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Pandemic turns sisters’ event planning business into new store in Groves

When Michelle Pickney and Angela Nellison were growing up in Port Arthur, their mother was constantly creating. Whether it was their homecoming mums or party decorations, everything was made by hand. And she took party decorating very seriously.

So when the sisters found the small shop on 39th Street in Groves, it was as if their late mother was guiding them.

“Angela saw it and was like, ‘Michelle, this would be perfect,’” Pickney recalled as Nellison said, “It’s like a little house.”

And it was a perfect size for the sisters, who had previously been delivering orders to homes.

Bella Balloons and More makes custom and ready-made gift baskets for all occasions. (Monique Batson/The News)

Pickney, who now resides in Atlanta, agreed during a visit at Christmas to pass by the store.

“I came back last month, and I told Angela if it’s still for rent, I’m going to reach out and talk to the owner,” she said. “Within 24 hours, we were signed, sealed, delivered, in here.”

The business started 10 years ago as event planning.

But when COVID hit, events were hit too.

“When everything got shut down we had 20 weddings on the calendar,” Pickney said. “I had a couple of friends whose kids were graduating, so I made them a basket. And Angela was like, ‘We need to sell these on Etsy.’”

They sold more than $10,000 in baskets in one month.

Bella Balloons and More, which opens Saturday, has Father’s Day gifts in stock. (Monique Batson/The News)

And just like that, an event planning business became much more.

Now the sisters specialize in everything from baskets and etched gifts to anything that can be done with a balloon.

During the pandemic, they created custom balloon marquis and dropped them at the customer’s door.

“We were doing everything we could to still stay relevant,” Pickney said.

Soon, Pickney will return to Atlanta, where she works, and Nellison will continue to manage the business side in Southeast Texas.

But first, they’ll officially open Bella Balloons and More at 6110 39th Street Saturday for a meet and greet.

“We’ve been saying, ‘This is Momma making this happen,’” Pickney said. “It’s her working this thing out.”