In the hood -- On-line only

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

My Neighborhoods pages were held from today's paper because Tim Novak broke big news broke on the Mayor Daley from — his son Patrick had a secret deal with City Hall. .

So rather than leave you cheated of your Friday neighborhood fix, I posted a tale about how to haggle for a Christmas tree, complete with a warning about tree salesmen and a map of every licensed seasonal tree lot in the city. If your tree lot isn't on the list, you might want to use that information to get a better deal on a tree.

There's also an excellent illustration by Sun-Times in-house artist Guillermo Munro, you just have to see.

So take a read, and post your Christmas shopping (for trees or otherwise) here. It will keep us in the holiday spirit.

See you in the paper next week.


Buying a real Christmas tree is a lot like shopping for a used car.

You wind up on a corner lot talking to some joker in a trailer who says he's willing to give you a really good deal on something that ultimately dies and gets left on the side of the road to be hauled away.

That's why South Side philosophers — savvy beer-swilling chislers who buy junk cars for sport — offer Christmas tree shoppers a holiday reminder: Only suckers pay sticker price.

That's my tree-shopping mantra.

Over the years, I’ve figured out how to get a nice tree for a bargain price. My best advice is to always shop for a tree when its raining, snowing or so cold you can't feel your toes.

Remember, those independent tree guys can be slick. They pretend there’s a formula for how much a tree should cost — their very own Kelly Blue Book for Christmas trees. They say slightly rumpled trees go for about $10 to $12 per foot. And premium ones marked pink ribbons will cost you a few bucks more per foot. But don’t listen to them. They’ve got wiggle room on those prices and they know it.

But be careful if you're going to haggle with a tree-guy — especially guys from the deep woods who are stuck for months in a trailer with no running water and a five-gallon bucket for a toilet. That kind of living would makes ‘em ornery.

A few years back, I stopped by a tree stand at Ashland and Catalpa, swung open the trailer's flimsy door and startled a burly fellow who appeared from a cloud of cigarette smoke with blood shot eyes. It was late and rainy and he looked exhausted. The perfect time to get a deal.

We went back and forth on prices until the guy agreed to let a $70 tree go for $55. Not bad, I thought. But I could do better.

While he sawed the stump, I headed to get cash. And, of course, to see if the tree guy across the street in the Jewel parking lot could beat the price.

I broke out my best South Side haggling techniques. "What are you some kinda sissy? Afraid to cut a deal? It’s now or never buddy.” It worked.

Just as he’s tying a 9-footer — an $80 tree for $55 bucks — atop my Ford, the guy from across the street spotted us and ran over.

"Looks like you got nice trees over here," the guy said in a really creepy voice. Then, he grabbed a chain saw and fired it up, which really freaked me out. I forked over the cash, sped away and didn't look back.

Now, I don't know what happened after that. But "Tree lot murder baffles cops" wasn’t a headline in the next day’s paper.

At home, I made sure everyone knew that my Fraser Fir — all wrapped in sparkling mini-lights, blue ribbon and loads of ornaments — was no sucker's Christmas tree. That will always put you in the holiday spirit.

Konkol note: Check out our map of every licensed Christmas Tree lot in Chicago.

If there’s a tree lot near you that’s not on the list, it’s probably not licensed, city officials said. Now, that’s news you could use to haggling for a better price. Or to drop a dime to city inspectors.

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: In the hood -- On-line only.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/5361

1 Comments

You look too clean-cut in the cartoon.

I never haggle because we have a secret place that charges much less than anyone else, and they always have a super-size tree, which is what I get. I figure they need a coupla suckers a year to keep from going out of business in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood -- which terrifies me to no end.

Leave a comment


Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mark Konkol published on December 14, 2007 9:19 AM.

Lincoln Square -- A letter to the editor was the previous entry in this blog.

Marquette Park's Johnny from the Block is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Pages