It's National Small Business Week!

It's National Small Business Week!

Time to celebrate!  What's not to be happy about?  When we opened our doors on  1/11/2020, it was a joyous time!  The thought of having our local dance parents not having to travel out of state to try on dance shoes was exciting!  Getting to watch the smiling faces walk through our doors---first time dancers, professionals, teachers and my favorite---new dance moms looking for guidance...it's truly the best! 

Well....then we were closed (sigh).  It truly took the wind out of our sails, but we constantly looked on the bright side and of course, pivot, pivot, pivot.  When we re-opened, we were terrified.  Dancers were still on zoom and I sat many days in my empty store waiting for it to become alive again.  

Now, here we are!  I can hear Elton John's, "I'm still standing" in my head right now!  We still have our bad days, weeks, and months, but we are still here.  Comp season is coming to an end, but recital season within reach.  We still experience shipping challenges and backorders, but we have learned how to manage these issues instead of dread them.  When everything is "normal" it's truly going to be a breeze!  It's going to be normal again right???

So, cheers to us, all of the small business owners that stress out like me everyday, and cheers to all of YOU that help us help you!

Here's how you can support your local small businesses:

  • Buy a gift card
  • Write a great review
  • Like AND follow them on social media
  • Share their businesses on social media
  • Talk about them!  Worth of mouth is the best advertising ever!
  • Become one of their favorite customers!  
Happy National Mom + Pop Business Owners Day!

Happy National Mom + Pop Business Owners Day!

I know it's been a minute since I last had time to blog, but today is a day worth taking that time.  It's National Mom + Pop Business Owners Day!  Why should you care?

  • Our businesses are just awesome!
  • Our economy couldn't run without them!  
  • Small businesses create local jobs!
  • Our businesses are just awesome!!!
  • We are known for SUPERIOR customer service!  It's not just a job to us-these businesses are our babies!  
  • We support the community-whether it's donating to a local sports team or holding a fundraiser in our businesses, we support our community year round!
  • Did I mention that our businesses are just awesome?
  • We build relationships-you're not just a customer ID to us!

Days like today make us stop and think about all of the hard work, long hours + time away from our families...is it all worth it?  For me it is.  I want to build something that my kids and future grandkids will be proud of and hopefully run one day.  So, I work every weekend, almost every hour that I'm awake.  I literally run on Dunkin' (and hopefully soon the new coffee shop coming up the street).  I'm the purchaser, merchandiser, marketing contact, window cleaner, cashier, website developer, AR/AP, janitor, social media marketer + shipper.  I still drive my Dodge Journey +  stress about bills...but, I LOVE my job and I LOVE our LDB family!  I love the feeling of pride I have every single time I walk through the door and the extra few moments that I stand and admire my store in the dark when I close.  Did I mention that small businesses are awesome?  

 

Here's how you can support your local small businesses:

  • Buy a gift card
  • Write a great review
  • Like AND follow them on social media
  • Share their businesses on social media
  • Talk about them!  Worth of mouth is the best advertising ever!
  • Become one of their favorite customers!  

 

 

Happy Competition & Parade Weekend!

Happy Competition & Parade Weekend!

One year ago...

T'was the day before the country shut down.  It was a Friday, just like today.  In the morning, the store was humming with excited dancers heading to competition.  Parents thinking they would get through the weekend unscathed...myself included.  I expected lots of last minute Irish Dancers getting ready for their parades.  I remember having some extra treats and goody bags ready to greet them.  I had my car packed with my daughter's Dream Duffel and would be closing early to head to our first comp of the season.  Keirah, my final Name Game Winner came in, and moments later I did close early....just not to head to comp.  

It's been a long year.  I could go on and on about the longest roller coaster ride I never wanted to be on, but I don't have to.  You all know.  There's nothing new to tell.  

As we approach another competition weekend, I wish every dancer the best dance of their lives.  Some studios have already hit the stage and it's been amazing to see their photos...their unity.  Some studios are hitting the stage for the first time this weekend.  Things may look different, but I hope you find it in yourself to find the good in every moment...even when it doesn't feel the same. 

One of the most surreal moments during this year was when I re-opened and still had Shamrocks all throughout the store.  In honor of our Irish Dancers and that feeling of hope, I'll leave you with one of my favorite Irish Blessings...

 

May your blessings outnumber
The Shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

May luck be a friend to ye,
And be with ye in all yer days,
And may trouble be to ye,
A stranger, always

May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load, may the mist of Irish magic shorten every road, may you taste the sweetest pleasures that fortune ere bestowed, and may all your friends remember all the favors you are owed

IT'S MYTH BUSTING TIME.

IT'S MYTH BUSTING TIME.

Myth # 1 about Little Dance Boutique:  Dancewear stores are always more expensive than online.

The Truth?  Many people assume you'll find better deals online, but the fact is we are comparable if not cheaper than the big A word!  While I can't guarantee that every single product is cheaper, I know that we are constantly checking prices and creating the lowest prices possible.  I hear it time and time again at check out, "Wow!  That's cheaper than A*****!"  

Don't believe me?  See for yourself!

Welcome – Little Dance Boutique

February 09, 2021 — Courtney Little
How to Choose the Right Size when Online Shopping!

How to Choose the Right Size when Online Shopping!

When you're online shopping, we know that choosing the perfect dance shoe, tights and leos for yourself can be a little tricky. To make it easier, here are 3 ways you can ensure you're choosing the right fit & color.

1.  Use specific size guides for each product, NOT just a general sizing guide.  As all of you have surely experienced by now, a size 6 Bloch Jazz shoe is not the same size as a size 6 Capezio Ballet shoe.  I'd bet money, NEITHER of those are the same as a size 6 sneaker!  So, when purchasing a Eurotard Jazz shoe for example, make sure you are using Eurotard's sizing model for that specific jazz shoe.

2.  Read the Reviews!!!  9 times out of 10 there will not only be reviews on how someone loved the product, but there will be comments about sizing!  They are usually truer than the companies own sizing guide.  I swear, it's true!

3.  A picture is worth 1,000 words, but it can be oh so deceptive when it comes to sizing!  How many times have you ordered something online to be disappointed by its actual size when it shows up at your door?  Me too.  How do you combat this?  Read the dimensions!  

Want to skip the hassle and get the BEST fit?  Shop in person!  We are here for you and are adhering to all Covid regulations.  

Does that help? Need a little more help? Don't be shy to send us a message with your specific question and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Shop online here:  Welcome – Little Dance Boutique

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STORY TIME!

STORY TIME!

I don't talk about this often, but the reason why I started Little Dance Boutique is what keeps me going through the tough times (*COUGH* shipping delays, postal strikes and copycats *COUGH*).  So gather round the proverbial fire, children. Here's the story of why I started the company I run today.

I've always known that I was meant to be "in charge".  I've also referred to myself as a Jill of all trades and master of none.  I have SO MANY interests that it's hard for me to concentrate on just one thing.  I went from wanting to be a cartoonist to a coroner on my long list of "what do you want to be when you grow up".  

After 10 years of coaching cheerleading, I entered the dance world.  First as an acro instructor and then as a dance mom (the latter is much harder btw).  When my youngest joined the competition team, I didn't think it would be a big deal.  I've dealt with the competition aspect for years and we always had a cute dance store in the area...but it was gone!  

At about the same time that I was growing painfully tired of my 9-5, I was also growing painfully tired of buying the wrong dance gear for my daughter online.  One of my friends said, "someone should open a dancewear store" and I immediately knew that someone was me!  

Had I known Covid would hit after being open for 2 months, I probably wouldn't have done it, but I finally feel like I'm exactly where I am meant to be.  LDB isn't just a store, not just a company or even a brand.  It's a piece of my history and a community of all of the things that I love...Art, Children, Family, Teamwork & Kindness.  God willing it will be a part of the future with my great great grandkids running things in years to come.

 

February 08, 2021 — Courtney Little
My Takeaways from this Year's Dance Retail Show

My Takeaways from this Year's Dance Retail Show

1.  Zoom is a blessing & a curse

I think I finally got a taste of what it's been like for my daughters to go to school virtually.  The endless pit of black screens with one person talking to you, dogs barking, husbands interrupting, phones ringing.  For one on one meetings, I had to make my top half presentable, while wearing sweatpants.  At least I was half comfy!

2.  I love Eurotard!

I've said it once and I'll say it a million times.  They are THE. MOST. UNDERRATED. BRAND.  From amazing customer service, to being one of the only vendors that doesn't try to become one of your competitors.  They truly care about us little guys.  Not to mention their quality and prices.  Where were all of the top brand companies this weekend anyway?  Very interesting... 

3.  I miss touching products

For the same reason a dancewear store is important, so is a live vendor show.  I want to see in person products I'm going to invest in.  I want to know that my customers are getting what they pay for.  Looking at it on a screen or a video just isn't cutting it.

4.  I didn't impulse buy

Well, I definitely saved some money!  Between the hotel stay and the impulse buying, last year we spent a pretty penny at this show.  This year...I'm saving it for my rent.  #goawaycovid

5.  We are all struggling with the same issues

As much as it saddens me, I'm not alone.  Every retailer voiced the same concerns as I have.  How do we plan?  What if we get shut down again?  Are we going to make it?  I literally don't know what to focus on anymore.  What do we order?  How much do we order?  We don't want to be the store that is always out of everything, but we don't want to be the store that isn't here any longer because we over bought.  

 

Wow!  They really DO rock!!!

Wow! They really DO rock!!!

Don't just take our word for it!  Here's what some of our boxers have to say:

"Omg I love It!! You did such a great job with it she’s going to absolutely love it!!  Thank you!!"

"Good morning! The girls are so excited about their subscription boxes and xxxx won the gift card!! So we will be seeing you soon! Thanks again for putting together such a great box!"

"Merry day after Christmas!  xxxxx loves the box my mom got her!"  

#littledanceboutique xxxxxxx loves her box. #ldbboxthatrocks

How to become a 1st Place Dance Mom

How to become a 1st Place Dance Mom

If you missed my LIVE on Wednesday, here's a quick list of things you need to do NOW to win that coveted Dance Mom of the Year award!  Okay, there really isn't an award, but these tips are going to take YEARS off of your learning curve.  How do I know?  Because I learned them all the hard way.
January 16, 2021 — Courtney Little
This Gives Me "All the Feels" <3

This Gives Me "All the Feels" <3

"Congratulations on your first (of hopefully many more) birthday. You have a wonderful, practical, welcoming little boutique. I love shopping at your store. The selection is awesome and my granddaughters love everything. I have been involved in dance with my daughter and now 2 granddaughters for over 40 years and believe me that’s a lot a lot of tights, shoes, leotards, hairnets and bobby-pins. Your store is so convenient and necessary to our area. Keep the faith that soon all this crap will be managed and we can go back to enjoying the world of dance and I’m sure I’ll be shopping with you and your team for anything needed. Thank you for providing the service and selection that my girls need."

This was in response to the email I sent out last week about us turning one.  It's hard to put into words the way this makes me feel...and not just saying it, but to take the time to sit and put down her thoughts...to go out of her way to make sure I know that we are having a positive impact...it just gives me all of the feels.  What a kind soul...and I thank you so very much.

Sidenote:  I used this picture because my husband actually gave me a stone about this time last year that says "believe".  It sits on my desk to remind me of what I'm capable of.  Thank you too <3

What Every Dance Studio Owner Needs to Hear Right Now

What Every Dance Studio Owner Needs to Hear Right Now

Just like every other small business owner in the world right now, you are facing unforeseen obstacles, changing your business in ways you never imagined, and you are tired.  I know, because I am too.  

We all started our businesses with an idea, a hope, a dream, and worked our tails off to make it a reality.  We admired the fruits of our labors as they became everything we had hoped...and then Covid hit.  For me, it was only 2 months and 2 days after I opened my doors.  Talk about a quick dose of reality!  

The stress, the panic, the unknown...that was and is the worst part.  I, at times, feel like the epi-center of all of the studios.  I may not be the glue that holds you all together, but I am a place of commonality...where your students prepare for the place that they call home...your studio.  

In the months that followed all of the closings, I quickly realized a few things, and I'm going to tell them to you right now...

1. You're Fabulous!  Truly, you are.  Your studio was abuzz with music, instruction, dancing and laughing..and suddenly became a building of silence.  I watched studios turn their classrooms & living rooms into television studios.  I watched Zoom & YouTube classes take the place of live instruction, and don't get me started on the recitals...canceled recitals, outdoor, staggered videos, parking lots became stages...it was incredible.  During an impossible time, you're never going to have every single parent on board, so you must do what is in the best interest of your studio, staff & students.  You adapted, and for that you are fabulous.

2.  Stay Present.  After a few weeks of sleepless nights and driving myself crazy, I implemented a technique that I learned after I suffered a great loss.  Staying present.  Every time I feel overwhelmed, I go outside, take a deep breath, look at the sky and remind myself that right now, everything is okay.  Even today, we are still playing the "what if" game.  What if we close back down?  What if I don't make the right decision?  What if, what if, what if.  Stop that.  What if everything works out and you're even bigger and better than ever?  

Once Upon a Time (before my infamous foot surgery in August), I used to go get massages for my neck & shoulder.  After 1 visit I was hooked.  Not only did my pain subside, but every time I left feeling calm, relaxed and hopeful.  My massage therapist, is not only skilled, but an amazing human being.  When I practice staying present, I bring myself back to that feeling of calm when I would leave her office.  Thank you for that Anastasia Kopceuch.

3.  Focus!  Some of you may not know this, but I'm also a dance teacher and former cheerleading coach.  I've had my share of Tiny Tot classes and getting 25 four year olds to do anything your saying is a challenge.   When they would go off the rails, I would stop and say...Whoosah.  An old co-worker would say it to me when I was ranting about something, and of course told me it was an ancient secret he learned in Russia.  I later realized it was from the movie Bad Boys II LOL.  Either way, it worked.  It was a magical word that would suddenly have them looking at me with their hands out to the side, fingers together, breathing...meditating...focusing....

The reality is that none of us know what's going to happen next.  We could choose to stress about the unknown, or we can choose to focus on the future with clear & hopeful lenses.  Remember why you started this beautiful business of yours.  Remember those first days, weeks and months of everything coming together, but don't get stuck there.  You don't live there anymore.  You are in the present (remember #2).  Focus on the students you have today, not the ones that are gone (for whatever reason).  How can you make their day amazing?  How can you make YOUR day amazing?  You have already overcome one of the craziest years in your life.  Every single day, be grateful for this amazing opportunity and use it to move you forward. Repeat those words..."today is an amazing day of opportunity"... Those tiny dancers are depending on you.

The Little Box that Rocks!

The Little Box that Rocks!

This is probably the most exciting thing to happen to us in 2020...besides that one time I found Angel Soft toilet paper instead of Scott (I'm serious).  I love coming up with new ideas, games, contests and events for the store, but this one...it's my favorite.