As social-media trends evolve, Instagram has become a platform for sharing experiences and telling a story. Consumers are always on the lookout for design-driven, Instagrammable spaces everywhere they go—including dance stores. Savvy retailers are tapping into this to drive traffic to their stores: They’re updating their interior design to appeal to the experience-driven mind-set of today’s shoppers, who are often visiting places specifically to create content for their personal feeds.
You too can cash in on this cultural need to show off—not to mention get people off the couch and away from online retailers—by offering an Instagram-worthy experience in your store. Taking pictures becomes part of a memorable shopping experience for your customers, and user-generated content becomes a very powerful marketing tool for retailers. Posts from your customers get your brand name out there, help to make your store more relatable and increase online engagement. The more customers post about you, the more of those little red hearts you’ll see. Even more important, those hearts will lead to more in-store traffic and sales.
The Barre Room in Uniontown, PA, is full of intentionally designed areas where dancers can snap a photo. These include a branded shoe-fitting area, several open walls with bold designs and a step-and-repeat backdrop with the store’s logo. “I think it makes the kids more excited to come into the store to shop,” says owner Crystal Bogorae. “Kids don’t like to shop as much as they did 10 years ago. Me taking their picture or them taking their own picture in the store makes it a fun, interactive shopping experience.”
It doesn’t take much to get your store ready for the ’Gram and add to its appeal as a destination for shoppers. Young dancers and millennial moms go crazy for on-trend design touches, like felt letter boards, tropical banana leaf prints and coats of ‘millennial pink’ paint, which continually pop up in their feeds. The key is finding the elements that relate best to your brand. Here are some ideas for easy updates you can make in your store from a few (Instagram-famous) dance retailers.
Say It Loud With Signage
Post signs throughout your store that encourage shoppers to share their experience online. Include your Instagram handle and an appropriate hashtag so that customers will use it when they post their pictures. It is a missed opportunity if someone posts a picture of her first pointe shoe fitting but does not tag you in it. Nathalie Velasquez, owner of Nathalie & Co. Dancewear and Little Things in Phoenix, AZ, has a light-up letter board sign on her cash wrap and a beautiful hand-lettered chalkboard sign that can be moved around the store. Occasionally, she will add a sign that offers 10 percent off to anyone who checks in at her store. She also has her staff direct customers’ attention to the signs just in case anyone does not read them.
Create Irresistible Selfie Spots
Set up a bold backdrop to create a selfie spot in your store. There are plenty of easy options, but the key is staying on brand so customers’ posts promote the shopping experience you deliver. Cara Milo, owner of Beam & Barre in Cos Cob, CT, caters to a ballet-focused crowd. She hung a floral backdrop that she bought from a party favor website and added a large, script ‘B’. “Customers love it,” she says. “They definitely take more photos in our store now that we have the backdrop. Girls who are getting their first pair of pointe shoes love to take a picture with the backdrop, and young girls trying on tutus often insist on having their mom take their picture. It has definitely helped with engagement on Instagram.”
Velasquez opted to literally spell out her brand by having a custom sign shop make a step-and-repeat with her store’s logo. She says she initially thought she would use this for in-store events but ended up leaving it out all the time. “You can rent the stands to hold it, but I would recommend buying one because you will use it more than you think,” she advises.
Black-and-white polka dot shower curtains are hung in the door frames of South Daytona, FL–based Dance Depot’s fitting rooms. Owner Ashley Kelly says they double as photo backdrops when dancers are trying on new leotards. “My first business card design had polka dots with black, white and pink,” she says. “Inspired by that, I looked for cushions and curtains that would match my new color scheme.”
The Barre Room also has a black-and-white theme, which Bogorae says was inspired by the Capezio shoebox when the store opened 40 years ago. After Bogorae bought the store a year and a half ago she updated the look with a painted wall of black and white stars and another with wide black and white stripes. She says now customers are constantly taking their photos in front of the walls to show off their new outfits and shoes.
You can enhance the effects of a selfie wall with a few fun props—they will help draw customers over to the spot. Signs with funny sayings and extra tutus make even the most camera-shy shoppers excited. You can also leave out some extra-large frames for them to pose with. A cardboard cutout of the Instagram frame (with lots of likes, of course) is always a favorite, and it’s an easy way to publicize your store information and hashtags.
Design Special Spaces to Set the Scene
Incentivize your customers to take pictures throughout the entire store by creating little scenes in different areas of your store. Velasquez has a small runway in the center of her space that customers are happy to strut down as they test out new shoes and leotards. “If a young customer seems friendly we will ask her parent if we can take a picture and post it to our social media,” says Velasquez. She will usually say something like, “What is your Instagram [handle], so we can tag you in the post?” In turn, Velasquez says, those customers often follow the store and repost the content to their own feed.
You can do the same in your pointe shoe fitting area. “After every fitting for a customer’s first pair of pointe shoes, I put them in the same pose that I call the Dance Depot first-pair pose,” says Kelly. “The mom and I take their pictures, and
I post to Instagram. That’s how I encourage them to follow me on social media.”
Add your hashtag and store handle to the mirror behind your barre, or paint the dance floor to match your brand. At The Barre Room, dancers can stand on large white stars when they step up to the barre in their new shoes. The store also has a small chalkboard sign that says “My first pointe shoes” for dancers to hold in photos taken at the barre.
If you have a lounge area, add brightly colored pillows with inspirational sayings on them. Or paint a quote on the wall in your store. Inspirational quotes are one of the most common types of posts on social media, bonus points if the quote is dance-related.
Don’t forget your cash wrap when you consider special spaces within your store. Kelly has her checkout area wrapped in a large tutu and says she often does group photos in front of it. The cash wrap is also an ideal spot for pictures if you have your store logo printed on the wall behind it.
Make Sure Lighting Is Flattering
Good lighting is key to a strong selfie game, so make sure that you have plenty of lighting around the spots you want shared online. Natural lighting is best, so it’s ideal to create spaces near large windows. If windows are not close by, add spotlights that shine toward the subject’s face.
You can also add lighting fixtures that make a statement, like large chandeliers or sconces. Bogorae added stage lights above her shoe fitting area so that photos there are bright and theatrical-looking.
The key to Instagram success is to deliver a memorable experience to your customers that they will share with others. While bold, simple design elements will surely have them reaching for their phones, the way they are treated in your store, of course, will leave a lasting impression that will have them hitting the share button over and over again.
Photos courtesy of the retailers