Russian Pointe® Retailer: Assemblé Dancewear
Ginger and Noel Amend, a husband and wife team who own Assemblé Dancewear in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock, CO, have been in the dance retail world for more than 30 years, so together they’ve seen just about every type of dance shoe that’s ever been made.
And when it comes to pointe shoes, both say they like Russian Pointe® the best.
“We’re just really frustrated with Capezio and Bloch. We call those the Fords and Chevys of the shoe world. We call (Russian Pointe) the Mercedes,” says Noel Amend.
About 80 percent of the pointe shoes the Amends sell are Russian Pointe®, and both Ginger and Noel say that the Russian Pointe® shoes stand out for their quality as well as their design.
Both are partial to Russian Pointe®’s Jewel series. “We like the cut of the box… we like the flat profile, we like the amount of the taper,” Ginger says. “It’s just a very aquiline, elegant looking shoe.”
“The Rubin is probably my favorite shoe right now,” Noel says. “We’re getting really good feedback from the shoes. It seems to have a long service life.”
The Amends’ story goes back to 1979, when Ginger owned a dance studio in a small town in Wyoming. At the time, there were no dancewear stores close by, so Noel and Ginger decided to open their own. After 15 years, the couple moved to Colorado, where Ginger had gotten a job as an attorney, and they opened a new store in their new state. After a few years, Ginger gave up practicing law, and now the couple runs two stores about 45 minutes apart.
Part of the Amends’ success has been Noel’s reputation as an expert pointe shoe fitter.
“People always raise an eyebrow and say, ‘And how do you know how to fit pointe shoes?’” Ginger says.
Although Noel was never a dancer, he saw what dancing did to his wife’s feet because she was never professionally fit in pointe shoes, so he has taken every training seminar available to learn all he can about how to fit dancers' feet properly. He spends 90 minutes in each initial pointe shoe fitting, examining the dancer’s foot and providing education about how she can care for her feet, shoes and even toenails to prevent injury.
“It’s so gratifying to know that I’m saving feet,” he says.
The ability to specialize in pointe shoes is something that has helped Assemblé Dancewear stay profitable in the Internet age, when so many customers can find products online for cheaper. Unlike dancewear clothing or ballet slippers, which can be ordered through catalogues, pointe shoes are one item that must be fitted in person.
But Ginger says retailers who are considering adding pointe shoes as a category need to weigh their decision carefully. Since pointe shoes are more expensive than many other items, retailers can make a larger profit on each sale. But on the other hand, you need to have a lot of different styles and widths on hand to be able to fit each customer who comes in the door.
Ginger says they evolved from carrying many different brands to focusing only on a few that they like, but carrying more sizes and styles in those brands. “We found over the years it was better to fine tune our inventory,” she says. “We do it big and we try to do it right.”