Commentary

Memorial Day is Coming:

cropped-SCULPTURE-AMERICAN-FLAG-2-AAA1.jpgAmerican Flag created by Balloons by Absolute Value

It is getting close to Memorial Day Weekend and people will being doing a ton of different stuff. Picnics, BBQ’s, fishing, working in the garden or the yard. Maybe even going to the various stores or car lots and making a major purchase.

Now I have to admit I am not your rah rah American flag waiving citizen. Tend to keep those things I cherish to myself. I believe that I am a true patriot, who values the American Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the values my parents taught me.

To vote at every election, to respect the flag and all it stands for. To be able to sing the Star Spangled Banner and America The Beautiful by heart ( terrible singer). Still do the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and yes with the phrase “under God”. To honor our servicemen both present and past. Not just on this coming weekend but every day.

Most of you know that I am an old guy, soon to be 68. Have relatives who fought in WW II, Korea, Nam and yes the current wars in the middle east. I salute them and thank them for the service.

It doesn’t matter if you are on the right or on the left these brave men and women are fighting for you. Some have been badly injured already and others will be in the future. Families have made the ultimate sacrifice by losing a loved one.

So please take the time and remember them not just this weekend but every day. They are serving and protecting the rights we so dearly treasure. Say a prayer that they all come home safely and to the families they have left behind.

 

 

 

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I am back !

Did you miss me? I missed hearing from all of you!

If you’re a regular reader, you might have noticed that I haven’t made an entry to my blog in a of couple months.

Many of you emailed with concerns about me, think they missed the Lighter Side jokes the most to be honest with you.

I didn’t go on vacation or wasn’t sick or too busy to write what we have been doing lately. The simple explanation, GoDaddy was discontinuing there Blogcast program.

Wasn’t sure what I was going to do originally, but Godaddy and WordPress put together a package I liked. There was a conversion process that I had to do, or I would have lost all my previous entries to my blog.

After many attempts and lots of frustration I was able to make a successful conversion of my blog entries to the WordPress blogging program.

Won’t bore you with the details of upgrading to WordPress, but I definitely think it is an upgrade. You might have noticed some of the new widgets on the sidebar panel…

For me the big thing is how you, the reader can access the information on my blog…..

You can view the recent entries individually, by a category that I have defined, or by the month and year the blog was created. To me those are a vast improvement of how to read my blog.

I have jotted down notes and am in the process of writing what has happened in the months of May and June. We have been busy… so look for some pics and interesting stories ( I hope ) of our work

Have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Remember there are no stupid questions. I take that back, the Wonka reminded me of the time he asked a Nun a stupid question and got his knuckles whacked with a ruler…

Hope you enjoy the new format…….thanks for reading!

Charlie Johnson, Owner and Author

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Thanks, 2013 Comes to a Close

As the end of 2013 comes to a close it is time to send all of you who have been my customers a special “THANK YOU”. Without you I would not be in business. THANKS !!!

My old man always use to tell me “Be thankful for what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t have”. Sound advice from the smartest person I will ever know.

I count my blessing every day……I am in good health, have family and friend who love me, I eat three squares and I have a roof over my head. Really can’t get much better then that.

So as I close this message…..I hope you also reflect on what you have and be thankful for it too. After all we have lived another year……pretty awesome, huh.

May your Maker watch over you for another year……it won’t be long before we will be singing Auld Lang Syne and wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

Thanks again for being my customer and friend.

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With a Little Help From My Friends

I love music and attend a lot of concerts. Music is always playing in my house, my car or van and on the job……… There are certain tunes that I can’t get out of my head.

One of my favorite songs is “With a Little Help From My Friends”, not the Beatles version but the one by Joe Cocker.

Over the years I have been blessed with great friends, some over 30 years and others a shorter time. Each has been there for me and I have been there for them. I am sure you know what I am talking about.

Through out my business life I have always tried to treat my suppliers and clients or customers not as just a number but as a new friend. It is so much easier when you’re working with friends, right !

Balloon decor is a personal thing…………..it should fit the personality of who I am going to work with or for…… as I see it friends should know the little things about each other.

I always want to know more about them, sometimes the questions I asked might seem strange but it really helps me find out what their personalities are like.

When I am doing an event, it is personal and should be designed to fit my new friend to a “T”. I want them to walk into the room and have them say “WOW, this is just perfect”.

Friendship is a two way street, while I truly enjoy making people happy campers. They also make me a happy camper by passing my name around to their friends…….

One of my Mitzvah Mom’s years ago told me she passes my name around like cracker jacks……. that phrase still brings a smile to my face.

My new friends also challenge me and my crew to create new and different designs………keeping my work fresh. I thank them for that.

Friendship is not limited to my customers or clients……my suppliers who I have done business with for lots of years have helped make my business what it is today.

Thanks to Jack, Mike and Imogene, Albert and Neil, Bill, Paul and Lex……..without you, I would have been out of business long ago.

Now, you know why the song “With a Little Help From My Friends” means so much to me and I can never get it out of my head……..

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Another Year in Business

Balloons by Absolute Value started business 21 years ago on August 1st.  It seems just like yesterday when we started. We were going to be a balloon bouquet delivery service, but you, the customer changed the direction of our business. You wanted more.

I want to thank all of you for a couple of things.

First, for being loyal customers and constantly referring Balloons by Absolute Value to your friends, family and business associates……

Another, is constantly challenging us with your requests. This might seem trivial to some of you, but for us it made each day and event a challenge and a new experience.

Over the years, some of my customers and I have become great friends. That is a big bonus for us, true friends are hard to find. Hope you agree !

Twenty (20) years in business in today’s world is a rare thing. In the balloon decorating world, it’s a lifetime and almost unheard of. Kudos to you.

Nothing in life is a sure thing or a lock, but I hope to be running Balloons by Absolute Value into my 70’s. That is four more years till I hit that mile stone…..

Thanks for making the first twenty, GREAT !!!

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Happy 4th of July:

We created this American Flag for Whole Foods 

 Soon the Fourth of July will be here and people will be thinking of BBQ’s, Picnic’s, Fireworks, Camping and family get together’s of all kinds.

But what does this Holiday really mean? Am I proud to be an American by displaying the American Flag outside my house or does it mean honoring our fore fathers who so gallantly fought the British for the rights we now enjoy or is it to salute those who bravely defended our country through out the years.

I guess there is no real right or wrong way to describe what is an American. Some say it just means I was born in North America the US of A and that’s all. Others boast they are American’s all the time by wearing a label pin of the American Flag. Whose right? I don’t know.

The country has become more polarized since I was a pup, Democrats and Republicans could talk to each other civilly and compromise to make things better for all Americans.

Today both parties are more interest in protecting their own turf and making it stronger at the expense of the other. Compromise is something long forgotten. Big donors are catered to at the expense of the average American citizen.

Thinking back to the last election cycle, why did each party spend so much to elect their candidates. The positions they were running for paid a mere pittance of the total spent by each party. Something is very wrong here.

Candidates walked door to door and met the voters in the days of old, now you have Robo calls and mud slinging TV and Radio ads 24 / 7. Is this what we have to tolerate, we should demand better.

I am proud to be a second generation American, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are cherished by me. I am a middle of the road kind of guy, don’t lean left or right. Know the words to the Star Spangled Banner and sing them terribly but goose bumps still come to me each time I hear the words.

So I leave you with this thought. What does it mean to you, to be an American? Happy 4th of July !!!!

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Helium – The Big Gouge

Have you ever wondered to yourself, why has the price of this or that product took a big price hike? Why has the price of a simple balloon took such a dramatic jump?

I will get on my soap box and explain the price increase that is taking place now and in the future for the balloon industry.

A little background information first. Last September (2012) I was talking to my Helium supplier and he told me, “Charlie, I have been notified that there will be three (3) price increases for Helium in the year 2013. One in March or April, the second will be in June or July and the final one for the year will be in September or October.”

My statement was how does the Helium industry know when, where and how the price of a product will be increased. Certainly not by supply and demand, do they have a futuristic magic ball that can predict natural events like a tornado, flood or equipment failure. The answer is “NO”, it is purely simple “GREED”, “GOUGE” the customer till it hurts and then add another price increase.

Now when Helium was managed by the Federal Government the availability and price of Helium was stable. Since the privatization of Helium it has been anything but. Major shortages and price increases all the time.

This spring was the re-authorization of the Helium Act. The balloon industry, party stores and balloon manufactures were encouraged to write, call and email their Congressman and Senators to re-authorize this bill.

Without the re-authorization we were threatened that there would be no Helium for our industry. Can you imagine a little child not knowing what a Helium balloon is? What would a Birthday party be without balloons? How would you decorate a wedding or a Bar/Bat Mitzvah without balloons? Would you notice there isn’t a balloon arch at your favorite charity walk/run?

To make sure we in the industry understood the Helium industry meant business, they created a fake shortage right around Graduation time. This was to show us what it would be like to be without Helium. Naturally we had to turn customers away and our profits fell like a shooting star.

Well folks, we did what the Helium industry asked or threatened us with, and we called, wrote and emailed are elected officials. The re-authorization act was passed.

Did we get a letter or acknowledgment for our support? The answer is “NO”, we got another price increase instead. That is a total price increase of 65 per cent for me, others took a full 100 per cent increase in one year. One year, 65 per cent, that is plain and simple greed or price gouging in my opinion.

For you my customer, you now know why the price of a balloon and balloon decorating has jumped through the roof. If we are to stay in business, we have to pass these costs on to you. I feel your pain

I can hardly wait till September to see what and how much the Helium industry is going to gouge us again and the reasons they use this time.

Charlie Johnson

PS. I dare the Helium industry to tell me I am wrong about their price gouging methods. When is enough profits, enough for the Helium Industry.

 

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Memorial Day – Let’s Never Forget

 American Flag Arch

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of men and women who died while in one of the branches of our Armed Forces.

Most of us know that Memorial Day is the last Monday of the month of May and is a federal holiday. This tradition of honoring our fallen soldiers started after the Civil War and once was called Decoration Day.

Not to be confuse with Veteran’s Day in September, which honors all of our servicemen who have served our country. Memorial day is dedicated to honoring only fallen soldiers who died while serving our country.

Commerce City and Denver have the two largest Memorial Day parades. Other cities in Colorado have other celebrations honoring our soldiers, check the web for one near you.

So on Memorial Day take a few minutes out of your day of picnicking, fishing, camping, shopping and other activities to honor our fallen soldiers. We owe them so much, please don’t forget them.

The photo above is Balloons by Absolute Value rendition of an American Flag Arch.

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Helium – The Saga Unfolds

Generally, I am not into or don’t believe in conspiracies. On the subject of Helium I am a true believer of a conspiracy. I believe the Helium industry  not the suppliers to most balloon companies are in cahoots.

Since I have been in the balloon decorating business for over 20 years, I think I have a clear understanding of the Helium industry.

When Congress authorized the privatization of the Helium Reserves there was a lot of questions on how this industry would be run. Fears and doubts the balloon industry would be treated fairly was a major concern. Some of our worst fears have been realized. Price gouging or fixing.

We have been lied to about Helium shortages, pipeline failures and plant upgrades. All in the name of excessive price increases by the Helium industry.

Last fall my supplier told me, we would have three price increases in the year 2013. The first being in March or April, I was stunned and surprised at how someone could know when they would increase their prices so far in advance.

The industry had a plan to increase their profits. Well folks they have done just that. Just like clock work the first price increase has been announced for March.

A whopping 37 per cent increase. No justification to the reason why the increase, just that it will take place.

Now as a small business owner, I can’t eat a 37 per cent price increase, so I am sorry to say, I will have to raise my prices beginning in March. I will try to continue my practice of being reasonably priced.

Naturally I won’t raise my prices 37 per cent, because Helium is just part of my supplies. But there will be increase for sure, I am not sure how much yet. Balloons by Absolute Value has always tried to be affordable and the best value in Denver for balloon decor. We will continue to strive to do that in the future.

Stay tuned as the Helium industry will surely have more price increases in the future.

 

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Where did the time go? 20 years

Today, August 1st is a memorable day for me. Twenty years ago today I sold my first balloon bouquet. Yup, this is Balloons by Absolute Value’s 20th anniversary. Never did I think I would be doing this 5 years later let alone 20 years later.

For those who don’t know the story behind Balloons by Absolute Value, I will give you the condensed version. It all started 21 years ago when I was at an auction of a party goods store. I was there to buy stuff to sell at the flea market, I was really slow at loading my truck and I was the only buyer left at the auction.

When the auctioneer said “Damn, I forgot to auction the balloon stuff” he then said “Charlie, do you have a twenty dollar bill?” The answer was “Yes”. So I bought a bunch of balloons, inflators and a couple small helium tanks.

That’s right, my investment to start my business was only twenty dollars. Just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Well the balloon stuff sat in my basement for almost a year, when one day in May I said to my partner Sandy “Let’s start a balloon bouquet delivery business”. So I bought a thirty-five dollar a month ad in the yellow pages.

We practice making balloon bouquets and developed pricing and waited for the phone books to be delivered and the phones to ring soon after. Back then there were almost two hundred balloon companies, a lot of them were strip-o-grams or singing deliveries. I didn’t fit either of those categories, so I was going to offer the best balloon bouquets possible.

Our first call came on August 1st, we were real happy campers. I was able to make that delivery within an hour. That one delivery got us our next order, the companies Halloween party. Never did one before, but that didn’t stop me, I came home and planned one. That party was a huge hit and I was hooked on balloons and meeting great people.

Back in the day, there was no internet to learn from. I sent away for every magazine and catalog I could get my hands on. Also bought a few VCR videos to learn different techniques and styles. We learned the hard way, trial and error. It was truly a learning experience we will never forget.

Over the next nineteen years I got to meet tons of great people and worked for lots of great companies and organizations. To all my customers ” THANK YOU” for letting me and Balloons by Absolute Value be a part of your lives and events. I have learned a lot from all of you and I truly believe you have made Balloons by Absolute Value the greatest balloon company in Colorado.

I will never forget that day twenty years ago or all the other special occasions that I have been a part of in the last 19 years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart

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