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Party Opinion: The resilience of the humble toy balloon

Mark Brett is the UK agent for both Boland Party and ITI (UK) and has years of party industry experience under his belt. In his latest blog, Mark ponders the resilience of the humble toy balloon.

“Travel back a long way, to a time when Mylar (foil) balloons did not exist, before balloon decorating started, pre huge colour ranges and multiple sizes, to a time when the humble toy balloon was considered thus – just a toy.

I was brought up with them. I was surrounded by them – not literally as I rarely saw one in my youth, almost certainly never in the house – but metaphorically. My parents lived and died latex balloons. Sounds quite odd and dark, but it is a lot simpler than that. They were involved in the manufacturing and selling of toy balloons. They was ‘wat put bread on plate, wood in fire and roof over ‘ead’ – as Dickens may have said but didn’t, unless he spent a lot of time in Yorkshire and didn’t tell anyone.

Even before working in the business I was often taken to trade fairs and participated in the Nuremberg Toy Fair before I left school. I have experienced many economic cycles and unfortunate events that would have otherwise destroyed the market for lesser products.

During the oil crisis in the mid-70s in the UK, there was a three-day working week but I can very clearly remember everyone doubling their orders. During massive inflation, when our prices increased by over 20%, customers continued to place even larger orders. During even this latest crisis, enthusiasm has not been dampened – in fact, it would not be out of order to add balloons to the list of essentials, along with toilet rolls, pasta, bicycles and puppies. Once again latex balloons have defied all expectations.

So what is the allure of this simple object? It is not without its opponents. Over the years it has had confrontations with the farming lobby and environmentalists. Even today many think that latex balloons are made of plastic.

There are few that would walk into a room full of balloons and not raise a smile – and yes, after a short while begin to play with them. Maybe because they float or have a life of their own they subconsciously imbue a feeling hope, happiness and maybe even a touch of freedom.

I have a sneaky feeling this is a peculiarly UK and North America thing. I am not sure this has translated to such a degree into mainland Europe, though I don’t see why it won’t. Balloonwise, we are ahead of the game.

A customer of mine said he saw this coming sometime ago but suspected it would take another couple years to go mainstream. In his opinion, Covid-19 has only hastened the timeline.”

This truncated article was taken from a blog post on Mark’s personal website which can be read in full here.

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