So this year, the brother-and-sister team tripled everything, opening up two more stands, hiring two delivery guys and ordering three times as many trees from an evergreen dealer, they said. And when business started on Dec. 1, things got a little crazy.
“The first day, the delivery was late,” said Dan Sevigny. “We already had 90 orders that we needed to fulfill and people were already mad that they weren’t in on time … so, it was already hectic and then the stand fell down on my head.”
The Christmas tree business, they said, is not for the faint of heart.
From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, the siblings facilitate deliveries of trees to anywhere in the five boroughs — a service they offer for free — and oversee the operation of all three of their stands in Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Clinton Hill, which on weekends can get “pretty hectic,” Morgan, 31, said.
“It’s definitely a labor of love. You’ve got to be excited about working a 12-hour day,” she said.
Their season started the day after Thanksgiving this year when a flatbed truck delivered 750 premium, Quebec-raised Fraser firs to their stand at Underhill Avenue and Sterling Place, located in front of Pura Vida, the gym Morgan runs the other 11 months of the year. The Sevignys keep all the trees they’re not immediately selling in the gym's small backyard.
The two Maine natives started the business in 2012 “on a whim,” according to Dan, after seeing tree sellers on Flatbush Avenue and thinking they could offer the same service. Besides, Dan was born on Christmas Day and they thought it'd be fun, he said. After cold-calling tree importers, someone finally agreed to sell to them.
Three years later, they get orders from all over the city with customers buying trees as short as 4 feet (“table-top trees,” Morgan said) all the way up to 14-and-a-half feet — the largest size they have — at $12 a foot.
Sometimes, they said, half their job is helping people figure out how tall their tree should be — like when a customer in Bay Ridge didn’t know quite how much room she had.
“They got one tree and then decided it was too small after we’d already come back [to the stand],” Dan said. “Morgan brought [the new tree] back … and as she was bringing it in, it was too tall for the ceiling, so it was scraping along the top, leaving these green skidmarks. People never know what they want.”
The pair take turns hauling deliveries around in their “trusty sleigh,” Morgan said, a Honda SUV their mother loaned them for the month. In matching bright orange Carhartt work caps, they piled into the car one Monday afternoon with a 7-foot tree ordered from a home in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Customer Katie Helde was ready with candy cane decorations as Dan and Morgan carried the tree to her fourth-floor walk-up. Helde said she usually gets a small, portable tree she can haul herself, but was sold on something bigger this year when she heard about Christmas Tree Brooklyn’s free delivery.
“It’s definitely more fun when it’s this big,” she said as she watched Dan and Morgan straighten the tree in its stand in her living room.
The two finished up in Bed-Stuy at about 4 p.m., but still had two stops to make before 6, they said — in Greenpoint and Clinton Hill.
Though the business is profitable temporarily (“for January, you’re all set,” Morgan put it, with a laugh), the siblings wouldn’t recommend anyone do the job “without your best friend and family,” Dan said.
“We make money. I don’t know if it really justifies the time and how hard it is, but we get to hang out with each other and get to know the neighborhood,” he said.
Christmas Tree Brooklyn stands are located at 184 Underhill Ave. in Prospect Heights, 84 St. Mark's Place in Park Slope and 256 Lafayette Ave. in Clinton Hill. For more information, visit the company’s website.