Party supply business moves forward despite helium shortage

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Party supply business moves forward despite helium shortage

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CINCINNATI — Ordering helium has been a challenge for both the medical and party supply industry. That’s because there’s currently a nationwide shortage of the gas. 

For the past 78 years, Cappel’s has been a staple in Cincinnati, known for its wide selection of costume party supplies. 

“We specialize in hard-to-find items and what we do, we do year round,” said Cappel.

Owner Ray Cappel said balloons are one of the most popular items they sell. But selling them became a bit of a problem a year ago when they faced a helium shortage.

“Our suppliers were saying we can't fill your tanks anymore,” he said. “We have no helium whatsoever. And that really put us in a quandary.” 

Not only was there a shortage, but Cappel said the price nearly tripled. He quickly realized he wasn’t the only business with this problem. 

“The helium shortage was brought up at the trade shows from people all across the nation and a lot of stores like ours, bigger and smaller operations were still having issues with getting helium,” he said.

Left with few options, the Cappels came up with an alternative. They started filling the balloons with air. 

“They were attaching them to sticks so they would look like they were floating, anything to give the look of helium,” he said. “But it just really wasn’t the same.”

This went on until last November. After months of research, Cappel finally connected with a different of supplier who could help.

“A certain load may have been coming in from Pennsylvania or next week’s load was coming in from Illinois and as long as we brought them our tanks for filling, they would fill them and we would bring them back,” he said.

Cappel said he’s glad to have everything back to normal for him and is hopeful that it’ll stay that way for a while. 

Party supply business moves forward despite helium shortage

Fahrenheit Degree “We feel like we’ll be in a good situation with them in terms of them continuing to fill our tanks,” he said. “We’ve heard nothing to the contrary and we feel very optimistic moving forward.”