Helium shortage could impact graduation balloon orders

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) — The balloon industry is the latest to feel the impacts of ongoing supply chain issues.

A helium shortage is raising concerns about the ability of Sioux Falls party supply stores to fill orders for graduation balloons.

The lack of available helium forces them to scramble to allocate orders already on their books and to make tough decisions about incoming orders.

Last November, Ryan Egan went from fulfilling home orders to opening his own storefront for the Queen City Balloon Bar.

But, even with a new location, he faces the same old challenges of owning a small business. This time: it’s a lack of helium.

“We knew there was a shortage, but I didn’t know it was going to come suddenly,” Egan said.

He says the shortage is partly due to the war in Ukraine. And, what is available is reserved for the medical industry.

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

News from his supplier came 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 celebration business and they’re looking for something specific, and I have to say we have to change direction or it might not happen, that’s the most frustrating thing,” Egan says.

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

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

Gary says storing the balloons themselves is actually their biggest problem.

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

Both stores say they expect to be able to fill all of 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 sort of a day-to-day affair,” Egan said.

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

“The season will go well, I think, but it’s been kind of a struggle,” Krekelberg said.

Queen City Balloon Bar and Party Land recommend placing your order early or considering other party favors, like air-filled balloon designs.

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

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