Forget groceries. The next FreshDirect model is Christmas trees
From groceries to laundry detergent to prescription drugs, seemingly anything can be delivered to your front door.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that a pair of New York-based entrepreneurs using a FreshDirect-business model for Christmas trees is now expanding.
You can dispense with schlepping to a tree lot and arriving home exhausted only to wrangle with a wobbly tree stand and crooked skirt. Tyler's Trees' staff—or "elves," as they call themselves—will do it all for a flat fee, starting at $139 for a 5-footer. The price includes delivery, installation, and a stand and skirt.
"We make sure it's perfect on the center line, put it into fresh water, and it's ready to go," said co-founder Tyler Kupper. "All you have to do is put lights on and ornaments, and you're done."
And if you'd rather not untangle lights and fuss with glass ornaments, decoration services start at $129.
"We employ a professional decorator who has experience doing storefronts," said Tyler's Trees' other co-founder, Brian Millman. The personalized trimming services are sold out for this holiday season, though.
More people are using such on-demand Christmas tree services. Home Depot recently partnered with technology software company Uber to let customers order trees using an Uber smartphone app. Trees were delivered earlier this month on a limited basis.
Kupper and Millman launched Tyler's Trees in 2008 and plan to expand into other cities next year, including Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
The duo struck on their business idea five years ago as they watched an older woman drag a tree across West 57th Street in upper Manhattan.
"Everything is delivered, so why not have Christmas trees delivered through an easy, simple website?" Kupper said.
Every year, the co-founders handpick about 1,000 Fraser Firs from a third-generation tree grower in North Carolina. The inventory is stored locally before delivery.
Tyler's Trees delivers throughout New York except Staten Island and has donated trees throughout the region, including in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. The co-founders recently donated trees to Brooklyn public schools.
"Some kids had never seen a real Christmas tree before," Kupper said.
Overall, he said, their customer base skews slightly more female than male. The small business, which has grown to 12 employees, has also added services, such as tree removal starting at $50.
(Read more: 10 cool 'made in USA' gifts)
Nancy Rosenthal, a school nurse in Brooklyn, is using Tyler's Trees for the fourth year this holiday. When her children were younger, she said, the annual tree acquisition was a daylong ritual involving trekking up and down a local mountain.
"My husband would put 3,000 lights in the tree," she said.
Now, with her kids grown, Rosenthal has Tyler's Trees deliver a 9- to 10-foot tree and set it up for her.
"You order it in advance," she said. "It's so convenient."