HACKENSACK, N.J. — Donning dark-wash jeans and a baseball cap, Christmas tree vendor Kris McShane wraps his arms around a 6-foot tree at his outdoor Hackensack Avenue shop Thursday evening under cotton candy skies.
"This is how you hold a Christmas tree," he said, swinging it over his left shoulder before passing it off to Elijah, of Hackensack, to bring back to his family.
McShane, an outdoor guide from Upstate New York, has since 1996 been making the trip to TJK Landscaping's shop — located just behind the Steuben House in River Edge — to pursue a career he never thought he'd feel passionate about.
"I worked for a guy up in Maine leading canoe trips but when [the waters] froze he asked me if I wanted to sell Christmas trees down in New Jersey," McShane said. "I was like, 'no.'"
"But I was just out of college, didn't have a job and was living with my parents so I was like, let me go sell Christmas trees in New Jersey."
McShane has been coming back year after year with calloused hands and a smile on his face, eager to provide local families with the perfect tree.
The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. "rain or shine — every day until Christmas," he said. "Duh."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.