November—particularly the early part of the month—is a sweet spot in a dance retailer’s annual cycle. You’ve survived back-to-school, and the bulk of your holiday planning is done. It’s a time to step back, reevaluate your business goals and sharpen your focus for the coming year—before you’re swept up in holiday sales madness. Use these precious few weeks to position your store to kick off the winter with purpose. With that in mind, we have a couple of features to help you ensure your business is firing on all cylinders.
“The Parent Trap” (page 18) shows how important it is to have dancers’ parents on your side. After all, they finance their children’s dance careers. Busy parents have many wide-ranging responsibilities, and you must continually remind them about the valuable services you provide. You have to make it worthwhile for a harried mom to pop into your store in the course of her busy day, rather than simply ordering tights and shoes on her laptop before she falls into bed. Here, several veteran retailers discuss the unique methods they use to connect with dance parents.
It’s impossible to finish the year without reflecting on your financial situation. In “Tax Tips” (page 20), small-business expert Barbara Weltman shares plenty of practical advice to help you minimize your 2015 taxes and plan ahead for the coming year.
Wishing you a productive month!
What’s the key to a stress-free and successful holiday sales season? Planning ahead! We’re here to help. This issue is filled with ideas to help you get the most out of this competitive period. Here are a few steps you can take now to ensure you’ll have a December to remember.
1. Stock up. Delight your customers by offering a fresh selection of unique gift items for dancers. From holiday ornaments to must-have accessories, “Winter Wishes” (page 14) offers a diverse mix of items that will look great in a stocking or under a tree. For additional ideas, turn to “Stocking Stuffers” (page 34) to hear from four young dancers who divulge their latest holiday wish lists.
2. Make your store shine. Decor is a crucial element for specialty retailers year-round, but independent shopkeepers must ratchet up the intensity in the final months of the year to compete with chain stores for shoppers’ attention. Turn to “Deck the Halls” (page 26) for an inspirational look at several creative displays from holidays past.
3. Get the word out. Though social-media marketing is here to stay, it isn’t always an adequate substitute for a well-crafted physical flyer or coupon—particularly for small businesses. In “Step Up Your Design Game” (page 20), we discuss how today’s design-savvy customers have grown to expect a certain level of professional polish in all marketing materials. Our handpicked experts share plenty of ideas on how you can improve the look and feel of your printed items.
Wishing you a jolly and rewarding holiday season!
It’s no secret that many traditional dance retailers view online retailers as a threat. They’re open 24 hours a day, customers don’t have to travel farther than their sofas to shop there and many of the big sites offer notoriously low prices. For years, the question running through this industry’s collective mind has been: How can independent brick-and-mortar stores possibly compete? While there’s likely no going back to a time when local mom-and-pops were the only option dancers had, it has certainly been established that consistently providing unparalleled customer service, offering a product selection laser-targeted to suit the needs of the local dance community and creating memorable, personalized experiences for every shopper is an excellent start.
But what about the stores that have found a way to “be all things to all people”? This month, we hear from a few dance stores with both thriving store-based and web-based businesses in “Mastering Multichannel Retailing” (page 22). These dance retail veterans explain how they developed the online segments of their businesses and how these moves have supported and grown their brands. One store, for example, rings up $50,000 in sales annually from its online store, alone!
Granted, simultaneously running a physical and virtual store isn’t for everyone. But, for those storeowners with the time, money and manpower necessary to make such an investment, it may be a worthwhile move that increases the chances of long-term success. After all, as writer Basia Hellwig points out, “with most consumers now looking and researching online before going shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, storeowners can’t afford to completely ignore the online selling world.”
Wishing you a month filled with innovation,
In just a few weeks, shoppers will swarm your shop to snag the supplies they’ll need to return to the studio. Are you ready? You’ve certainly placed your major fall orders by now. Undoubtedly, you’ve already reached out to local studio owners for an update on their latest dress-code requirements. Now, you just have to put the finishing touches on your store.
For some fresh ideas on how to spruce up your shop, turn to our Designs & Displays section (page 30). This month we’re showcasing several stores with inventive accessory displays. These creative, compelling arrangements keep small pieces of inventory from getting lost in the shuffle and drive add-on sales. Be sure to tweak your own accessory arrangements before the fall rush begins.
You also won’t want to miss Leslie Groves’ column (page 32). This month, she shares tips for creating attractive, informative and consistent in-store signage that makes it easy for customers to shop. From practical advice on font size and content to unique approaches to styling (I’m an especially big fan of Leslie’s suggestion to add cubed signage to tabletop displays), you’ll find plenty of ideas to help you take your own signage to the next level.
Finally, be sure to read this month’s Seen & Heard section, where several veteran dance retailers discuss their strategies for appealing to dance teachers as a way of reaching students. After all, as the article points out, “Studio owners have the power to set student dress codes, but dance teachers are the ones with the power to set trends.” Turn to page 34 and get inspired!
Wishing you a successful back-to-school season,
Who is your best business ally? With increasing competition from online discounters and studios that sell apparel directly to students, many independent dance retailers are finding that their strongest partners are fellow dance storeowners. In “Making Connections” (page 24), we speak with several dance storeowners who have discovered the value of connecting with other retailers. These retailers turn to one another for advice and guidance, to brainstorm new business ideas and, on rare occasions, to help one another fulfill customer requests. Read their stories and get inspired to strengthen your own connections throughout the industry.
Speaking of relationships, this time of year is ideal for connecting with local school groups to lay the foundation for the coming year of performance-related sales. From high school dance teams to musical theater departments at local universities, it’s crucial to position your store to capture sales opportunities that exist beyond the local studio scene. Turn to Seen & Heard (page 36) to learn how five veteran dance storeowners cater to local school groups.
Finally, you won’t want to miss our feature on pointe shoe fittings (page 22). Every retailer understands the value in providing a memorable first pointe shoe fitting experience, but this month we’re exploring how to create valuable fitting experiences for seasoned pointe dancers. Giving these savvy customers the level of service they want and need will keep them returning to your store for all of their dance footwear needs.
The race to back-to-school season has begun. Are you ready to serve the gaggle of dancers who will soon descend upon your store in search of the apparel, shoes and accessories they’ll need to return to the studio? We’re here to help.
First, you’ll want to arm yourself with the latest dress-code information from your local studio partners. What Dancers Want (page 38) shares insight from several studio owners about how they’d like to be treated by local dance merchants during the back-to-school season. From valued services to preferred communication tactics, these dance professionals detail how they want local storeowners to manage and facilitate dress-code requirements for their students.
Once you know what you’ll need, don’t wait too long to restock your store. To make the ordering process easier, we’ve compiled the latest deadlines and incentive information from more than 30 manufacturers. Refer to our chart on page 20 before placing your seasonal orders.
Finally, the period running up to back-to-school season is an ideal time to make sure your store is equipped to meet as many of your customers’ needs as possible. Dance retailers have the opportunity to provide (and charge for) several unique services that can improve customers’ overall shopping experience and strengthen a store’s brand identity. “Beyond the Leotard and Pointe Shoes” (page 24) showcases several dance stores that are selling unique, valuable services. After all, product selection is just one way that brick-and-mortar retailers can differentiate themselves in today’s extra competitive marketplace.
Spring has sprung, which means it’s time to start looking ahead to summer! Without the right kind of planning, the post-recital/pre–back-to-school season can be a slow time for dance retailers. But with some creativity, you can keep customers streaming through your doors all summer long. This issue is designed to help you figure out how to make that happen.
First, you’ll want to make sure that your store is positioned to provide customers everything they’ll need for summer camps and intensives. “Heat Wave” (page 18) offers fresh looks for dancers headed to summer programs, and “Legs for Days” (page 14) is filled with shorts that will suit dancers of every style. For even more ideas, read “Summer Stock” (page 30) for feedback from four ballet academy students about the products and accessories they need to survive while they’re away at summer intensives.
Once your intensives game plan is in place, start thinking about how you’ll draw other customers to your store this summer. For inspiration, turn to Seen & Heard (page 28), which shares feedback from several creative retailers on the sales, promotions and other inventive techniques they use to boost summertime sales.
Wishing you a successful summer!
Thank heaven for little girls! The preschool dance apparel category represents an evergreen source of “fresh starts” for dance retailers. Every year a new group of tiny dancers streams into your store seeking the gear they need to attend their first dance classes, which means that every year you get a new chance to make a positive first impression on a fresh bunch of customers and their parents. In short, the preschool market is a gift that keeps on giving.
This issue is designed to help you cater to your youngest, most impressionable customers. To begin, turn to “Petite Primas” (page 16) for a peek at some of the latest tot apparel on the market. Stock up on these must-have items to keep your assortment feeling fresh. Then, turn to Seen and Heard (page 34) to learn how several veteran retailers are going above and beyond to court preschool customers. From engaging special events to unique customer service practices designed to make every young customer feel like a princess, you’re sure to find inspiration that will help you fine-tune your own approach to dealing with tiny dancers.
Finally, don’t miss this month’s Ask Leslie (page 32). She offers practical design tips and tricks to ensure that your store feels as welcoming as possible to young shoppers and their parents.
With the right strategy, you’ll be able to establish yourself right away as an irreplaceable source of the products and insider info dancers need to navigate the local studio scene. After all, if you can connect with these shoppers early on, you’ll gain customers for life.
Talk to me! What’s your strategy for appealing to young dancers? How do you create unforgettable shopping experiences for your smallest customers? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your ideas.
As studio dancers around the country rehearse for spring performances, it’s time to prepare your store for recital season. Dancers and their parents are busier than ever, so this is the perfect opportunity to remind customers that you make their lives easier by providing, at a moment’s notice, all the dance apparel, shoes and accessories they need.
To get in gear, you’ll need to stock up on tights and shoes, of course, but you’ll also want to be prepared for potential last-minute costume sales opportunities. In “Showstopping Styles” (page 18), we feature 14 pieces that serve dancers well in class and onstage. “Perfect Presents for Performers” (page 14) gives a glimpse at postperformance gifts to delight every type of dancer. And don’t forget to check out What Dancers Want (page 38) for an insider’s look at the items seasoned studio dancers say they simply can’t live without on a recital weekend.
Once you’ve replenished your stockroom, begin strategizing about how you’ll drive sales this spring. Turn to Seen and Heard (page 36) to see how six veteran dance retailers go above and beyond to anticipate customers’ recital season needs. From creating special displays to boost performance undergarment sales to working with local studios to compile detailed lists of accessory requirements for each of their routines, there are plenty of inspirational ideas that should spur your own creativity.
Talk to me! What’s your recital season sales strategy? What steps will you take to get customers streaming through your doors during this spring performance season? E-mail me at email@example.com to share your plans.
Happy New Year! We hope you had a successful holiday season and you’re feeling energized and ready to take your business to new heights in 2015. DRN has all the tools you need
to start off the year on the right foot.
First, turn to page 18 for our annual ordering guide. This handy package is filled with key ordering deadlines and incentive information from more than 30 dance apparel, shoe and accessory manufacturers. Plus, it offers insights from several leading vendors about the dancewear trends that are expected to hit it big in 2015.
Once your ordering plans are in place, take a moment to think about the big picture. What are your major goals for 2015? Where do you hope to take your business? For inspiration, read “Retail Resolutions” (page 34) to discover how several dance retailers plan to grow and strengthen their businesses in the coming year.
Finally, don’t miss “Instagram Ideas” (page 22). We already know that a picture is worth a thousand words, but as this social-media platform continues to grow in popularity, it’s becoming clear that pictures can be worth money, too. We showcase how several dance stores are using this visual medium to capture customers’ attention and get them into their stores.
Talk to me! What’s your New Year’s resolution?
For example, are you planning to add a new product category to your store, expand your website or add more studio visits to your calendar? Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me your business goals for 2015!