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Retailer taps into 30 years of history

A Chorus Line celebrates three decades in business

Posted: August 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.

From left, Jana Einaudi, Reena Newhall and Beth Culhane display some of their merchandise at A Chorus Line in Valencia on Tuesday.

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Showcased on the corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Cinema Drive, a small business celebrated its 30th anniversary in Santa Clarita this month.

Named after the 1970s Broadway hit, A Chorus Line opened its first store in response to manufacturers who said they would not sell dancewear directly to the three dance studios owned by Reena Newhall.

With some 500 students at Reena’s Dance Studio locations, Newhall, the entrepreneur, opened the retail store solving the problem of having to make repeated treks down to Hollywood solely to buy dancewear.

“Now I’m seeing kids with their kids, and kids with their grandchildren,” Newhall said. “It’s nice. Sometimes the kids’ faces look like their parents.”

The business grew beyond the community of studio dancers, however. As word spread, the store began stocking merchandise requested by dance students from other schools, including Cal Arts and COC.

We also found that much of our dancewear could be used as costumes for Halloween, so we added costume sales and rentals, Newhall said.

“Before we knew it, this little store — established to assist Reena’s Dance Studio — had become a real business,” she said.

Family-owned and operated, today the store is managed by Newhall’s daughters, Jana Einaudi and Beth Culhane. And along the way, it has picked up commercial accounts like Princess Cruises, which relies on the retailer to supply many of the shoes for dancers’ live shows on the cruise ships.

As coordinator of show productions onboard Princess Cruises for the past five years, Patrick Garcia said he discovered A Chorus Line after tiring of driving to Hollywood suppliers or haggling with vendors to fill orders on a timely basis.

“I love working with them,” Garcia said in an earlier interview. “Now I can just order what I need and get it quickly. A Chorus Line is easy to work with and communicate with.”

When film industry people from Los Angeles, working at the local studios, discovered the store and realized they didn’t have to drive back to L.A. for goods, they came in and bought props and dancewear as well, Einaudi said. A Chorus Line helped supply the TV production for “Sons of Tucson.”

“We’ll get corporate clients from the local studios that need to do a special scene,” she said. “Production people come in to buy props to go with a scene.”

Grateful to loyal and new customers who have helped the store survive and prosper over the years, A Chorus Line spent the month of August holding different promotions every day of the month from handing out prizes, to hosting a Ballerina story time.

“It’s been fun with all the little kids dressed up in tutus at story times,” Newhall said.

And this time, aware of the role small business plays in their success, the manufacturers lined up to support the retailer.

“They’ve seen so many small businesses go out of business that they felt it was great to see a store that had been in business for 30 years,” Einaudi said.

Einaudi has been really impressed with the good relationships the store has developed with the manufacturers that have supplied it for so long, she said. For instance, the dance store Bloch sponsored a ballet Pointe Shoe seminar for local dancers, and Capezio and Leg Avenue stepped up with specials on their dancewear merchandise.

A Chorus Line has come a long way from when it opened its first store in 300 square feet of space in a strip center in 1982 – five years before Santa Clarita became a city. Outgrowing its space, the specialty retailer moved three times before it opened 15 years ago in the partially tenant-owned building where it resides today. Now the store has 10 employees.

“A lot of our customers appreciate the opportunity to shop locally,” Einaudi said. “And they understand if people want to have local jobs they need to support local businesses.”


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