The party’s over

Up, Up & Away to close after three decades

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/28/18

Up, Up & Away will soon shut its doors after 29 years of business.

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The party’s over

Up, Up & Away to close after three decades

Posted

Up, Up & Away will soon shut its doors after 29 years of business.

Owner Pat Johnson made the difficult decision to close after losing her husband, Ray, in 2016.

“He was such a big part of this. Even when he had a full-time job in Birmingham, he still worked here,” she said.

The Johnsons and their two children worked together to make the business a success after it opened on Highway 78 across from Importer’s Warehouse in 1989.

The store expanded twice in that location before relocating to its current address on 20th Avenue East in Jasper in 2000.

For the first 10 years, the Johnsons specialized in deliveries for special occasions.

“It was like a floral shop without flowers,” Pat Johnson said. “Some people like flowers, but some people want something they can keep. That’s what we did. We delivered balloons and baskets. We had a walk-in store where you could buy gifts. We were totally different from anything in Jasper at that time.”

Johnson saw the need for such a shop while doing clerical work in local offices.

She noticed that employers needed someone to call when it was time to organize a birthday party or retirement reception for one of their employees.

Johnson and her husband, Ray, visited stores in other states that specialized in gift delivery and brought the concept to Jasper.

“When we opened, we had the balloons big enough to put gifts like stuffed animals inside. That was unique at that time. Everybody loved that,” Johnson said.

Longtime customers of Up, Up, and Away will remember the balloon sculptures that the Johnsons prepared for holidays.

In the 1990s, the store received several awards from the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County for parade entries and storefront decorations.

One year, the Johnsons built a 12-foot walking snowman, a Nutcracker and a Santa Claus made entirely out of balloons.

At Halloween, giant spiders and pumpkins appeared outside the store. Children who approached a sculpture known as the Giving Pumpkin were delighted when someone inside dispensed candy.

“We had people tell us they couldn’t wait to drive by the store and see what we had done from month to month,” Johnson said.

After the move in 2000, the business became Walker County’s go-to-place for party supplies and costumes.

The Johnsons also began offering a host of new services — table and chair rentals, napkin and invitation imprinting, decorating for special events such as weddings, proms and banquets.

Customers who have learned that the store is closing have asked Johnson to continue offering balloons and rentals. She is considering it, though the business will move to a different location if she decides to remain open.

The closure, which is expected to occur in early March, will be bittersweet for Johnson.

“It’s been a fun business. We appreciate Jasper so much for supporting us through the years. We have been a part of so many people’s lives,” she said.