Business Must Adapt - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1784753

Business Must Adapt

Southampton Town must ban helium balloons, now.

The many compelling reasons why have been fully stated by others, and I won’t get into that here. I just want to address the argument that a ban would cause damage to those who sell helium-filled balloons.

This argument is not without a factual basis. If a retailer carries these items and they are a significant amount of the store’s sales, then, yes, they are going to take a significant hit from a helium balloon ban — and, yes, these are our neighbors we’re talking about here.

True enough. But this scenario has played out before. When certain pesticides were outlawed, the retailers who carried them suffered, but such products weren’t their whole inventory, and they eventually managed to make it up with sales of other goods. When fireworks sales were banned, at least in New York State, the sellers either made it up with other inventory or, if fireworks were their sole item, they went into other businesses.

Cigarettes and other tobacco products were not outlawed as such, but age restrictions and high sales taxes accomplished much the same result. Many people counted these items as a large proportion of their sales, and their businesses were greatly damaged by the anti-tobacco laws. There was a great cry of protest from these retailers — but all or most of them seem to have survived over the long term.

Was there harm suffered in all these cases? Yes, there was, but in the balance scale of history and policy, every one of these measures was absolutely necessary — and it’s just the same with the helium balloons. I promised I wouldn’t get into the reasons for the ban here, and I won’t, except to say that our planet is in imminent danger, and helium balloons are a serious part of the threat.

Balanced against that threat, the short-term interests of a few retailers must yield. They will survive as others before them have. I truly wish them well, but I won’t abide their exaggerating the harm to themselves in an attempt to defeat a law we must have.

George Lynch