Three dance retailers talk about their business reasons for moving their stores—and the bonuses.
Dance retailers move locations for lots of reasons: Many pack up their racks and shelves when the showroom floor starts to get too crowded, while others are forced to move when rent gets too high or the terms of their lease change.
Expanding a store’s square footage can be a huge bonus to a growing business, but downsizing can have its perks, too. When you consider costs, does your revenue-to-rent ratio make sense for your business? If you answered no, it’s likely that a move to a smaller store can help you grow your bottom line.
A new location can sometimes not only solve specific problems but also help you see your business in a new light, which can lead to further growth and success. For Tamryn King and Aleisha Andreasen, owners of Turned Out Dancewear in Highland, CA, a move to a bigger space allowed the women to grow their store’s offerings and sales in one of their smallest categories—character shoes. “There is a huge untapped market in character shoes,” King says. “High schools use them for orchestra, choir and theater productions.” With room to expand their inventory, the storeowners reached out to local high schools and junior high schools and then began working with more schools in farther-away towns and districts. “The move has helped me expand my thinking, beyond just a small boutique, to a larger client base,” King says. And it’s diversified the store’s way of doing business, too: “We now offer on-site sizing for schools and studios for bulk orders,” she says.
Here’s advice from three storeowners who moved to new spaces—and the payoffs the change created.
Adding a New Profit Center
Bellissimo Dance Boutique, Franklin, TN
Why the Move?
Bellissimo wanted to expand the store’s showroom and storage space, says co-owner Patrice Powell. “We’ve had dancers and studios asking for pointe shoes since before we opened, but our previous location didn’t provide enough room for us to carry a pointe shoe inventory. After three and a half years in business, we knew it was time to take the leap,” she says.
Locating the New Space
Staying in the same area was important to Powell and co-owner Kelley Descher. “We literally got in the car and just started driving around the area looking for available storefronts,” she says. When they found a place they liked, they contacted the listing agent directly. “We did this off and on for several months until we found the right size, location and price. Our new storefront is just a half-mile from our old location.”
Favorite Feature: Updated Design
Design is important at this fashion-forward store. “From a design perspective, we love the standout light fixture over our checkout station, as well as our new shoe-fitting area that we customized for optimal storage, organization and display,” says Powell. “From a practical perspective, our increased storage space and break room is wonderful!”
The store now carries two brands of pointe shoes—Suffolk and Russian Pointe. While they are starting off small with pointe shoes, Powell says, their reputation took off from the beginning because of the extensive training their staff went through. Between the two brands of shoes, they have so far been able to fit almost every dancer who comes in.
The new location also has more drive-by traffic and more pedestrians walking by, and it’s right next door to an Orangetheory Fitness, “which is perfect since we have such a great selection of fitness wear in addition to dancewear,” adds Powell.
Tip to Share: Spread the Word
To share their new address, the Bellissimo team used social media, sent e-mails to everyone in the store’s customer and studio databases, put cards with the new address into shoppers’ bags at checkout and hung large posters around the store at the old location. “We had a great relationship with our previous landlord, and he allowed us to keep a large poster with our new address on the door of the old space for three months after we moved,” Powell adds. “It’s also important to make sure your address is changed immediately on your website, all social-media accounts, Google My Business, etc.”
Making Room for New Inventory
Turned Out Dancewear, Highland, CA
Why the Move?
In January 2018, after three years in business, co-owners Tamryn King and Aleisha Andreasen realized they were outgrowing their space. They were running out of storage space for their inventory as well as places to display it on their sales floor. This was a problem because they wanted to expand their offerings, particularly in character shoes.
Locating the New Space
“It’s actually in our same complex,” King says. “Our landlord suggested it. However, we had had our eye on it since we moved in, because it is designed so well for retail.”
Favorite Feature: Larger Windows
Visibility was an issue in their old space, according to King, but now the front windows are the store’s best feature. “We love how much more window frontage there is,” she says. “I now am able to do two window displays instead of just one.”
Tip to Share: Check Your Contracts
“Make sure to have a real estate lawyer or someone who specializes in business law look over your lease before signing,” says King. They worked with Best Best & Krieger in Riverside, CA. “It is worth the money. And watch out for any common-area maintenance fees and hidden fees.” Retailers looking for a space in a shopping plaza may find that location offers many benefits, but they are also more likely to incur additional costs for upkeep of the property. (For more on leases, see “What You Don’t Know About Your Commercial Lease Can Hurt You.”)
Dealing With a Rent Hike
Nathalie & Co. Dancewear, Phoenix, AZ
Why the Move?
In late 2017, Nathalie Velasquez expanded from an 800-square-foot store located in an outdoor shopping mall to a 3,400-square-foot store. After only 13 months she was forced to move, when the building’s ownership changed and rent was drastically increased. “We had no choice but to move again,” she says.
Locating the New Space
The additional square footage had allowed Velasquez to expand her business model, adding a new revenue stream by renting space for birthday parties and private events. And she had also added to her product lines by offering pointe shoes and doing pointe shoe fittings. She didn’t want to give any of that up.
Since downsizing was not an option, Velasquez was willing to wait for the right space. “We had no location from February to April 2019,” she says. “We did trunk shows in those three months. We cater to our studios, and we said, ‘We’ll come to you.’”
In May, Nathalie & Co. moved into a 4,100-square-foot location that has a spacious back room that Velasquez rents out for different events, and several smaller rooms where she can display dancewear, shoes and other products.
Favorite Feature: A Homelike Space
While the new store is even larger than her former space, Velasquez says that lower ceilings make it feel less exposed, and the separate rooms allow for a homier atmosphere. The store occupies what was once an office space, and the layout is one of her favorite features. “In the front we have four small rooms that divide the place into sections,” she says. Those include a room each for fitting rooms, shoes, kids’ wear and super-basics, like tights and nude undergarments. “Everything is private, exclusive and intimate,” she says.
Tip to Share: Stay Positive
While disheartened that she had to move again, Velasquez says that she was confident that it wouldn’t disrupt her growth. Keeping a positive mind-set helped to keep her business going during the months she was looking for a new space. “This time I was confident our customers would stay with us,” she says. “We had good momentum on social media, and we did a 90-percent-off clearance before we moved. That was our best January in history.”
Libby Basile is a former editor of Dance Retailer News who writes frequently on retail merchandising and displays.