TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Danita Miller says she’s probably blown up 25,000 balloons.
“I’m a helium person,” Miller said. “It brings a party to life because they’re colorful, they move...everybody feels in a festive mood.”
She should know. The party supply veteran’s East Speedway store, Party Carousel, has been making Southern Arizona parties pop for 42 years.
But a serious helium shortage is deflating the industry and inflating prices for party stores and their customers.
“We’re right smack in the middle of it. We don’t know when it’s going to end," said Miller. "So, you have to be very careful.”
Careful - to conserve.
Helium is a non-renewable element only the sun can make. It’s used for life-saving MRI scans and even high speed internet.
So how do you save helium - and your wallet - and still throw a pumped-up party? Miller suggests getting creative, with popular new features, such as a photo booth.
"Instead of a whole big arch, you could have a column on each side and a metallic curtain background and take your picture,” Miller said.
Or, choose more colorful tissue flowers, metallic sprays, mini pinata centerpieces, or larger balloons that make a statement, without using as much helium.
Miller told us, this is not the first shortage - but it may be the worst. She says it’s happened at least three other times in her 42 years in the party industry. Still, she’s always willing to float some ideas to help her loyal customers save.