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Editor's Note: Revving Up for Recital Season

Dance Retailer News

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.

—Colleen Bohen

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 cbohen@dancemedia.com to share your plans.

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Editor's Note: Starting Fresh

Dance Retailer News

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.

—Colleen Bohen

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 cbohen@dancemedia.com to tell me your business goals for 2015!

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Editor's Note: Change is Good

Dance Retailer News

Dance Retailer News is always reminding readers how important it is to keep their stores looking fresh. This month, we’re taking our own advice. Welcome to the new and improved DRN! We hope you’ll agree that our cleaner, more sophisticated design is an adequate reflection of the increasingly savvy manner in which you navigate today’s marketplace.

Speaking of savvy, you’ll be particularly impressed with the storeowner featured in this month’s Retailer Spotlight. Though she’s only 27 years old, Josephine Lee, owner of Dancer’s Choice in Irvine, CA, has already created a destination brick-and-mortar shop and established herself as a pointe shoe fitting expert (dancers have traveled from Hawaii, Arizona and several other far-flung locales just to buy shoes from her). She has even parlayed her reputation into a second successful business: The Pointe Shop by Dancer’s Choice, a mobile pointe shoe fitting service that she launched earlier this year. Best of all, next month she’ll introduce a certification program to teach her fitting techniques to other independent dance retailers throughout the U.S. If Lee is representative of the next generation of retailers who will lead this industry, we should be in good hands. Turn to page 22 to read all about her business. Wishing you a month filled with innovation and inspiration!

—Colleen Bohen

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Editor's Note: Driving Sales

Dance Retailer News

First came the food trucks, then came the mobile fashion boutiques. Now, we have the mobile dance boutique. Launched this summer, Micki Samson’s dance-store-on-wheels is the latest embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit that keeps our small-but-mighty industry thriving.

Samson, owner of The Dance Shop in Altoona, PA, since 2004, isn’t giving up on brick-and-mortar retail. Her 3,200-square-foot store is going strong. (Read all about it on page 22.) She’s using her new retrofitted box truck to bring products to potential customers wherever they happen to be—at local studios, community events and more. Samson is going above and beyond to serve her customers, and it’s paying off. When I first spoke to her about the truck in early August, just a few days after she announced it to her customers, she already had eight requests for appearances at local studios. Not too shabby.

Between competition from discount websites and services that allow studios to sell apparel and shoes directly to students—not to mention the still recovering economy—traditional dance retailers are facing many obstacles right now. But it’s encouraging seeing storeowners like Samson, who are rising to the challenge and finding innovative ways to keep their businesses competitive in an ever-changing environment. Bravo!

Talk to Me
What’s your primary source of competition right now? How are you staying competitive in today’s environment? I want to know! Send your thoughts to cbohen@dancemedia.com!

—Colleen Bohen

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Editor's Note: Be Unforgettable

Dance Retailer News

To remain competitive in today’s marketplace, storeowners must strive to make a lasting impression on customers. A good place to do that is in your approach to shoe sales. Shoes are an essential profit-driving category for dance retailers, and it only makes sense to fine-tune your selling strategies. If you can provide a young dancer with a comfortable, memorable shoe-buying experience, you’ll gain a customer for life.

The key to closing a shoe sale is offering a professional fitting. It all starts with an inviting fitting area. Turn to “Superb Shoe-Fitting Areas” (page 32) for a peek inside four dance stores with attractive, functional fitting areas that keep customers coming back. Then read “Getting to the Pointe” (page 24) for expert advice from veteran retailers on creating the perfect first pointe shoe fitting. And don’t miss “What Dancers Want” (page 38), which gives feedback from experienced ballet dancers on the special touches they most appreciate during fittings.

Once you’ve updated your shoe sales strategy, turn to “Get Creative with Your Loyalty Rewards” (page 22) for innovative ideas that will take your store’s customer loyalty program to new heights. Implement these strategies to make your devoted customers feel as valued as possible.

—Colleen Bohen

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Editor's Note: We Wish You a Profitable Christmas

Dance Retailer News

The holiday season is often called the most wonderful time of the year, but for retailers, it’s also the busiest. The pressure to compete for shoppers’ attention is never higher than in those few bustling weeks before Christmas. And with promotions from big-box and online retailers encouraging customers to start their shopping earlier each year, independent retailers must work even harder to pull shoppers into their stores.

This issue is filled with inspirational ideas that will help you make a splash this holiday season. For example, “Seasonal Sales and Promotions” (page 22) showcases several creative techniques dance retailers have used to attract gift-hungry shoppers—from a sale designed to keep customers returning to a store multiple times in a matter of days, to a magazine-style gift guide that helped shoppers see existing inventory in fresh ways. Plus, in this month’s Seen and Heard (page 36), several veteran retailers discuss their go-to moves for pulling in foot traffic during the holidays.

Since seasonal decor is such an essential component of creating an inviting atmosphere, we’ve highlighted four dance stores that have incorporated Christmas trees into their decor. In “Creative Christmas Trees” (page 32), we offer ways these iconic holiday symbols can be both seasonally appropriate and in keeping with stores’ larger mission to promote dance-specific sales. And, on page 34, Leslie Groves offers step-by-step instructions for three wintry window arrangements.

Finally, because getting customers to visit your store is just half the battle, “Jolly Good Gifts” (page 14) features products sure to please every dancer on shoppers’ lists.

Wishing you a season filled with profit and joy,

—Colleen Bohen

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Editor's Note: Maintaining Momentum

Dance Retailer News

Congratulations! After months of preparation, you’re finally seeing some light at the end of the back-to-school tunnel. Now that the fall rush is almost over, it’s time to decide how you’ll keep your momentum through the end of the year.

“Planning for Successful Sales” (page 20) will interest any retailer looking to time sales for maximum impact. From the best times of year to host a sale to tips on how to successfully shorten your sales to create a stronger sense of urgency in customers, you won’t want to miss this one.

You also have other challenges. Since so many of our readers have purchased their stores from previous owners, “Making Your Store Your Own” (page 22) addresses the unique hurdles that second-owners face when taking over existing dance stores.
A small-business expert gives feedback, and several experienced storeowners offer practical strategies that will help you know how and when to make changes to your store.

Finally, if you run your store with the help of a spouse, child, sibling or other family member, you’ll want to read “All In The Family” (page 24). Managing a small, close-knit staff can be tricky under any circumstances, but maintaining a professional, respectful and productive atmosphere can be even more challenging when family is involved. This feature is filled with practical advice from veterans of family-run dance stores on how to successfully manage in-store interactions with co-working relatives.

Dive in!

—Colleen Bohen

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Editor's Note: You Get What You Pay For

Dance Retailer News

You’ve probably been following the minimum wage debate playing out in the fast food and big-box retail sectors. In this issue, we look at how this labor revolution could affect your business and offer strategies to help you prepare for an increase. After all, as the article on page 24 points out, some states have already bumped up their minimum wages, and a national increase is likely not far behind. We’re here to help you through this seemingly inevitable transition. With the right planning and the right frame of mind, you’ll come out on the other side of any wage bump with the assurance that your increased investment in your employees will be worthwhile.

Whenever we discuss a potential minimum wage increase on our social-media pages, readers typically express concern that such changes may force them out of business. While there’s no denying that finding more salary money in the budget can be challenging, it shouldn’t be impossible. We’re not saying this to be dismissive or insensitive to the struggles of the small-business owners who faithfully read this magazine. We’re saying it because we see this debate as an opportunity for readers to reevaluate and make sure they’re putting their money where it will really pay off.

Brick-and-mortar dance storeowners hang their hats on the idea that customers should be willing to visit their stores, rather than shop online, because of the expertise and above-and-beyond service only found in stores. Unless you run your store single-handedly, you are not the only one providing those services. You likely rely on a staff of faithful and passionate employees with years of dance-world experience. You’ve taken the time to train them in the art of fitting, taught them exactly how to treat your clientele and entrusted them with your livelihood. These people are valuable and cannot be easily replaced. Whether it’s mandated or not, we’re willing to bet that in the long run you’ll be pleased with an increased investment in the living, breathing assets who keep your business thriving. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

—Colleen Bohen

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Editor's Note: Wishing You a Successful Summer

Dance Retailer News

Welcome to summer! After surviving the longest winter in memory, you’ve earned the chance to take a breath and reflect on the year you’ve had so far. With the bulk of your customers away at camps, intensives and on vacation, now is also an ideal time to deal with some issues you may not have time for during your busiest seasons.

There’s no better way to position your business for long-term growth than by making sure you’re literally in the right place. Our feature on mastering your lease renegotiation (page 24) offers advice from commercial real estate experts that will help you use your track record as a good tenant to negotiate more favorable terms when you renew your lease. Locking in a better monthly rate or convincing your landlord to spruce up your facility can give you the confidence and flexibility you’ll need to grow your business.

Similarly, you’ll want to keep your social-media skills sharp. At this point, all retailers know that a strong social presence is key to connecting with and courting customers.However, ever-changing algorithms are keeping marketers on their toes and making it necessary to continually tweak one’s approach.Turn to page 20 for the latest tips and tricks for making a splash on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Finally, be sure to set aside some time to check out our new-and-improved Dance Retailer News Directory, which has been mailed to you with this issue. This annual resource features essential information on more than 550 key vendors that sell everything from POS systems and fixtures to dance bags and pointe shoes. Essentially, you’ll find everything you need to keep your business running smoothly!

—Collen Bohen

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Editor's Note: The Game Has Changed

Dance Retailer News

In DRN, we’ve always talked about the importance of building relationships with local dance teachers and studio owners as a way of driving traffic into your store. But those partnerships have never been more necessary. With seemingly unlimited discounts available online, the increasing prevalence of studio-only apparel and shoe brands and the introduction of services that allow studios to sell directly to students without the need to hold or manage inventory, you now need teachers and studio owners more than they need you. You must continually work to show them that you’ll go above and beyond to keep them and their students happy.

Get creative: Consider hiring a messenger and adding a same-day delivery service so your busiest customers can have the last-minute tights or shoes they need within a few hours of picking up the phone. Or try renting a corner of the lobby at your busiest studio and setting up a branded satellite location filled with tights and studio uniform basics, so students can grab them before class and be prompted to visit your main location for fashion items and accessories. And make sure you’re offering can’t-miss services to remind studio owners that it’s worth supporting your store because you’re providing more than just product. (For example, in “Relationship Reboot” (page 36), Diane Stein discusses how her in-store custom costume service is a huge draw to local dance educators.) The game has changed, and you must make it clear to your VIP customers that you will do whatever it takes to adapt.

With this in mind, back-to-school is more crucial than ever. Don’t wait to make sure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row for the busy season. “Back-to-School Guide” (page 20) features key fall ordering deadlines and incentives from leading manufacturers, plus ordering tips and tricks from several veteran retailers. Read on and get to work!

—Colleen Bohen

*Talk to me: How are you incentivizing teachers and studio owners to support your business in today’s marketplace? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Please e-mail me at cbohen@dancemedia.com.

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