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 :)
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!
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
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.