Driving around, you might have noticed the lights aren't as big and bright deep in the heart of Houston. When Hair Balls went out house hunting for our Christmas Lights slideshow, it was slim pickings. On average, there were only about three or four houses per block lit up in a yuletide fashion. And most didn't go as grand as they had in the past.
"Definitely, this year, people spent less money on Christmas lights than last year - I can guarantee you that," Light-Tech Inc. owner Tony Moghaddam tells Hair Balls. "We did less and we are thankful for it."
Thankful? Moghaddam says a certain tropical storm caused enough damage to be a holiday humbug.
"Hurricane Ike had us so busy - we are also licensed electricians, we do specialty lighting - after Hurricane Ike we were doing a lot of emergency calls and doing landscape lighting and tree lighting and things like that," he says and adds with all the Ike repair, his business was too booked to even take some holiday orders.
Light-Tech has an end-of-August deadline for Christmas requests, but Moghaddam says this year, even before August, there were fewer calls coming in.
"I remember last year we had literally about 60 to 70 calls per day for Christmas lights. The average has dropped down by probably 80 percent," he says.
The folks that did ask Light-Tech Inc. to deck their outdoors racked up smaller bills than previous years.
"The houses we did install ... some clients wanted to do minimum instead of going overboard," Moghaddam says.
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Other companies seem to be fairing a little better. Tom Oviatt of The Perfect Light says all of his repeat customers (known as "re-ups" in the biz) returned.
"But the new business was down about 25 percent," he says.
Hair Balls is out there looking though. We recently added our first slideshow with shots taken from Rice Village, River Oaks and Boulevard Oaks. We'll have some more in the coming days so check back to see the highlights of the hard-to-find lights.
-- Dusti Rhodes