Could balloons being going the way of the dinosaur? If they're filled with helium, it's possible.
For the last five years, there's been growing helium shortage because, like gasoline, it's finite and irreplaceable. Helium can't be harvested from the air; it must be extracted during effort to pump natural gas or it floats away. Currently, only about 15 plants worldwide can do that.
Balloon vendors like Steve Rostratter, owner of Sacramento Balloon Company, have seen helium prices rapidly inflate over the past five years.
"500 to 1,000 percent increase," said Rostratter. "More than ridiculous."
Still, he's tried to keep costs down for customers.
"The helium tank I'm renting for $135 in the (San Francisco) Bay Area is $290," said Rostratter.
Rostratter added the reason for the rise is very similar to the spike in gas prices.
"The federal government, just like any other gas product, they're in charge of pricing and distribution of helium," Rostratter explained.
The price going up means Rostratter has gotten creative with his balloon displays.
"We're doing things with fresh air versus helium," he said, "Doing columns, things that hang, do draping instead of arches. Something that's affordable for the customers."
Even though that means profits are slightly deflated, Rostratter is OK with that.
"My supplier told me I need to raise my prices," he said, "I don't want to raise my prices, because I want my customers to have fun and have balloons at their parties."
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