When Caitlin Hoffman moved to Colorado Springs two years ago, she noticed something peculiar about the area. Although the city supported some 15 dance schools, dancers had very few options for finding dancewear.
So the young entrepreneur did something few people her age (21) could even imagine. She secured a small business loan and opened a dancewear retail store.
Ballerina Boutique opened the first week during July at a storefront spot inside Sunrise United Methodist Church at 4005 Lee Vance View, near Woodman Road and Rangewood Drive. The store, adjacent to Colorado’s Youth Classical Ballet, offers clothing for many styles of dance, including items such as pointe shoes, ballet slippers, tights, leotards, jazz shoes, pants, tap shoes and other accessories.
Ballerina Boutique is Hoffman’s first venture into retail, but what she lacks in experience she makes up for in sheer knowledge about a dancer’s needs.
After spending her high school years at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, Hoffman moved on to dance professionally for the Tulsa Ballet in Oklahoma. Health issues forced her to exit professional dancing, but she never let go of the lifestyle.
“I always enjoyed shopping for my personal dance wear, things like finding the perfect pointe shoe,” she said. “When I bought my first pair as 10-year old, I wasn’t always happy with the way I was served. Shoe fitting is really technical. You want the pointe shoe to feel like it’s part of your foot, like one unit.”
Once she determined there was a need for such a service and products in Colorado Springs, she noticed she held a true passion for the shopping process.
“You have to know what people want,” Hoffman said. “Being a dancer, I know what people want. I know how they want to feel and look and how they want to present themselves. And I knew I had the skill and the ability, so I just went for it.”
Even the depressed national and local economy couldn’t stand in her way, although Hoffman admits she never took the economy into consideration when deciding to open the store.
“I was confident that people want and need this,” she said. “One store to 15 dance schools is crazy. People usually have choices, but in this case, they didn’t. Business is great. It’s a win-win situation for our customers and the business.”
Four months after filing Chapter 11, Sportsman’s Warehouse Inc. expects to emerge from bankruptcy Aug. 15.
Thanks to a cash infusion from Southern California-based Seidler Equity Partners, Sportsman’s Warehouse garnered approval of its reorganization plan from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The company, which operates a location at The Citadel mall, will continue to operate all 26 of its stores in 14 states.
Midvale, Utah-based Sportsman’s Warehouse specializes in hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor sporting goods.
The retailer’s fortunes looked dim earlier this year. The company announced plans to close 23 locations and sell 15 others to United Farmers of Alberta, B.C. on March 10. It filed for bankruptcy 11 days later.
Colorado Springs Woodcraft Store will donate 5 percent of its gross profits to area schools for a 45 day period beginning Aug. 15. The campaign is designed to help maintain the quality of local school’s woodshop programs.
As part of the promotion, store customers can dedicate the dollar amount of their purchases to one of 20 local middle and high schools. At the end of the campaign, the top five schools will split the proceeds.
Schools that don’t fall into the top five will be awarded woodworking tools and equipment donated by vendors. Call 266-9889 for a list of participating schools.
Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.