Helium shortage could impact graduation balloon orders

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 5:09 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The balloon industry is the latest to feel the impacts of ongoing supply chain issues.

A helium shortage raises concerns about Sioux Falls party supply stores’ ability to fill graduation balloon orders.

The lack of available helium has them scrambling to allocate for orders already on their books and making tough decisions about incoming orders.

This past November Ryan Egan made the jump from filling orders at home to opening his own storefront for Queen City Balloon Bar.

But, even with a new location, he gets to deal with the same old challenges of being a small business owner. This time around: it’s a lack of helium.

“We knew there was a shortage but I didn’t realize it was just abruptly going to be done,” Egan said.

He says the shortage comes in part because of the war in Ukraine. And, what’s available is reserved for the medical industry.

“So, there’s a domino effect going on, and the party store business gets last dibs, basically,” Egan said.

The news from his supplier came just last week, as Egan heads into his busiest time of the year: graduation season.

“It’s hard when people want to celebrate because we’re in the business of celebrations, and they’re looking for something specific, and I have to say we have to switch directions or this might not happen, that’s the most frustrating thing,” Egan said.

It’s a similar story at Party Land. But, Wednesday, store owner Gary Krekelberg got some unexpected good news.

“We just found out this morning that our distributor was able to find some helium,” Krekelberg said.

Gary says stocking the balloons themselves is actually their bigger issue.

“Even some basic colors, just haven’t been able to get them in months,” Krekelberg said.

Both shops say they expect to be able to fill all their current orders but are unsure about the future.

“At this point, we just don’t know what the helium supply looks like, and it’s kind of a day-to-day deal,” Egan said.

Krekelberg expects to have enough helium for the rest of the season but has been forced to turn away some orders.

“The season will come out alright, I think, but it has been kind of a struggle,” Krekelberg said.

Both Queen City Balloon Bar and Party Land recommend getting your order in early or considering alternative party favors, like air-filled balloon designs.

Air-filled balloons don’t use helium, so they obviously don’t float, but can be hung up, placed on a table, or in a corner. It’s just another type of balloon option.

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