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December 18, 2007

Molly in Manhattan [58]

Molly_nyc6 Molly Hatfield's Vermont family has been selling Christmas trees in New York City for over 30 years.  Every December Gopher Broke Enterprises of Wolcott, Vermont sell trees at 13 locations across New York.

You can find Molly every day at the corner of 110th Street and Broadway where she has been selling trees for 14 years with two brief breaks to nurse her children.  Bring her a cup of tea, stop and say hello, everyone else does.

Molly works 14-16 hour days, every single day of the month of December.  She works outside despite the snow, freezing rain and slush.  She has never seen the tree at Rockefeller Center (which is not from VT, FYI) or taken in the tourist attractions New York has to offer.  After 14 years, she is less of a tourist and more a member of the community.

Molly_nyc14 Molly is known as "The Tree Lady" to many people in the neighborhood and has become a permanent fixture on the Upper West Side every holiday season.  Even people who are not buying trees stop by to check in, say hello, deliver a fresh batch of rum balls or ask after her kids.

Molly does not plan on leaving VT anytime soon but she can't seem to give up her life in NY either.  After all, what would happen to the Upper West Side at Christmas if The Tree Lady didn't show up?  And how would The Tree Lady survive not knowing the city gossip?

Tune by Colin Clary off his awesome new album Apocalypse Yow!, "Gold Medal."

You can watch this video on YouTube here.

Editor's Note: I should also mention that Molly and I were best friends at Lamoille Union High School many years ago.  We went to see David Bowie together during his Glass Spider Tour and it seemed only fitting that we would meet up again on the streets of Manhattan.

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Comments

sachie and Goma

Ohh!! This is why you went to NY! I love your coat by the way, you kind of look like Goma!! lol. It's really great story! Nice to know what other vermonters are doing in the city!! Those trees look so good by the way!! better than Goma's small tree for sure...

J.S.

Me and my co-worker were robbed by these tree salesman at Gopher Broke Enterprises.

They are a sham, they hire two people for each location, who have to travel to NYC, work 12hr. shifts, 7days/wk, for 30 days straight, and sleep 12 to a 3 br......for pay that is far below the minimum FEDERAL wage. They promised $4000 for me and $2000 for my co-worker.

They left my co-worker on the streets after coming down there and was working for only 9 days, and paid him 50.00 per day! He is still struggling there!!!

They then fired me off after 22 days, after I had made them $13000 in sales. They left me even worse off...with $100 of "F.You Pay" as they called it. They retaliated by saying that I would be charged with criminal embezzlement, if I ever reported this.

Apparently they fired off a couple of other contracted employees before they were able to make it to pay day at the end as well.

Because of my report, the Federal Wage and Claims Board is looking into these unclaimed wages, and their licenses are going to be seriously reviewed for tax fraud and violations of Federal and State Labor Laws.......you just did an article talking about this serious labor issue in the recent months so I thought I would ad my insight.

Don't get suckered by their sham every Christmas from internet ads.....poor pay, slave labor conditions, and they make you "mule" your daily sales (over $500-1500+ by foot through the worst hoods in Manhattan.........to a location that has bats and clubs at every door and bedside, because the apt. might get raided by their "old mafia enforcer enemies" who they don't pay their protection money to anymore. They are a cash in hand hustle, robbing their sales crews after they slaved to sell trees at 3-4x's what they pay for them, exploiting consumers. Their business practices are second rate at best when it comes to planning/logistics and employee safety and security.

So don't "Go-for Broke" this Christmas!!!!

James Simpson
Pedal Power Bike Taxi

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