Russian Pointe® Retailer: Releve Dance-Wear
When it comes to pointe shoe fitting, Tamara Shewmaker, owner of Releve Dance-Wear in Elk Grove, CA, has a secret weapon: her husband, Jack.
The vice president of a construction company, Jack has been involved in the building industry for more than 27 years, but on nights and weekends he does pointe shoe fittings at the store.
“He comes at it from a construction and engineering background,” Tamara explains. “He looks at the foot and the shoe like a working machine and they have to work together.”
Although Jack has a phobia of touching feet, he has become known throughout the area as an expert pointe shoe fitter, thanks to training he received from Russian Pointe®.
When Tamara and Jack first opened the dancewear store in November 2009, Jack attended the Russian Pointe® Pointe Shoe Fitting Seminar in Chicago, where he learned how to properly assess the shape of a dancer’s foot and how to find the right length, width, vamp and shank for each person’s foot.
Today, Jack is the main pointe shoe fitter at the store, and customers will often drive from miles away to have him personally fit them in shoes. “He’s gotten a lot of grief from his brothers and his co-workers, but he loves it,” Tamara says.
Tamara says she was inspired to open Releve because her 16-year-old daughter is a competitive dancer and it was frustrating to have to drive all the way to Sacramento to buy dance shoes and supplies.
Before they opened the store, Tamara surveyed scores of parents and dance teachers about what they were looking for in a dancewear store, and many people requested Russian Pointe® shoes, because the only store that carried them was more than an hour away.
When it came time to select a brand of pointe shoes to carry, Tamara said the decision was easy because Russian Pointe®’s customer service was superior to all of the other brands she contacted.
“We have really appreciated not only the shoes, but the training, the trunk shows and everything,” she says. “I really feel like my hand was held with Russian Pointe®. They guided me every step of the way.”
Tamara says Russian Pointe® are great because of their quality and wide variety of styles and models. “It’s one brand, but we have so many different shoes within that brand,” she says.
In addition to Russian Pointe®’s training and support, part of Releve’s success has also been Tamara’s knack for store design and merchandising.
As a former home stager who helped people re-organize their homes to make them more appealing to buyers, Tamara knows that simplicity is key to good design. Her store is decked out with simple, blond wood and black furniture, and the walls are neutral, rather than bold.
“Let your merchandise be your color,” Tamara advises. “Let the merchandise sell itself.”
The store windows are framed by large black curtains to make it feel like a stage, and at the front of the store, an old dining room table is used to display the newest merchandise and draw people inside.
Tamara organizes merchandise by color and aims to keep the racks open, rather than packed with merchandise, allowing people to browse easily. “I try to keep everything very neat and tidy at all times,” she says.