Thanks to a still-recovering economy, and online retailers and studios that sell directly to students, there has never been more pressure to be competitive. Though storeowners are drawn to the business because they love dance (and dancers!), the ones who thrive combine that passion with the business savvy required to effectively assess and cater to the changing needs of local dancers. This issue is devoted to helping you sharpen the skills you’ll need to stay competitive in a demanding marketplace.
The ability to provide customers with a great pointe shoe fitting experience is essential. “Classic Pointe Shoe Fitting Mistakes” highlights key fitting errors that master fitters see retailers making over and over again. Turn to page 24 for these experts’ tips on how to fix these issues.
As social media continues to be crucial to connecting with customers, it’s vital to recognize the types of posts that elicit the best responses from shoppers. In “Successful Social-Media Posts” (page 34), we talk to four retailers about the posts that have gained the most attention and gotten the best results.
Finally, in this month’s Retailer Spotlight (page 26) we’re profiling Lorna Handy, a storeowner who gets results. She opened DanceMax Dancewear two years ago after spending nearly 30 years working for other Atlanta-area dance stores. When she finally had the financial resources to open her own store, she saw just under $1 million in sales in the first year. She utilizes a large, convenient location with a vast inventory to draw in customers from three states. We hope her approach to serving the regional dance community will give you new ideas about how to approach your own market.
Wishing you a fall filled with growth,
The most successful businesspeople reinvent their companies or products to suit customers’ changing tastes. In this issue, we’re celebrating several dance retailers and manufacturers who have found fresh ways to serve their clientele in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
As the popularity of barefoot dancing has grown, several dance shoe manufacturers have come up with inventive solutions that allow retailers to draw in barefoot dancers. In “Barely There Footwear” (page 18), we explore the rapidly growing footwear category for dancers who prefer to dance barefoot. The featured styles showcase the seemingly endless ways that creative designers can retool even the simplest products
to meet the diverse, hyperspecific needs of a wide range of dancers.
Retailers are also finding several fresh ways to keep customers satisfied and engaged. In “Upselling Strategies” (page 34), five dance storeowners discuss the varied methods they use to encourage shoppers to buy more whenever they’re in their stores. And “Strengthening Studio Bonds” (page 24) highlights three retailers who go above and beyond standard tactics to connect with local studio clients.
Inventory updates and customer service tweaks aren’t the only ways you can improve your store. “Sense and Sensibilities” (page 30) discusses how and why stores can appeal to all five of shoppers’ senses to create more memorable in-store experiences that will encourage brand loyalty.
Wishing you a summer filled with innovation,
* Shaping Sales
Don’t forget to read our Retailer Spotlight on page 26! This month, we visit Shape Shop in Boca Raton, FL. Find out how the owner, a New York native with a background in women’s apparel sales, has revamped a dance and activewear shop to better meet the needs of the area’s growing dance community.
The most important selling season of the year is around the corner. To help you prepare, we’re bringing you plenty of must-order products, along with advice that will help you attract shoppers and drive sales during back-to-school.
Now is the time to place the bulk of your orders, so you’ll have plenty of fresh inventory on hand for the end-of-summer rush. Our Fashion feature (page 14) offers 10 fresh shoes for fall, and our Products section (page 12) is packed with 14 of the latest dance bags. Plus, “Golden Opportunity” (page 18) discusses the growing gymnastics category and offers insight on the apparel gymnasts want and need.
Once your stockroom is in order, it’s time to think about how you’ll draw in customers this fall. “Back-to-School Blowout” (page 20) takes a look at five recent back-to-school promotions held by big-box retailers and offers expert advice on ways you can reinvent these concepts so they’ll work for your own clientele. Then, “Ask Leslie” (page 32) offers three simple, engaging back-to-school window concepts you can use to grab shoppers’ attention.
Wishing you the best B2S season yet!
Don’t forget to read our Retailer Spotlight! This month we’re visiting Elite Dance Outfitters in Clive, IA. Turn to page 24 to see photos of this bright, colorful stage-themed store and to learn how the owner’s creative marketing techniques (a text-messaging club and a proprietary app) appeal to her young, tech-savvy customers.
Are you ready for back-to-school season? The best way to ensure a low-stress, high-profit sales period is to plan ahead. Turn straight to page 18 for our comprehensive ordering package. It features key ordering deadlines and incentives from more than 30 companies, along with articles on the latest trends in ballet slippers, tutus and legwarmers. For more must-have apparel, check out our Fashion spread with its fresh looks for baby ballerinas (page 14), and our Products section, which is filled with gorgeous skirts sure to sell (page 12).
Once your shopping list is in order, take some time to reflect on your store’s decor. In “Walls That Wow” (page 28), we talk to savvy retailers and design consultants about the best ways to create a backdrop for your store that pleases customers and drives sales. From painted-on architectural detailing to blown-up photos, there’s sure to be something that will work for you.
As you spend the summer getting your store ready for the fall rush, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to hear about any special promotions, displays or other plans that you’re working on to draw in customers this fall. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to read our Retailer Spotlight (page 24). This month, we’re focusing on Just Dance Wear & Boutique, a four-year-old store in North Andover, MA. Check out how owner Kimberly Mollica attracts dancers from a variety of studios to her off-the-beaten-path location.
Welcome to DRN’s annual summer sales issue. This month,
our goal is to help you get the most out of the hottest months of the year.
Turn to “Summer Standouts” (page 14) for fresh pieces your customers will need for intensives and summer study programs. Then check out “Short Story” (page 12) for a glimpse at 13 pairs of must-have shorts for every dancer. Plus, “A Leg Up” (page 20) will fill you in on all of the latest innovations in the tights category. (The new knee-length tights from Body Wrappers and Capezio especially intrigue me! Check them out for your competition kids.)
Once your store is stocked, and the post-recital/pre-
intensive rush passes, take some time to work on your business. Consider refreshing your website—“Wow-Worthy Websites” (page 30 ) is filled with helpful design advice. Or focus on your staff. “Develop Your Dream Team” (page 22) offers plenty of practical team-building tips. It’s also a great time to host a special event, so turn to “Next-Generation In-Store Events” (page 18) for inspiration.
Read on and get motivated!
Don’t forget to read this month’s Retailer Spotlight (page 24). We were so impressed with owner Mindy Ortiz’s ability to spot a business opportunity where many others might have been intimidated. She was driven to open Twinkle Me Pretty, her trend-focused boutique for tweens, after realizing that the fashion-conscious students in her daughter’s dance classes were wearing trendy pieces they ordered online. The local stores were focused primarily on basics. Today, her South Jordan, UT, store offers fashionable dance apparel and a dash of hip streetwear for local teens and tweens.
Are you ready for spring performance and summer intensive sales? Since dance shoes are the bread and butter for most dance storeowners, now is a great time to reevaluate your footwear assortment to make sure you’re carrying everything your customers need.
“Gold-Standard Shoes” (page 16) features 14 classic shoe styles for a range of genres, and “Sole Savers” (page 14) showcases seven shoe-care accessories you can use to up-sell customers when they make footwear purchases. Plus, “Ballroom Blitz” (page 20) offers an in-depth look at the latest trends driving ballroom shoe sales.
Once your store’s ready to handle customers’ shoe crises, turn your attention to getting ready for unexpected emergencies. Hurricane Sandy’s recent destructive visit to the East Coast served as a reminder that you can never be too prepared for a catastrophe. “Recipe for Disaster Preparedness” (page 26) offers practical advice to help you figure out where your store’s vulnerabilities lie and how you can protect your business from emergencies such as storms, floods, power outages and more.
Read on and then get moving!
Wishing you a productive month,
* Don’t forget to read our latest Retailer Spotlight! This month we visit Downtown Dancewear in Riverside, CA. This new 500-square-foot shop shares space—and a cash register—with a variety of other vendors. Read about it on page 34.
Break out the sequins: Recital season is just around the corner! From stocking up on tights, shoes and gifts, to crafting your game plan for your on-site pop-up shop, now is the time to position your store for spring performance sales. In this issue, you’ll find all the info you need to achieve your most profitable recital season yet. Here are three steps you can take right now:
1. Plan Your Pop-Up Shop. In our Seen & Heard column (page 26), three veteran storeowners discuss their local recital pop-up strategies. Then, in “Perfect Your Pop-Up Shop” (page 30), visual merchandising expert Leslie Groves offers 10 quick merchandising tips to help you create a polished on-site space. Once your plans are in place, refresh your assortment with the gift items featured on page 14.
2. Help Your Customers Get Performance-Ready. While on-site gift and accessory sales are a great way to boost profits, you must still focus on meeting the needs of your core base of dancers. Find out which products they need for spring performances in “Recital Must-Haves” (page 38). And make sure you have alternatives to traditional costumes by stocking the apparel on page 16.
3. Have Some Fun Along the Way. On February 2, take a little time to enjoy the break between the chaos of The Nutcracker and recital season by celebrating Tutu Day with your customers (2/2 = tutu, get it?). We first learned about this made-up dance holiday last year when a handful of retailers posted pictures of their celebrations on Facebook, and we just had to share the idea with the rest of you! Read “Celebrate Tutu Day!” (page 22) to find out how you can get involved.
Wishing you a spring filled with sales,
As 2013 kicks off, DRN is here to help you hit the ground running. The economy is gradually ticking up, and dance itself is becoming ever more popular thanks to the growing number of dance-based TV shows and movies on the scene. Here are a few ways you can make the most of the new year:
1. Order early and often. Read our “Guide to Ordering in 2013” (page 20) to learn all the latest dealer incentives and deadlines. And don’t forget to peruse the sidebar ”2013 Trend Forecast” to find out which trends leading manufacturers think you should be paying attention to, as you plan.
2. Upgrade your store…and customer experience. Be sure to read “The Closer” (page 28), which explores why dressing rooms are such a crucial part of securing a sale and offers tips and tricks to help you take your own fitting rooms to the next level. Then, check out “Loyalty Goes Mobile And Social” (page 24), which looks at six new, inexpensive digital loyalty programs that can make it easier for you to keep track of shoppers’ buying preferences and reward your most loyal customers.
3. Refine your brand. In “The Color of Success” (page 32), we shine a spotlight on Haute Pink Dance Wear Boutique, a dance apparel store in a rural area of Ontario, Canada, that turned a profit and saw $175,000 (Canadian) in sales its first year in business. Inspired by chains like lululemon and Victoria’s Secret, the shop’s four co-owners have developed a store that has a distinctly fun, inviting vibe that appeals to young competition dancers. The owners’ impressive marketing strategy, which includes everything from a program that spotlights local dancers to strategic partnerships with other independent businesses (Think a custom raspberry flavored drink from a nearby coffee shop called The Haute Pink!), keeps customers engaged. Get inspired!
Wishing you a profitable year,
As consumers gradually reopen their wallets after years of belt tightening, and interest in dance continues to grow, you’re finding ways to get the most out of every sale. You’re probably working harder than ever, but you’re making it work. Bravo! As you gear up for a new year, here are a few ways you can take your business to new heights.
1. Bank on ballerinas. Ballet is considered the basis of all dance education, and for many dance retailers, ballet-related sales are the bedrock of their businesses. You can improve your relationships with customers from this segment by creating unique experiences to encourage them to choose your shop. Read “Beyond the Pointe” (page 26) to find out how three creative retailers are appealing to ballet dancers. Then, check out “The Ballerina’s Tool Kit” (page 14) and “Winter-Ready Warm-Ups” (page 18) to make sure you have all the accessories, warm-ups and knitwear these discerning dancers need.
2. Focus on the details. You may not have the time or the money to redo your entire store, but making a few small changes (such as buying new hangers or redesigning your shopping bags) can have a big impact on the way customers perceive it. To stay fresh and on-trend, read “Finishing Touches for 2013” (page 30).
3. Seek new opportunities. Jayne Dalton-DiPierro, owner of On Your Toes Dancewear in Staten Island, NY, celebrated her store’s 20th anniversary a few months ago. She keeps her business exciting by offering an ever-growing range of side services, including in-store rhinestoning (it attracts both dancers and brides-to-be) and her store’s new “On Your Toes On The Go” program that sends her employees to on-site fittings for local dance classes and cheer teams. (It helps her cater to nearby customers hesitant to cross a toll bridge to get to her store.) Read her story, “Staten Island Success Story” (page 34), and then explore your local community to find new ways to expand your own customer base.
Wishing you happy holidays and a profitable new year,
Each November at Thanksgiving, Americans reflect on the good things in their lives. Even though the country’s overall recovery from the recession has been slow, lately we’ve been seeing plenty of anecdotal evidence that the dance retail market is blossoming. In fact, DRN’s Facebook feed is regularly dotted with notices from dance stores around the country that are growing in a variety of ways.
This month we’re revisiting Attitudes Dancewear, Etc., in Wichita, KS. It has had striking success since we first covered the store eight years ago (DRN September 2004). The shop’s owner Shawna Beth Rea recently doubled her sales floor by moving into a new 2,500-square-foot location. Read “A New Attitude” (page 30) to find out how she built up her business, turning it into a dance retail powerhouse with roughly $400,000 in annual sales.
As you plan your orders for 2013, read “All Jazzed Up” (page 22) to refresh your awareness of the latest innovations in the jazz shoe market. Thanks to new technology and manufacturers’ growing attention to the diverse needs of dancers who wear jazz shoes, you have more stocking options than ever before.
Finally, make sure you’re registered for DRN EXPO Online, which takes place November 9 at 12 pm EST. This free webinar—designed especially for dance retailers—will bring you cutting-edge advice on visual merchandising, social-media marketing and more. You won’t want to miss it! Reserve your space at www.drnexpo.com.
Wishing you a profitable November and a Happy Thanksgiving,