Yesterday, I was shook! In a good way.
For some context - most retailers have a markdown/increase schedule. Typically, once a year (January) new prices are dished out. This is usually the timing that we have to comply with certain vendors (there are oh so many rules) to increase our pricing. You know, because they compete with us instead of working as a unit to sell their products (again, there are some gems out there that are amazing). So, they are allowed to have sales on said products, but we aren't. It's super fun.
However, I'm not typical, so I don't follow that schedule. I like to make my own rules. I have the boutique marked in sections, and do price changes according to MY schedule (unless I HAVE to by said rules). Basically every section gets reviewed FOUR times a year. And by review I mean, not necessarily increased, but decreased if possible.
Also for context, and I promise I'll get to what has me shook...
When I first opened, 2 months before Covid, I was super competitive in pricing - even with the big guys. If I was a dollar more for a shoe, I chalked it up to our always FREE fittings and getting the right size the first time is always a win. I even heard from customers how our prices on xyz were cheaper than another one of the big guys! Go me!
However, since Covid, we have all been dealing with backorders + price increases. It's awful. Especially one of the most horrific increases last fall that I have ever seen. I mean, completely ridiculous. It was painful to do, but again, no choice. I understood it then, but I've been saying for a while, I'm not understanding why the prices are not coming back down. If demand/backorders on MOST things are no longer an issue, why is the pricing not reflecting that?
Well, yesterday ( I told you I would get there)....
I was able to LOWER the prices on multiple of our high sell through products, and I'm not done yet! I didn't think I would see the day! I truly hope this is a sign for things to come, but just know, from one parent to another, I will ALWAYS stay as competitive as I'm allowed to + will continue to use our loyalty app + whatever else I can to save you time and money. Plus, we're pretty fun + cool around here, so if you haven't tried us yet, you should :)
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.
1. Get the Bag! PVC racks break...repeatedly. Metal racks are awesome, but they are no fun in the cold, wind & rain. Just get the darn competition bag!
2. Get an extra pair of tights, BUT you DON'T need to buy them all? What!!!! Don't want to be that mom (AKA Me) with no back up tights when your darling child rips her only pair! So how many you ask??? I'll cover that in tip #5.
3. Make a spreadsheet to keep track of all of their routines! OR, just use mine! Just "make a copy" of the sheet so that you can edit it with your info. It's super easy + I used it for years!
4. Use a garment bag for every costume! Why? You'll see my favorite tip in # 5, but start with just labeling them. Did you know that there's a pocket on the front of most garment bags that is made for an index card??? I didn't either...it's amazing! Hang them up in order when you get there and you're set!
5. Using the spreadsheet, put every single item you need for each routine in the garment bag! It's genius!!! Tights, shoes, hair piece - all. of. the. things. Then, if your child rips their tights, it's not a disaster, because there is a pair of tights with every costume!
If you need help with the spreadsheet, DM me!
P.S. Keep our Linktree handy!
One week from today we turn 3! If you've been along for the entire ride, you know what a HUGE deal this is! We opened our doors on 1/11/2020 (yep, 2 months before Covid). It was a great day with SO much love + support for our new business. We were growing and had so many ideas + dreams. Almost 2 months to the day later, we closed our doors for 2 weeks...then 2 months....then 4.
The wind was out of my sails for sure. Do I buy? How do I pay our bills? Are people ever going back to dance? Will there be recitals? Comps? Pivot, pivot, pivot.
Then came the yellow phase, which almost shut our doors for good. WE were allowed to re-open...but our customers were not. Good times. Never want to relive that again. Pivot, pivot, pivot.
By our 1st birthday we were exhausted, terrified, but hopeful. We knew we were something special. We were different....but would others see us this way?
Birthday #2 was awesome! We were still hanging in there, but dealing with price hikes, shipping delays, backorders....oh, the backorders. Pivot, pivot, pivot.
We literally don't know what a normal year is like. Planning is so hard when you don't have real numbers. So, I do a lot of guessing....sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I don't. I learned to not beat myself up over it. Just learn from it and move on.
Most businesses don't make it past a year....and here we are heading into our third year, still unsure, still pivoting, BUT still loving our little store. We have built SO many relationships. Every single day I have someone I'm excited to see come back into my store...we chat, we catch up....
...and every single day I have someone brand new.....we welcome them...guide them...teach them...
My favorite thing has remained the same. When people from different studios bump into each other and are excited to see one another. Maybe they met at one of our events. Maybe they met through our Ambassador program. Maybe they recognize each other from a photo shoot. Whether we succeed or fail, that is something I will always remember and be proud of.
Thank YOU all for sharing our journey with us, and loving our Little Dance Boutique as much as we do! Cheers to year 3!
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!
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
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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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.
"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
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.