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Helium shortage hurts local businesses
As you head out to grab your bouquet of balloons for Valentines Day they may be a chance you won't get them. It turns out there's a nationwide helium shortage and retailers can't sell any balloons.
Local retailers have been affected. Some more than others. Most haven't been able to sell balloons since last summer, a few this fall.
Some experts suggest there's no end in sight for the shortage.
Love is in the air, husbands and boyfriends are lined up. But, there may not be enough air in balloons to show for it.
"We've had a lot of customers call for balloons and we haven't been able to sell it to them," said Kylee Leitschuck, Brenda and Company Floral.
Valentine's Day, the most popular holiday, is one day away. But a national helium crisis has stifled business for retailers like Brenda and Company Floral.
"We did have a friend pick up a few small party balloon helium tanks for us from Colorado and so that helped get us by a little bit longer," said Leitschuck.
Helium is a by product of natural gas wells. The problem is, not enough gas is being released and captured.
Now the company is trying to find ways to make up for less than thin air.
"We bought the per inflated balloons from our wholesalers, they're just on a stick and we can poke them into the arrangements," Leitschuck said.
"From a business perspective it hurts us," said Bob Sass Flowers co-owner Dave Hamburger.
Bob Sass Flowers of Hastings lucked out. They got a call a week ago saying they'd get their helium tank. Although, the severe reduction peaked their costs.
"We are paying about two and half times more for the price of helium than what we were when we first last got our helium," said Hamburger.
Geology studies show over the next year production rates will continue to decline. Some experts speculate the shortage is due to the misuse of natural gas resources.
Meanwhile, florists remain in limbo.
"We don't know if we're going to be getting helium on a monthly basis or if this is just something we're going to have now and it's going to be two months - we just have no idea," said Hamburger.
The helium also stretched to Husker athletics. They used to have a balloon release after the first score, but they had to scale back on that.
Helium is also essential to hospital facilities. MRI machines need a sufficient amount to provide efficient patient care.
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