Russian Pointe® Retailer: Dancer's Choice
“When they call, I recognize their voice, I know their name and I know their pointe shoe size,” says Lee. “They just thank me and they don’t go anywhere else.”
Lee says it’s that kind of personal touch and exceptional customer service that has helped her build Dancer’s Choice from a small, fledgling shop to a successful dancewear business with two locations in Orange County.
Lee first opened her store in 2003 after she had spent about 10 years raising her three children. At the time, Lee’s daughter, Josephine, was involved in dance, and there was only one other dance store in the area. So Lee, who was looking for a new challenge, decided to open her own dancewear store.
Lee quickly discovered that the only way to compete with the existing store, which advertised deep discounts, was to offer superior customer service, so she made a point to get to know her customers on a personal level and have a huge amount of merchandise in stock so customers would always find what they were looking for.
She also decided to start carrying pointe shoes. “I researched it a lot. I went to all the seminars and shows and I really concentrated on pointe shoe fittings,” she says. “I think that was my starting point for being more successful.”
Lee began by carrying Russian Pointe® shoes, and today, Russian Pointe®s are one of her most popular brands. “Russian Pointe® are my favorite pointe shoes,” Lee says. “The Jewel collection is the most flattering. It’s very versatile – you can fit most feet: wide, narrow, whatever.”
Lee says she sells the Rubin is her best seller and fits the widest range of feet, and she sells a lot of Sapfir for more tapered feet.
Today, Lee is known as an excellent pointe shoe fitter, and teachers throughout southern California send their students to Dancer’s Choice for fittings. “In our area there are two big Russian schools and they refer everyone to me,” she says.
Lee says developing a strong reputation with dance teachers is key to building your business. Whenever she finishes a pointe shoe fitting, she tells the customer to make sure to show the shoes to her teacher so the teacher knows who did the fitting, and whenever Lee gets new pointe shoes in the store, she calls all of the local dance teachers to let them know.
In 2011, Lee opened a second location in Irvine, CA, located near several dance schools, the University of California Irvine and the 405 freeway. Run by her daughter, Josephine, now 26, the store has already developed a loyal customer base and a strong following on Facebook with more than 1,000 fans.
Lee says, for her, part of the fun of running the business is getting to watch dancers go from little girls to grown women. “I fit them in their very first pair of ballet slippers when they are three years old,” she says. “When they graduate, I just cry when they go off. I supply them all their life, and I’m part of their success. It’s really good to see them grow and be successful.”
Lee makes an effort to go watch her customers’ performances, too. She attends multiple spring recitals, and goes to about six to eight different performances of the Nutcracker each year, going behind stage to greet her customers and see how they are doing in their pointe shoes.
After more than 10 years in business, Lee says she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “I love this job. This is the best thing I ever did.”