Retailers aren't the only commercial enterprises basking in the glow of the holiday season. It's also prime time for professional Christmas lighting installers.
"We start doing residential about the first of October," said Ryan Brand, co-owner of Christmas Lights Professionals. "It's beneficial for us to get a head start on the season."
Brand also says his company offers substantial discounts to customers who get started earlier. "They're just putting them up to have them ready and then turn them on in November, " he explained.
Across the Salt Lake Valley, businesses and an increasing number of homeowners are turning to professionals to make sure their homes or businesses look festive.
Christie Swartz, co-owner of Quality Christmas Lighting, said she has seen more people choosing to have their lights installed professionally at a cost of between $1 and $2 per foot because it saves time during the busy holiday season. She said many customers would also rather not risk the danger of climbing onto a ladder in cold weather.
Swartz estimated her average residential customer pays about $300 to have their lighting installed and then taken down after the holidays. Brand said the cost for larger commercial customers can run in excess of $15,000.
He also noted that the design of today's modern homes makes putting up Christmas lights a risky proposition for many not comfortable with the idea of being perched on the eaves of today's steeply pitched roofs.
"These newer, nicer homes aren't like the homes of the '50's or '60's. (They're not a) ranch style rambler with a flat roof," Brand said. "These newer homes have all the high peaks and gables."
"We come in with our experience and do it the very best (and safest) possible way," Brand said.
Brand, who's been in the lighting business for nearly 20 years, said his company will do more than a thousand projects this season, with the majority of them residences.
Swartz, who with her husband started their business eight years ago, currently does about 200 projects annually, with residential customers also making up the bulk of their business.
For all the elaborate lighting options being displayed on homes and buildings throughout the valley, Swartz and Brand said clear white lights are by far the most popular choice among their customers.
Swartz said most people seem to prefer the clean, crisp look of traditional clear lighting, with color added depending upon taste. She noted customers often seek to re-create the fond memories of childhood with their displays and a little of their own flair added in.
Despite the popularity of elaborate displays, including inflatable Santas, glowing reindeer and Nativity scenes, neither Brand or Swartz carry those items.
Brand said he shies away from them, although he will install them for an added cost when requested. Still, he said, most customers tend to install those displays themselves.
Brand said he does have a couple of longtime customers who insist on his help pulling good-natured pranks on each other, however.
"Every year they hire me to do something funny," he said. "They have a snowman on skis they pass back and forth that I attach to their roof. This year (the one friend) said I want you to put it on my roof and bill my neighbor."
Gags aside, Brand says the main reasons people are choosing to pay for holiday light installation is simplicity during one of the most complicated family times of the year.
"You tell us what you want, and we'll take care of the rest," he said. "We'll provide the lights for you, we'll put them up, guarantee them through the holidays and take them down in January."For more and more people, that peace of mind is definitely worth the price.
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