INDIANAPOLIS - With Valentine's Day just two days away, a helium shortage is deflating the hopes of florists and balloon shop owners.
"I don't think (balloons) makes her that much happier, but I think it's a part of the ensemble," said Mike Linnekamp, who was at Petal Pushers Tuesday ordering a flower arrangement with balloons for his wife.
Ruth Olson, owner of Petal Pushers, said it's been a struggle just getting the helium to inflate the balloons.
"The price is about two-and-a-half to three times what it normally is," Olson said. "I was able to get helium last week, but I got a small tank. It wasn't our regular tank. At Valentine's, I won't do balloon bouquets. We'll do balloon add-ons. If you want to add a balloon to a dozen roses we can do that. But I can't do our regular seven-balloon bouquet."
Wally Brant -- president of Indiana Oxygen, which provides helium and other gases to companies through the state -- said demand has been up for helium, but not just for filling balloons.
"There is an increasing demand, not just balloon helium, but from research and development, MRIs, lasers, LCD production," Brant said. "The demand for a while seems to be outgaining the supply."
There are hopes for increased domestic helium production in states such as Wyoming, and from other countries, including Algeria and Australia. Overall, the shortage has no end in sight.