On the job: Jose Aracena of Jay’s Christmas Trees

Find out how to tell a crummy Christmas conifer from a good one thanks to Aracena, who’s been selling evergreens during the holidays for 15 years

Jay's Christmas Trees in Sunset Park

Jay's Christmas Trees in Sunset Park Photograph: Alex Strada

Fifteen years ago, Jose Aracena turned an empty Brooklyn lot into a pop-up Christmas-tree shop. These days, Jay’s Christmas Trees sells about 1,000 conifers per season—from tiny Charlie Brown–style picks to 14-foot-tall stunners.

Where do you get your trees?
Most of ’em come from Canada or North Carolina. I go to a warehouse in Canarsie and pick them as they come off of trucks.

How early in the season do you do that?
I go the day after Thanksgiving and place the order. I get about 300 at a time. I don’t wanna buy a truckload of trees, because then the trees will be dry by the time people buy ’em.

How do people cart these guys home?
Sometimes I do customers a favor and deliver them. I don’t charge them. We try to keep people happy. You go to a place like Home Depot, they don’t give you nothin’.

What trees are the most popular?
The balsam fir—it’s the cheapest tree. The most expensive is the Fraser fir. People who can’t afford a seven-foot Fraser, which is, like, $65 to $70, you can pay $50 for [a balsam of] the same height.

How do you keep your prices relatively low?
A tree that I sell for $35, they sell for $65 two miles away. We’re not trying to make a killing. We’re just trying to put a smile on people’s face and make a couple dollars. It’s called Christmas spirit.

HIS HOLIDAY TIP To avoid buying an old tree, “Give it a good shake,” says Aracena. “If it’s nice and fresh, you won’t see many needles fall.”

Jay’s Christmas Trees is at Fourth Ave and 38th St, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (no phone). Trees from $20; open daily 10am–10pm, Fri 20–Tue 24 10am–midnight.

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)


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