Inside the Basket - Chani Kaibetoney, Balloon Fiesta Assistant Merchandise Manager
As Balloon Fiesta’s Assistant Merchandise Manager, Chani Kaibetoney helps to bring to life, the fun merchandise items that commemorate the event.
In this month’s Inside the Basket, she shares more about how she became involved with Balloon Fiesta, the most challenging aspect of her job and insight on her favorite items.
1. Give a brief overview of your position with Balloon Fiesta.
I’m the Assistant Merchandise Manager for Balloon Fiesta. I work with Lisa Mulder, the Merchandise Manager, on creating, purchasing, and designing all of the merchandise for the event, our online store, and our gift shop.
2. How did you become involved with the organization?
My parents became involved in ballooning in the ’80s when I was about five years old. So, I grew up crewing for friends. Once I was older I thought it would be fun to volunteer for Balloon Fiesta. I was a Navigator for a few years and then came on as a seasonal employee in the Gift Shop. In December of 2021 I had the pleasure of joining Balloon Fiesta as a full-time staff member.
3. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Not buying all the things! Seriously, there are so many fun and exciting things that we want to offer, and it’s hard to narrow it down to the items that we do end up offering. Post-Covid also presented some other challenges in the supply chain and product availability. It’s difficult to design an item you know people will love, and not have the ability to bring it in for them.
4. What is your favorite part of your job?
I LOVE being a part of the design process for our items. It’s so much fun to watch our merchandise go from concept to final product, and then to see what we’ve created being enjoyed by our guests!
5. Which Balloon Fiesta merchandise items are your favorite and how can shoppers purchase these items?
I love so many of our items, but my two favorites would be pins and jackets! I’ve been collecting pins since I started ballooning. So, I love getting those yearly. Our jackets always have amazing and colorful embroidery. They’re pretty hard to resist! During the event, we have our two large merchandise tents, one on the South end of the field, and one closer to the North end. Everyone can also shop year-round online at Balloonfiestastuff.com or come into our gift shop at the Balloon Fiesta Office at 4401 Alameda Blvd. NE.
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