber and take a look at fields. Then he finds the truckers. 

5 trailer masses of timber arrived in the metropolis this week to ship Walsh’s timber. 

The Domino Park stand in Williamsburg opened on Nov. 17. The stands on the Decrease East Aspect at ABC Playground, Park Slope at Greenwood Beer Backyard, McCarren Park and at The Springs in Greenpoint opened on Nov. 24. 

The Domino Park stand is open till midnight. The opposite 4 stands are open 24/7. Walsh has a crew of folks from throughout the United States and even Canada who come to New York to assist him arrange and handle the stands. Many of the members come again 12 months after 12 months. 

“It’s always like a reunion every time we come back,” mentioned crew member Shaun Nakamine.

Greg Walsh and some of his crew members. (Left to proper: Shaun Nakamine, who has been working with Walsh for 4 years, Mike Jacob, new to the crew, Michelle Au Yeung, Walsh’s assistant and Greg Walsh proprietor of Greg’s Timber.)

Nakamine has helped Walsh promote timber at his stands for 4 years. He has been staying in a trailer at the Domino Park tree stand since Nov. 15 to get the timber, tents, decorations, Christmas cut-outs, lights and vacation market arrange. Nakamine will keep in the trailer till Christmas Eve together with two different crew members.

“It’s a side gig that’s very different from a normal job,” Nakamine mentioned. “It’s a month of living in a new place and a little adventure in the city without having the same hustle and bustle.”

Two skinny mattresses relaxation on high of cots, one lays on the flooring. Chilly pizza sits in a field on the counter. Christmas lights line the window. The trailer doesn’t have any operating water. At every tree stand location, Walsh has a gaggle of three to 4 individuals who camp in trailers like this one all season, able to make a sale early in the morning and even in the center of the night time.  

The crew likes to name it “urban camping.”  

Nakamine mentioned it’s higher to be on website as a result of they’re so busy. The crew usually sells over 100 timber a day. They ship timber by bike and truck to folks’s properties. Nakamine has biked over a mile to ship a tree. 

In one other trailer at the Domino Park stand, cardboard packing containers crammed with snow-dusted pine cones and gold, silver and crimson ornaments are stacked floor-to-ceiling. Alfiya Amirova works at a desk in the nook. She sticks skinny white tree branches right into a sage inexperienced wreath and arranges the pine cones and berries round its border. She’s exact and fast, figuring out precisely the place the subsequent ornament will go. 

Packing containers crammed with wreath decorations.

Amirova is a contract florist who has been making customized vacation wreaths for Greg’s Timber for over a decade. She’s recognized Walsh for 15 years and used to make flower preparations for him on Valentines Day, Mom’s Day and Easter. The 2 met in Walsh’s hometown of School Level, Queens at Amirova’s flower stand. 

“Greg asked me if I could do Christmas. I said, ‘Of course I can do Christmas, I can do anything,’” Amirova mentioned. Including, “It’s easy if you have an understanding of color and composition.” 

However Amirova spends hours creating every wreath to make them “perfect,” she mentioned. She mentioned she loves engaged on the wreaths as a result of her work makes folks blissful. 

Alfiya Amirova works on a wreath.

Throughout the lot, different crew members stack timber, lights and instruments right into a U-Haul to take to the different tree stands.   

“Load it up boys,” Eric Kang yells to the crew members.

Kang lives in Quebec, Canada. Eight years in the past, he noticed an advert on Craigslist to affix Walsh’s crew. Each winter he’s been coming to New York to work at the MCcarren Park tree stand on Driggs Avenue in Brooklyn ever since. 

“I’m always seeing the same people every year, and the kids are growing up. The cool part is seeing that, and the trees are growing too,” Kang mentioned. “It’s not just a commercial holiday, it’s about building relationships and being a part of the community.”

Kang is Walsh’s right-hand-man and helps oversee the crew. 

“I try to do things the way I would see Greg would want them done. He’s generous, he’s funny, he’s one of a kind, he’s Santa Clause,” Kang mentioned. 

Source link