Robbie’s Balloons and More opens in Lehighton
What began with a childhood fascination for Robbie Furman has turned into a three-decade career of uplifting spirits through balloon art.
Now, Lehighton residents and visitors can experience the enchantment of “Robbie’s Balloons and More” firsthand after the New Jersey native recently cut the ribbon on his store at 114 S. Fourth St. in Lehighton.
Everything in Furman’s store is handmade, including signature pieces like bears and flowers. The front window currently boasts a big tree with butterflies, while the back of the store features an interactive haunted forest balloon maze.
“I wanted to find a little piece of America to call my very own and this is a just beautiful area to set up shop,” Furman, who relocated back to the east coast to be closer to family after a stint in California, said. “It’s going gangbusters already.”
The store is currently open Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., but Furman encouraged customers to call him at 570-242-9080 and other times could be arranged.
“If the light is on, we’re here,” he said.
Furman said he takes pride in offering affordable gift items starting at just $3, making gift giving accessible to everyone.
“I believe that gift giving shouldn’t have to be expensive,” he said. “I don’t want this to be just a one-time experience for customers. I want people to be coming back from celebrating their newborn to the college graduation party.”
The fascination with balloon art began at an early age for Furman.
“I was just 6 years old when I attended a birthday party and saw a balloon artist in action. I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do when I grew up,” Furman said.
Despite his enthusiasm, his mother didn’t always take his dream seriously, but that didn’t deter him. Fast forward to his early twenties, while working in a used bookstore in Los Angeles, Furman discovered a book on making balloon animals, and that marked the beginning of his career in balloon art.
It wasn’t an overnight success, though. Robbie spent a decade honing his craft, starting with simple balloon animals like swords and dogs. His journey coincided with the introduction of a wide variety of balloons in different shapes and sizes, leading him to experiment and expand his repertoire.
“I had to prove my skills to doubters who challenged me, saying, ‘I bet you can’t make a fill in the blank.’ I’m from Jersey, so I had to show them,” Furman said.
His commitment to mastering his craft didn’t stop at balloon animals. Furman began participating in various charitable events and volunteered, using his balloon artistry to make a difference. He joined the Peace Corps and engaged in missionary work, all while continuing with his balloon creations.
In the early 2000s, Furman decided to set up a balloon shop with a focus on inclusivity.
“I hired ten young adults with disabilities to help run the shop,” he said. “We kept expanding and then people started asking me to come teach in different places.
As word spread, Furman found himself traveling worldwide, teaching balloon art in over 30 countries. Some of his most memorable projects, he said, include creating balloons for the Princess of Liechtenstein, gracing the White House lawn with balloon artistry on Independence Day, and having his art displayed on shows like “All My Children” and “Regis and Kelly.”
At the Lehighton store, Furman has promised an ever-changing experience. After Halloween, for example, the haunted forest exhibit will transform into a 10-foot fruit basket, where visitors can take photos for Thanksgiving.
In addition to the store, Furman is set to bring his “Twistecology” educational videos and teaching philosophy to his customer base.
“Everything I make, I also teach,” he said. “I do my own conventions with some of my friends and we go around the country. My goal is to bring something to Lehighton in the spring and do a big installation. In a few weeks, we’re hoping to build a walk-through Gingerbread house for one of the local festivals here. We’ll have people come inside and raise money for one of the local charities.”
For more information, visit Furman’s website at https://robbiesballoonsandmore.com/.