Russian Pointe® Retailer: Dee's Dancewear
For the past 37 years, dancers of all ages in the Phoenix metropolitan area have relied on Dee’s Dancewear for all of their dance shoes and dancewear needs.
The store’s namesake is Dee Render, who taught dance for 20 years in Chicago before moving with her husband and three sons to Arizona in the 1970s because her husband, Ray, was suffering from arthritis.
After teaching dance for a few years at local studios, Dee decided to use her knowledge of dance to open a dancewear store in Mesa, AZ, and her business exploded. By 1991, the Renders were running three different stores in the Phoenix area and catering to dancers of all types.
Dee passed away in 2003, and today, two of her sons, Scott and Barry, carry on Dee’s legacy of providing good customer service and quality dancewear to the next generation of dancers.
Jamie Hehl, general manager at Dee’s Dancewear, says part of providing good customer service is carrying the latest styles and responding to what customers are asking for. “You have to change with the times,” she says. “You have to keep everything fresh.”
In fact, when Hehl met Aleksandra Efimova at the Dance Retailer News Expo in Las Vegas a few years ago, she decided to place an order because several girls had come into the store requesting Russian Pointe® shoes.
“I like that you have all the different models that accommodate many different shapes of feet,” Hehl says.
She says she also likes the fact that Russian Pointe® shoes cater to girls with wider feet, because in a warm climate, such as Phoenix, girls often wear flip-flops all year long, which make their feet flatten out and get wider.
“Everything that you are doing in your pointe shoes with developing your arches is completely destroyed when you wear flip-flops,” Hehl says.
In addition to providing good customer service, Hehl says the other secret to Dee’s success has been their focus on building strong relationships with the nearby dance studios. Hehl says her employees regularly call each of the 120 nearby studio owners to ask them who the new teachers are, what types of brands they are requiring and even what trends the studio owners are seeing.
Although maintaining relationships with studios is time consuming, Hehl says it’s worth it, especially because the studios are a vital link to repeat customers.
“The reason we’ve survived and we keep going is … keeping up with what they’re requiring and then they keep sending people to you,” she says. “You can find out everything you need to know by being in touch with your studios.”