Helium shortage leaving local business' future up in the air

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Sherman, Tex. (KXII) -- GasWorld.Com, an industry publication, says the reason for the helium shortage is that 75 percent of all the helium in the world comes from three places and right now, those sites aren't producing what they need to meet consumer demands.

Some medical devices also use helium and they say that's going to take priority over balloons while the supply is short and that's affecting people right here in Texoma.

"To me it's happiness and fun and let's have a good time. And the kids love them," said Cherilyn Flood as she was picking up balloons for a party with family Monday night.

But for local business Wally's Party Factory, the festivities may be short lived.

"Right now, it's not looking too good," said Samantha Palmer, a Party Sales Associate at Wally's Party Factory.

A shrinking supply and high demand of helium means prices are rising across the country, making it harder to find a store with the right supplies.

"Everyone thinks of party they think of balloons," said Flood.

Palmer says their prices haven't increased yet but they have had to turn more people away recently.

"It's just hard explaining to them, thinking it's just a joke or something when it's really a natural resource we don't have anymore," said Palmer.

Since Wally's is locally-owned, Palmer says when they have the helium, they fill balloons and when they don't they can't.

They play by different rules than some other nationwide chain party stores.

"They don't have a supplier. They're running out. they haven't found their local resources so you're limited to six balloons," said Palmer.

Flood has been coming to Wally's for several years and worries about the impact of the shortage here at home.

"It will have a great impact on how much business they do because I know here at Wally's, I think of all the balloons we've bought and all the decorations with the arches and parties for baby showers, birthdays, graduation. I think it would greatly impact their income," said Flood.

Palmer is worried the repercussions could eventually cost her a job.

"Usually the prices are going to go up on your average day stuff and then we'd lose business because you can go find it at your regular general store and then people lose jobs," said Palmer.

So if you are planning on ordering balloons for an upcoming event like a graduation or birthday party, the people at Wally's gave us a few tips.

They say be sure to always call ahead and check if there is helium there and pick out what balloons you'll want in advance, so they can plan on how much helium it takes to fill your order.

They say if all else fails, you can always order balloon centerpieces or arches because those look just as great without helium.