A balloon artist in Royton says a global shortage of helium has posed problems for the survival of her business – but is determined to keep creating spectacular masterpieces.
Nicola Depetrillo runs Balloon Inspirations Royton from her home after closing her shop, Sweet Inspirations, a few years ago.
However, it said a new global helium shortage caused by the closure of two major factories in the United States and Russia was having a huge impact on its business, with demand for helium far exceeding supply.
Ms Depetrillo said: “It had a huge impact on the balloon industry and caused helium costs to skyrocket, excuse the pun.
“As you can imagine, the party sector is low on the priority list for helium, as it is used in a much larger way, such as medical equipment – MRI scanners, scientific research, medical equipment. welding, etc.”
The balloon artist, who has been in the business for more than a decade, said it was not the first time she had experienced a helium shortage, having faced the problem at least three times since 2006.
But she said the shortage of stock was now having a ripple effect on her supplier who had “virtually doubled” the price, forcing her to abandon helium altogether.
Her helium balloon clusters have always been around the £5 mark but due to rising costs she has had to raise the price to around £10 while others charge up to £12.
However, Ms Depetrillo said she was undeterred by hindsight and coming up with new balloon masterpieces that didn’t need helium.
She explained: “There’s so much more to balloons than filling them with helium – the possibilities are endless.
“I have a creative spirit that never ends and I’m constantly on the lookout for new designs.
“There’s already been a big increase in customers buying their own kits online to cut costs, so as a balloon artist I have to create something that you literally can’t buy off the shelf. .
“But it’s a worry – I’ve seen more and more people in the industry closing their businesses.”
Balloon Inspirations Royton now uses air to bring balloons to life, which the company owner says is actually much better.
“Air-filled balloons also last a lot longer than helium, so in the long run they have better value for money.
“But it’s about educating the customer – some don’t realize that helium is extracted natural gas.
“Some people want to know why it’s not floating in the air,” she added.