Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Balloon Closet

I stopped by to visit Kelly Williams, the owner of The Balloon Closet, and came away with a new found appreciation for that timeless classic- the balloon. Kelly's enthusiasm for his work is infectious, and his face was alight with glee as he showed me all of the creative wonders that his company can accomplish. What began as a fundraiser at JBU is now a "happy occupation," according to Kelly.
"How could it not be?" I wondered aloud as he batted an enormous red three foot balloon around the shop.

While we visited, Kelly and employee Coleen Huebert assembled a giant balloon cube in minutes for a child's first communion celebration. Customers can purchase larger decorative balloon sculptures like the giant cube, or even single helium-filled balloons in a wide variety of colors and patterns for as little as $1.50. Balloon bouquets start at $7.50.

The most popular item, the signature spiral (a standing balloon sculpture), sells for $24 and has a three month "float time." Kelly originates some of the more advanced designs he sells, and he also attends balloon conferences and shares ideas with other professionals. Clearly, it's a business that knows no creative limitations. The biggest hazard I can see in this line of work is the untimely end every balloon must experience- the loud "pop!" Kelly and Coleen assure me that they are pretty desensitized at this point.

I learned that all balloons sold by the Balloon Closet are 100% biodegradable and made from rubber tree sap. Kelly demonstrated how a released balloon will pop once it reaches 30,000 feet. It actually comes apart in shreds and the shreds are scattered over several miles. There is no documented case of an animal or human being harmed by this process.

Kelly purchases balloons from three different companies. One of them, Rifco, is based in Italy. Another company, Tilly Balloons of New Hampshire, produces hand painted balloons and the owners are third generation, their grandfather being the inventor of the latex balloon. Isn't that cool?
We also talked about the spectacular Balloon Closet presentation in the 2008 Christmas Parade. For those of you who missed it, there were around forty Balloon Closet customers decked out in wildly elaborate balloon costumes, with long, tentacle-like balloons protruding from their backs. It was quite a sight! Kelly says he plans to be a part of the parade again this year.

As I left the shop, with my adorable orange and yellow floating fish balloon, I was reminded of an episode of "Seinfeld." Kramer brings some really fun striped and polka dotted balloons to Jerry's house. He says, "Those aren't for New Year's, those are my everyday balloons." I remember thinking, "Those are so neat looking! Where can you buy balloons like that?" Well, last year, on my first visit to The Balloon Closet, I saw that they sell those exact balloons- and I happily purchased some. So, make sure to visit the Balloon Closet soon and get yourself some everyday balloons... or party balloons... or wedding balloons... or "get well" balloons... the list is endless.

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