By Julia Masters
Ever since getting his first balloon at the state fair as a child, Robert Bryant said he has had an affinity for those floating balls of happiness on a string.
When he heard that Carrboro’s beloved Balloons and Tunes — a staple in the community for 40 years — was closing on Nov. 28 due to the pandemic, he said the possibility of taking over ownership and re-opening the store was a no-brainer.
And so he did, buying the store and re-opening it, both for inside shopping and curbside, earlier this month.
“My love for balloons first came when I was much younger and I saw my first balloon bouquet, because they just add so much excitement and energy to a person’s life,” said Bryant. “As far as decorating, they really add a lot of value, a lot of dimension to a party and take it to another level.”
Bryant has a passion for businesses with rich histories and is the owner of Avenue Garden Florist, serving Wilson, NC since 1931. As a balloon enthusiast, Bryant said he followed the business model of Balloon and Tunes’ previous owners, Pat Garavaglia and Sharon Collins, and strove to create a similar atmosphere at his florist shop.
For the past few years, he was considering approaching Garavaglia and Collins about one day owning the shop, so he said he jumped at the opportunity to keep it afloat. Bryant said he is excited to own the store because of the support it has gotten from the community.
“I am excited because the community is so enthusiastic about the shop and also being able to work with Carolina and UNC Chapel Hill, I am really looking forward to that,” said Bryant, adding that he is also looking forward to working with the Duke Blue Devils.
Bryant plans to keep everything the same at Balloons and Tunes, potentially adding more modern, updated options.
“The community can expect the same service and I share the same passion and ambition as the previous owners,” he said.
“They will continue to receive the great service and Balloons and Tunes intends to be just as involved in the community in making sure that it prospers and continues to grow and everyone feels happy and welcome. I want it to be a fun shop that people can come when they are having a bad day and just leave laughing.”
Jada Scott, an employee of Balloons and Tunes for almost three years, said she could hardly believe it when she got the news about the store’s new ownership.
“I feel like what I do here is I create happiness, I get to help make something for customers that is really meaningful to their event or for a gift they are giving someone, and I just couldn’t be happier knowing I’m doing that for my community,” said Scott.
Scott started working at Balloons and Tunes part time — never having blown up a balloon — and said she absolutely fell in love with the environment and more important, she said, with the people.
“When I think about how we’ve affected the community over the years, we’ve had clients come in for their wedding parties, to their baby showers, to pre-school graduation, all the way to high school and college graduation and then their children are continuing to do that with their new families,” said Scott. “It is a part of Carrboro, it makes Carrboro.”