“Ten percent of the stores I visit are ‘dance stores,’ while the other 90 percent are ‘stores that sell dance products.’” A rep for a major manufacturer whom I met at a recent trade show made this startling comment. He explained that most of the stores he sees lack atmosphere and unique identities—you could swap out the pointe shoes and leotards for cell phones or appliances and the shopping experience wouldn’t change. Meanwhile, the exceptions to the rule have distinct looks and vibes that envelop you the second you walk in the door.
During that same trade show, a veteran storeowner told me that even though the retail world has undergone many dramatic changes in the past several years (see: recession, growth of online retail, etc.), brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going away. However, “mediocre retail will not survive much longer.” In other words, the bar is higher than ever. Today’s most buzzed-about retailers (Warby Parker, Lululemon, etc.) have captured customers by providing unique on-brand experiences that translate seamlessly both online and in store. Customers demand engaging environments, a breadth of inventory and competitive pricing. Your challenge is to find a way to be indispensable. You already have the products, the knowledge and the passion. Now, you need to take all of that and build it into an exciting shopping experience.
To get you started, “Mastering the Meet-and-Greet” (page 22) will help you plan a successful event, during which you’ll connect customers with a dance idol and draw in extra traffic. (One recent event featuring “Dance Moms” stars pulled hundreds of customers into a Tampa, FL, store on a single afternoon!) Then, turn to “Storefronts: Beyond Window Displays” (page 32) to get inspired by several dance stores that are making immediate and lasting impressions on customers. You’ll be amazed at what a
difference a few simple decorative choices can make!