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Elite Dance puts young dancers in the spotlight


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“The girls actually dance around the star” and in the starlight, Angie Babb said. The star illuminates a small spot on the hardwood floors that Babb inherited when she moved into the shop at 9962 Swanson Blvd.

The specialty shop has been open nearly two months, and in that short time the owner has taken a crash course in Greater Des Moines dance culture. Babb is acquiring the retail savvy that the mother of a 13-year-old dancer might not anticipate when first entering the business.

Elite Dance Outfitters is outfitted itself to suggest a stage with the hardwood floors, ceilings that expose beams and mechanical systems, all painted black, and tubing that supports overhead spotlights, many casting soft beams from light-emitting diode bulbs.

As the mother of a young dancer, Sami, Babb understood the complexities of shopping for attire and shoes.

What might have come as a surprise was that manufacturers that supply those items can be territorial, to say the least.

Many shoe companies, for example, refuse to allow shops within a three- to five-mile radius to sell the same brand. And many dance instructors are wedded to a single brand of shoe.

Not that Elite Dance Outfitters lacks for shoes or tutus or sleek dresses. Babb said she counters the territorial nature of some of the shoe companies by inviting dance teachers into the shop to see that she offers a competitive product, and she does carry top brands, such as Capezio.

There are 10 to 15 dance studios within three to five miles of the shop, so there is a ready market for Elite Dance Outfitters’ products. “There are new studios opening every year,” she said.

In addition, the store caters to dancing styles, such as salsa and ballroom, that are popular in Greater Des Moines.

She has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but the storefront operation is her focus.

She is learning more about the dance business than she expected.

“It’s been eye opening,” she said.

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