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Retail on pointe

History: Dance-costume store has rich history in the Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: October 13, 2010 8:30 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Dancer Monique Ratto, 13, tries out new pair of pointe shoes with a ballet barre at dancewear specialty A Chorus Line in Santa Clarita. A Chorus Line has a rich history in the Santa Clarita Valley, as it was once owned by Reena Newhall, wife of Tony Newhall.

A Valencia dancewear store on Cinema Drive is a part of Santa Clarita history, and so is the family behind the business.

A Chorus Line originally opened in 1983 in a strip mall very near its present location. Santa Clarita would not incorporate as a city until four years later.

Local dance teachers, frustrated by the lack of dancewear accessories in the valley — and frequent commutes to Hollywood to purchase quality dance supplies — opened the first store in 300 square feet of space.

As the business grew, the specialty retailer moved three times until it landed in the partially tenant-owned building where it is today.

A family-owned business, A Chorus Line outfits young people for dance recitals and serves the college and performing-arts community. The retailer carries dance shoes and costumes from Capezio, Bloch and Leo’s.

Jana Einaudi, manager of A Chorus Line, said the store buys dancewear from smaller companies that supply the theater industry or specifically support small retailers.

Actively serving 2,500 current customers requires a bit of juggling on the part of employees — all local residents — who provide personal service putting costumes together, giving expertise advise on the fit of dance shoes and on occasion, making appointments with customers.

Einaudi works alongside her sister Beth in the store.

Shopping for quality
Einaudi is a big advocate of small business and makes a good case in support of shopping locally. Money spent locally keeps local residents employed, and in turn, those people have money to spend at other local businesses she said.

When Einaudi refers to supporting local businesses, she means hyperlocal.

She tries to avoid big-box stores when shopping personally. Even though the chain stores are doing business in the local community, not all of their employees live locally, Einaudi said. And the money the stores make from sales go back to the corporate headquarters often located in another state.

Einaudi went out of her way when replacing appliances in her home. To find what she wanted, she shopped at Appliances Unlimited in Newhall

“They sold us the appliances we wanted for the same price as Lowe’s,” Einaudi said.

A Chorus Line also works with suppliers that cater to small retail businesses. Einaudi said Bloch goes out of its way to support small businesses, even to the point of pricing an item in such a way that a large chain could not sell the merchandise for less. Of course, this strategy puts pressure on the Bloch brand as well.

Einaudi said a customer came into her store one day complaining that a pair of Danskin tights had worn out too fast. She was looking for a new pair of tights. When asked where the tights were purchased, the customer said she bought them at one of the big-box stores.

“The problem is that you can buy tights with the Danskin label, they aren’t of the same quality as buying Danskin tights in a dancewear store,” said Einaudi. “The tights are often made of lesser quality for the big-box stores so that shoppers think they’re getting a bargain. But they aren’t.”

Internet doesn’t build schools
Einaudi also five a buyer-beware caution: one doesn’t always know if the item they’re buying at bargain is the same quality — it may even be counterfeit. Some merchandise just doesn’t lend itself to shopping outside of a brick and mortar store.

“You can’t buy a pointe shoe (ballet shoe) online and expect it to fit properly without injuring the foot,” said Einaudi.

Local history
Einaudi and her sister Beth both danced for years when they were younger. The sisters grew up in the store because it was owned by their mom, Reena Newhall.

They owned three danced studios where she taught dance. She later met and married Tony Newhall, former publisher of The Signal. Tony is the son of Scott and Ruth Newhall, both journalists and also one-time owners and publishers of The Signal. The Newhall family founded Newhall Land & Farming.


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