The dance studio industry in Springfield has survived the recession as the economy improved, but the retail arm of the industry never fully recovered.
That’s why Bodies in Motion, 2210 E. Main St., the only area dance apparel store, is closing after nearly 10 years in business. Owner Thalia Laventzis said the store will close as soon as the items are liquidated. Currently, everything is on sale.
“The dance community in Springfield has supported me the last 9.5 years. I have great customers, and I’m sad to not see them anymore,” said Laventzis. “There wasn’t enough business in this area to sustain it.”
Laventzis studied fashion merchandising, and she said her dream was to have a store. Her daughter is a dancer, so she chose that industry to cater to.
“The biggest challenge I had was the competition from Internet buying,” Laventzis said. “With the Internet companies, a lot of them buy in such massive quantities that they get a really good price and they can sell it for less than what I could buy it for wholesale.”
Laventzis is the only retail store in town, although some studios also sell their own material, she added.
Area dance studios, such as Gary Geis Studio and Ohio Performing Art Studio, do have students who buy from Bodies in Motion. But directors from both acknowledge that many increasingly turn to the Internet for shopping.
“It might affect some of my students, but nowadays with shopping online and catalogs, it’s hard for small shops to make it,” said Scot Davidge, OPAI director. Laventzis’ daughter dances at his studio.
Gary Geis Studio’s Mark Cummings used to be in dance retail and says Bodies in Motion came into town right as Internet retail was taking off.
“I used to own a dance store, but I got out of retail 18 years ago,” he said. “I could see those companies that sold dance wear selling to big warehouses.”
While the retail sector is hurting, both dance studios have been recovering from the recession.
“The first year (of the recession) we didn’t grow, but we have been growing ever since,” said Cummings, managing director of the school. “We had a 10 percent increase in income since last year and an increase in students.”
Cummings said that during the recession, the number of students dropped slightly to about 250 students, but now its back up to the usual 300. OPAI also has enrollment of up to 330 students now.
“Since those two years when the economy went doo-doo, we kind of took a dip and we’re back running now,” he said. “My business operates on expendable income, when the economy went down, we didn’t have that. And now we have that again.”
OPAI differs from Gary Geis Studio in that it also offers theater, piano, voice and yoga. Gary Geis did not suffer much during the recession.
“Mostly the parents were willing to tighten the belt on some things when it comes to kids as far as dance classes are concerned,” Cummings said. “After that first year (of the recession), dance classes went way up.”
For more information about Bodies in Motion, call (937) 322-6436.
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