Oy tannenbaum! Montague St Christmas tree vendors face off in turf war

Seeing red and green: Romp Family Christmas Trees’ Ellie Romp, left, and Adam Parke Trees employee Dylan Peterson. The two lots are battling for business on Montague Street.
Photos by Jason Speakman

The firs were flying!

A turf war between two rival Brooklyn Heights Christmas tree vendors reached boiling point on Wednesday night when one of the sellers angrily accused the other of sap-otage in front of holiday shoppers — and witnesses say the sight killed their holiday spirit.

“It is outrageous that this is going on during this time of the year,” said Brooklyn Heights citizen Jeffrey Smith. “How can anything like this be going on at Christmas?”

The story is a classic case of he-said, tree-said.

One long-time Montague Street vendor claims an upstart has muscled in on his territory, and is trash-talking his trees — telling passersby that they are infested with vermin.

“They came in and kind of pushed their way into the area,” said Adam Parke, who has been running his eight stands around the borough for 26 years, including one at the corner of Montague and Clinton streets, outside St. Ann’s Church. “They’ve been telling people that our trees have rodents in them.”

But the newer pine peddler claims that simply isn’t true, and there is plenty of business to go around.

“I couldn’t get enough trees and sell enough trees to everyone in the whole neighborhood,” said Ellie Bishop, who took over the six-year-old Romp Family Christmas Trees stand at Hicks Street in front of Key Foods after her mom passed away last year. “There’s no way being here hurts their business”

The needling erupted on Wednesday evening, when Parke’s crew confronted Bishop, demanding she stop tarnishing their trees.

Parke has since apologized and the two have made up, Bishop said, but she still disputes the claim that she ever slandered his saplings — and says she in fact often redirects people to her rival’s lot when she doesn’t have quite the right tree for a customer.

Bishop, who hails from Vermont but ships in stock from North Carolina, says she sells her trees for about $80 to $90, depending on height, and does a steady business between Thanksgiving and Christmas at her 24-hour stand.

Parke grows all of his trees in Vermont and boasts “the best organic, chemical-free Christmas trees in the northeast,” on his website. He charges $10 a foot and said he is so busy some weekends that he can’t keep up.

Now the pair have settled their differences, both parties say they’re willing to call a truce on their spruces.

“We have competition from all different directions and we don’t mind it — it is what it is,” said Parke’s son Galen.

Out in the field, Christmas trees are often plagued by rodents called voles, which feed on the bark, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. One local pest-control worker said he’d never heard of a rodent-infested Christmas tree in the city, but that it could happen.

“It’s possible,” said Angel Maleve of Empire Pest Control on Court Street. “They’ll try to find shelter in anything.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.

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