if the economy and building trade is slow for the next few years, you will see more upper class folks by-passing Christmas light folks and doing exactly this. I would expect to see more roofers, framers, carpenters, painters, and other guys that did general construction work offer themselves to homeowners for Christmas lights for 20-25 bucks per hour. the customer buys the lights and then the guys go to work. I did a home in a very exclusive community a week or so back and this was the case. They hired me to do all 4 sides of the home with c-9's, and we had 4 outlets put in and did an awesome job. 6 foot wreath at the peak/entry. but while we were there, some folks were putting out mini-lights in the large shrubs and trees. They were putting out tens of thousands of them. and when they were done it looked amazing. On 10-12 foot holley trees that I would have put 1500 or so, they were easily double and triple that. These folks obviously were working by the hour, taking thier time and may have even been employees of this particular person. They knew what they were doing. I am guessing they put out 20,000 lights or so, and it took 3 guys 2 days to do it. probably at a cost of 12-20 per man per hour. so lets say 1000 in labor and maybe 500 in lights and cords. had I duplicated that effect, I would have charged 5500 or so. Why in the world would a wealthy homeowner pay me 27.50 per 100 strand of mini lights when they could get the same effect for 1/3-1/4 the cost or less? I think the future of this business is to offer products that the construction folks are not going to have. When I show up with a 9 foot strand of noble mixed garland on the bid, and they see the 4 foot wreath I bring, wealthy folks get me. I bring a few feet of white spt-2 c-9 cord AND 20 guage walmart cord and show them the difference in insulation thickness and wire. I have a blizzard light link in my hand when I ring the door bell, and have the wreath and garland set out on the front porch beside me. the c-9 cords are in my jacket pocket. I have testimonials in my bid packet from folks who live in thier neighborhood. They say things like, "Dave is expensive but worth it", " David has been my light guy for 7 years now" etc. If I can get in front of folks for 30 minutes they will KNOW I am the guy they want. they may not hire me because of price, but they will always know they did not hire the best. the customers I want are the ones that want the best and are willing to pay for it. i honestly cannot see a future in this business doing it any other way. In Lean times, it will be the wealthy folks who still have money. In good times, they have more. trying to hang with the lowballers in an exercise towards bankrupcy.