Nationwide helium shortage affecting local businesses

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Updated: 9/09/2012 10:06 pm
To some, the nationwide helium shortage may just mean a few less balloons at the next birthday celebration, but not for the businesses that rely on the resource to keep from deflating.

Robby Bunch, owner of Balloons by the Bunch, said the shortage has resulted in retail shops becoming less of a priority.

"First you've got the government, with the military that uses the helium, and then you've got hospitals and stuff that cool the MRI's and things like that," Bunch said. "Then, it trickles down to the retail, the person that blows up the balloons."

He said his business is no different.

"I can remember when I first started out and a large bottle of helium that would blow up like 500 balloons was like $40," Bunch said. " Now for the large bottle, I am paying close to $200."

Bunch said he has had to make some changes to compensate for the shortage.

"I actually stopped donating helium balloons to non-profit organizations just because I can't afford it," Bunch said. "I have really cut down on my rental tanks. I have got to satisfy my customers before I can rent it out to somebody else and stuff like that."

Some businesses are finding other ways to adjust.

"We will change the way we inflate balloons, going from an 80/20 helium proportion to a 60/40 which, for some balloons, won't float quite as long," Said Alan Hill, owner of Party Plus Warehouse.

Adjustments aside, Hill said he is not panicking just yet.

"We have done it for 30 years, we've got good rapport with our vendors," Hill said. "I don't see any short-term catastrophe by any means."

Bunch said owning a businesses based around balloons does make him anxious about the shortage, but said he too remains hopeful about his company's future.
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