Russian Pointe® Retailer: Brandywine Dance Shoppe

Brandywine Dance Shoppe Dance has always been the love of Diane Abrams' life.

She began taking ballet at age 6, and continued dancing all throughout high school and college. But after graduating with a degree in business administration, Abrams left the world of dance and got a job in the computer science field, something she realized she quickly hated.

Then, in 1985, when she was 28, a tiny shop opened up in her hometown of Wilmington, DE. “I thought, ‘You know what? I need to buy that dance shop,” she says.

So she took out a loan and opened Brandywine Dance Shoppe. “Everyone thought I was crazy – my dad, my parents’ accountant,” she says. “I just kind of went with my gut feeling.”

Over the years, Brandywine has continued to grow, and Abrams has moved her store twice to expand to larger locations.

Today, Brandywine Dance Shoppe is a family affair, with her husband and two daughters – a freshman and a senior in high school – helping out during their busiest time of the year.

Abrams’ daughters – who both take ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical – help keep her merchandise on-trend by telling her about all of the latest styles dancers are wearing these days. Plus, one of Abrams employees also works at a gymnastics studio, giving Abrams an inside track on what the most popular looks are in gymnastics wear.

What the store is best known for, however, is their wide selection of pointe shoes, which includes models from six different brands of manufacturers. Of all the brands, Abrams says Russian Pointe® is their most popular.

“I like the variety that they offer,” Abrams says of Russian Pointe®. “I can change up a shank, I can change up a vamp. It’s just the huge variety of options available.”

Abrams says today’s customers expect pointe shoes to fit like a glove and be comfortable from the first time you put them on – very different from when she was a dancer in the 1970s when there were few pointe shoes to choose from and you assumed pointe shoes were going to be painful.

In fact, Abrams’ first pair of pointe shoes were Pavolwas from Capezio, a narrow, slender shoe that was not good for her wide feet with bunions. But Abrams didn’t know any differently.

“The dancers are so much savvier today,” she says.

Despite having danced herself for years, Abrams the process of learning how to fit someone properly in a pair or pointe shoes is an art that has taken her years to perfect.

“It didn’t happen overnight. It takes time,” she says. “I can’t imagine anyone selling pointe shoes or having a dance shop who didn’t have experience.”