WEST SALEM, WISCONSIN (WXOW)—For some people a birthday party or other celebration just isn't the same without balloons, but soon, they might be difficult to get, or at least to fill, because of an international helium shortage.
"About eight or nine months ago our supplier had said there was going to be a helium shortage, but it really came to a head about a month ago we were out of helium, I called our supplier and he said he could not give us anymore helium," said Clair Bissen, who owns Family Tree Floral & Greenhouse in West Salem.
Bissen says he's talked to other business owners who have the same problem, and those who can get helium are paying nearly double what they paid a year ago.
Bissen's helium supplier, Airgas, would not comment on camera, but did give a WXOW a letter they sent to customers.
It reads in part: "Under current Law, only four companies have ready access to the taxpayer owned helium in the Reserve, and current market conditions make it more favorable for these companies to sell helium overseas."
Airgas is not one of the four companies with access to the reserve.
"Well it leaves us in a position where we can't provide the service," Bissen said. "The other problem, we have inventory in the back room of balloons and we're not going to be able to sell them because we have nothing to fill them with."
Meanwhile, Bissen says the shortage means some customers are taking all their business elsewhere.
"We've had a couple of parties that wanted combinations of balloons and flowers and they decide to go elsewhere to try and fill their needs," Bissen said.
Bissen says there isn't a solution for the shortage in the near future, and businesses, like his, have to adjust.
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