First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. This has been a time of, at best, enormous change, and at worst, fear, uncertainty, or loss. Each state and each city is experiencing this pandemic differently, yet we are all in this together. In Illinois, we have just launched into Phase 3 of our reopening process, which will allow Allegro to open the doors to our retail stores once again, with new safety precautions and operational limitations in place. Like so many others, Allegro has been hit hard by the current crisis and we are now fighting to survive. The entire Allegro team had to be furloughed during our closure, but we remain a team nonetheless, and hope to be able to come together again as the business rebuilds over time. For now, our small team of managers are so happy to be able to welcome you back into our space.
Allegro is a small, dancer-run, local business that has been proudly serving the Chicagoland dance community for over 13 years. Allegro has employed over 100 dancers since we began in 2007, allowing them to continue to pursue their careers or education in dance, while keeping a job that supports and understands their passion. Our stores serve thousands of dancers from hundreds of dance studios in the Chicagoland area and beyond, and because of our reputation for professional pointe shoe fittings, dancers from all over the country now visit us for our expertise. Part of our mission is to give back to our community, and we have done so since the very beginning by providing sponsorships and donations to non-profit dance companies, youth companies, as well as dance programs that serve populations with limited access to dance or physical disabilities.
Our company has always been “dancer-first,” putting the needs of the individual dancer over those of the business. We will continue to do so, and will be shifting several aspects of our business in order to adapt to the post-pandemic world of small business in general, and dance retail in particular. Dance retail, even in normal times, is a challenging labor of love. Like so many others within the arts community, we do what we do not because we are driven by profit, but because of our dedication to this art form and to those who are a part of this world. Due to the low margins of the products we sell, high overhead, lengthy and costly sales process of fitting a dancer for a single pair of pointe shoes, and overall difficult nature of our business, we now must change in order to adapt to our new reality. The Chicagoland area has already lost two other independent dance retail stores due to the pandemic.
The word of the moment in small business right now has been “pivot.” That is, what can businesses do to change the way they are operating to survive both the lasting economic impact of the pandemic, as well as the new sales landscape we’ve entered into? At Allegro, we will be making several changes over the next few weeks to help us survive and serve you better:
- First and foremost, we will strictly follow all guidelines to protect our dedicated staff as well as our customers as we begin to resume normal operations in our stores
- We will be unveiling a new website which will allow for more products, additional services, and a much improved online shopping experience
- We have implemented a temporary Studio Relief Program through July 31, 2020 in which we will donate 10% of sales back to the dance studio that our customers are from, for those studios that have signed up
- We are improving our offerings for in store pick-up and contactless order pick-up
- We have started offering our new Telepointe service, providing virtual pointe shoe fittings for dancers that are unable to visit our stores
- We will be introducing a new loyalty program this summer that can be used both in store and online (finally!) to allow for better and greater rewards to our most loyal shoppers
- We will be introducing our new pointe shoe subscription service to dedicated dancers who are utilizing several shoes per month but do not require regular pointe shoe fittings
- We have teamed up with another local business, Midwest Event Solutions, in order to help dance studios and companies with performance solutions during this time of social distancing (please email firstname.lastname@example.org for information)
Since our opening, we have offered a regular 10% discount on all purchases to students of many studios that have signed up with us as partners. We realize now that this 10% is likely the difference between Allegro surviving or closing permanently. We now, for the first time ever, come to you, our loyal customer, and ask for your support. We are asking each customer to allow us to suspend our Duets Studio discount in an effort to ensure our business can survive this pandemic so that a year from now, and beyond, we can still exist to serve you. However, if you or your family have also been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, please let us know and we will maintain your 10% discount in our system.
I have been overwhelmed by the positivity and resilience of our team during this crisis and will be forever grateful for the support we have received from many of our customers during our closure. Thank you all for choosing to shop local, and for your continued trust and support in the dancers at Allegro Dance Boutique. Stay strong, stay positive, and keep dancing.
Owner, Allegro Dance Boutique