Elizabeth Benson, right, sniffs a Christmas tree she bought with her sister Kathryn from Rory Gilmartin,12, left, from Kenai, Alaska, as he wraps the tree at the family’s sidewalk business on 9th Avenue and 22nd Street, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in New York. Each holiday season stands of Christmas trees from Vermont, Canada and North Carolina are sold license-free thanks to a nearly century-old ordinance that affords “coniferous tree” vendors a rare exemption to expensive licensing requirements. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s sidewalk vendors sometimes spend a fortune to acquire one of the hard-to-get permits that allow them to sell things on the street.
But once a year, there’s an exception, laid out in an artfully worded city ordinance: In December, anyone may sell “coniferous trees” just about anywhere — no license required.
It’s a rare free-for-all, and Christmas tree peddlers flock in from across North America to take advantage.
Many of the city’s stands are manned by hardy entrepreneurs like Tom Gilmartin.
Long hours don’t bother him. He’s a 62-year-old commercial fishing captain from Alaska.
New York eased its regulations for selling Christmas trees on the street in response to a 1938 crackdown on street vendors by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.
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