Hot Fun in the Summertime.
Summer conjures up images of grabbing breakfast at the Rose Cafe in Venice without a sweater, strolling the shops in Malibu's Cross Creek Road in your Rafe Striped Espadrilles, snagging a Dominique Duval Gardenia Barrette at Fred Segal Beauty in Santa Monica and enjoying the airy labyrinth of Southern California Freeways in between.
But summer doesn't make you think of organizing your Christmas or Hanukkah decorations.
But for a Professional Organizer, it does.
Summer for a smart Client, is a great time to pull all your Holiday deco out, make the necessary decisions on what to keep, what to purge and get guidance in order to make smart choices on the very best storage options. Not surprising, many clients we see store their precious Christopher Radko ornaments in garbage bags. We can change that.
Last December, John Trosko and OrganizingLA were interviewed by David Haldane and the Los Angeles Times for an interesting trend among Southern Californians: outsourcing their Holiday tasks. Help is on the way...
David Haldane. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Dec 18, 2004. pg. B.6
Full Text (845 words)
There was a time when Art Willis wouldn't have thought twice about scrambling up a ladder to hang Christmas lights.
Come November with the holiday approaching and his wife getting antsy, Willis would routinely perform the manly ritual of stringing the roof with lights. "I did it for years," the Brea resident said.
Not anymore. Today, Willis, 63, hires a stand-in: Dave Lancaster, a 35-year-old former pool attendant who markets himself as "Dave the X-mas Light Guy" and spends 12 hours a day installing other people's lights.
"I don't miss the job," said Willis, a manager at a major aerospace corporation. "I enjoy watching him do it, though. As I grew older, I just didn't feel like climbing ladders anymore."
Willis is among a growing number of Americans who are part of a new -- and sometimes expensive -- trend: outsourcing holiday tasks. Whether it's shopping for Christmas gifts, wrapping them, planning holiday parties, feeding the guests, decorating the Christmas tree or later taking down and boxing the decorations, it seems that someone these days will do it -- for a price.
"The holidays are a disaster for most Americans," said John Trosko, owner of a 2-year-old West Hollywood-based business called OrganizingLA.
Working with professional designers who decorate home Christmas trees in Orange and Los Angeles counties, Trosko charges homeowners $70 an hour to take the decorations down.
"People don't want to take them down themselves," he said, "so we do it for them and make sure that everything is stored and labeled so they can find it the next year."
The main beneficiaries of that last service, says Trosko, are the untold number of Americans deluged by clutter, especially during the holidays when "people's houses are so full of stuff to start with, and they just bring in more."
The reasons vary for the hire-somebody-else-to-do-it trend, which has been growing for years. Increasingly, two-career families have less time to spare. Women, traditionally the holiday organizers, spend less and less time at home. And aging baby boomers often find expendable income easier to come by than energy.
It was for all of those reasons, in fact, that Kevin Boyd, 35, started his San Diego-based company -- the Christmas Light Pros -- this year. "People either don't want to get up on a ladder to do the work or they don't have one that's tall enough," he said. "I would say the biggest reason people hire us is that they're too busy to do it themselves."
Boyd, who offered the same service privately for years before starting the company, strings lights to the tune of $200 to $15,000 per job. That big one, he said, involved creating a 25-by-15-foot American flag from Christmas lights hung between two Canary Island palm trees in the backyard of a Rancho Santa Fe mansion -- a task that took him and a crew a week to complete.
Smaller jobs, Boyd says, can be done in half an hour.
Boyd expects to decorate about 200 Southern California homes this holiday season, which is just about all he can handle. Business is so good, in fact, that he's started licensing the concept and, so far, has eight takers in three states.
We've been absolutely overwhelmed," he said, adding that he has been working six 11-hour days a week since late October.
Lancaster, whose jobs are primarily in Orange County, said he works even longer days. "When I started out, I didn't know of anyone else doing it," says the Rancho Cucamonga resident, who was inspired more than a decade ago by watching a neighbor hang Christmas lights. "I put an ad in the paper just to see what would happen, and my message machine was full."
One customer who has left a message annually almost from the beginning is Linda Beck, 51, a busy executive who lives with her business-owner husband, John, in the Eagle Hills section of Brea -- an area familiar to Christmas light sightseers. "This is the neighborhood everyone drives through to see the lights," Linda Beck said. "You feel ostracized by your neighbors if you don't have good lights."
During their first Christmas in the 2,800-square-foot house, she said, the couple put up "just a few lights" that turned out to be "the skimpiest in the neighborhood." The next year they hired Lancaster and his crew to do a better job.
We just don't have the time," Beck said. "If we were younger and had children, we would make the time, but we both have demanding careers."
And, oh yes. At 55, "it's harder for John to get up a ladder," she said.
Caption: PHOTO: UP ON THE ROOF: Lancaster brightens a home in Placentia. He works 12 hours a day installing lights.; PHOTOGRAPHER: Photographs by Mark Boster Los Angeles Times; PHOTO: Dave the X-mas Light Guy" Lancaster.; PHOTO: (OC)MAESTRO: Dave Lancaster lights up a house. "I don't miss the job," says Art Willis of Brea. "I enjoy watching him do it, though." PHOTOGRAPHER: Mark Boster Los Angeles Times
Credit: Times Staff Writer