From perfectly-fitting ballet slippers to sparkly accessories, Ballare The Dance Boutique helps athletes of all ages get stage-ready.
Nestled between Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe, the city of Orillia is a great place to shop – unless you’re a dancer. That is, until Christina Wagg-Marwick opened Ballare The Dance Boutique nearly four years ago. Prior to this, the busy mom and her two daughters had to drive nearly an hour to the closest shop that carried speciality dance products like shoes, leotards and accessories. As a life-long dancer and former instructor, Christina knew her community needed a closer option. Though the new business struggled during COVID-19, local residents rallied around the store, which is now thriving. In fact, Christina recently moved to a new location on Mississauga Street, a bustling main road in the historic downtown core. She’s also expanded to carry gear for yoga, fitness and more. The busy owner shares how she became the heart of the region’s dance community.
Rogers Business: How did you get started?
Christina: I was a dancer and a dance teacher, and we just don't have anything in the area. We never had any type of dance store, so it was always in the back of my mind that we needed something in town. So it started out on a whim. I was actually working for my family business at the time and wanted to see if this was something that people actually wanted. I just started out super, super small and wasn't even there full time. It was more of a part-time, casual business that was open. People in the community were incredibly supportive of my business. Now, I’m open 7 days a week and I stay open late during busy seasons or when someone needs it.
Rogers Business: What do you love about dancing?
Christina: I like the way it makes everyone feel, it’s just such a positive thing. Everybody feels good when they're at the studio. It becomes your second home, and the friendships are absolutely incredible.
Rogers Business: What's the best part about your job?
Christina: I love seeing everyone happy, like the little ones getting their first pair of ballet shoes and twirling in front of me with their big smiles. It's so satisfying seeing someone come out of the change room in a new outfit and look so happy. I’ve had so many adults come in as well because they’re just starting a ballet or jazz class and they’re so excited. No matter what age, skill level or size you are, I literally have something for you!
Rogers Business: Is it difficult to find staff?
Christina: It can be extremely hard to find the right person. You have to have a knowledge of dance and the products. I have two people with me right now and they’re wonderful. Sometimes people aren’t sure what they need. Some studios are really specific about what brands or styles are required while others don’t mind as much, so having knowledgeable staff is a must.
Rogers Business: How did you cultivate great online reviews and a loyal clientele?
Christina: To be honest, I just treat everybody that walks in my door with the upmost respect. And I'm kind to every single person that comes in here. I think I learned a lot watching my mom in retail growing up. She was always smiling and made every single person feel special. I try to create a relationship with every single person that walks in, even if they're just browsing.
Rogers Business: What advice do you have for other women hoping to open their own business?
Christina: If you want to do it, don’t hold back. I held back for many years. I wish I had just done what I wanted. Obviously, everyone has the fear of not succeeding, but if it doesn’t scare you, why do it? If you have passion, you can do anything. So just go for it!
Rogers Business: Where can we find your business online?