Russian Pointe® Retailer: Dance Max

Lorna Handy, owner of Dance Max After working in the dance retail industry for more than 29 years, Lorna Handy, owner of Dance Max, a dancewear retail store in Marietta, GA, really knows her pointe shoes.

“I’ve been selling Russian Pointe®s since way, way back,” Handy says. “The Blochs are boxy and square and not so pretty. I think the Russians look so pretty on so many types of feet.”

Handy, who has also attended several Russian Pointe® pointe shoe fitting seminars at dancewear trade shows, says fitting girls in the right shoe helps dancers perform at their best. She said she recently had a customer drive two hours from Macon to her store in Marietta to be fitted, and when the dancer returned to class, she was suddenly transformed from a gawky teenager into a graceful, confident dancer.

“You can make someone so much happier with the right shoe,” Handy says.

Handy grew up practicing gymnastics, not dance, but throughout her years in the industry, she has become known as an expert pointe shoe fitter. In fact, she trained her manager, Bradley, in pointe shoe fitting, and now Bradley is known as one of the most talented pointe shoe fitters in the southeast.

Handy started her career in dancewear in 1983. She had just graduated from college with a degree in fashion merchandising and began working for Tolbert Yilmaz, who manufactured Eurotard Dancewear leotards and also owned Dance Fashions, a retail store in Roswell, GA.

“I thought I was going to be buying for a big department store,” Handy says. “It was just a job at the time, but it became a career.”

She spent 10 years working for Yilmaz before she took another job fitting pointe shoes and managing Center Stage, another dancewear retail store in Marietta, GA.

Then, a little over a year ago, Handy decided to open her own store with two main goals in mind: offer exceptional customer service and keep a vast supply of inventory.

Handy says customers don’t think ahead when it comes to buying pointe shoes. Instead, they only think to buy new ones once their old ones have died, and often customers get disappointed when the store has to order the shoes they want.

That’s why Handy stocks more than 50 different types of pointe shoes in various sizes, making her store a destination for serious dancers who live even several hours away.

“My biggest goal is to always keep [pointe shoes] on the shelf so they can take them home that day,” she says.