DRACUT — A wreath made of pointe shoes and a dress form wearing a T-shirt and bright pink tutu greet those who enter The Dance Shoppe.
Sunlight pours into the space and everywhere you turn are items for youth dancers’ needs: leotards, ballet shoes, tights, and even a small section for male dancers.
Co-owners Chelsea and Brandon Korona of Dracut held a grand opening last Saturday for the new store at 1807 Bridge St., Unit 9 in Dracut.
“I hope they just feel comfortable and they enjoy their time here,” Chelsea, 28, said last week. “We’re really emphasizing that we want everybody to leave here happy, so if we don’t have a product specifically that they want, we’ll work on ordering it.”
It’s been a whirlwind year for the Koronas since coming up with the idea for The Dance Shoppe. Chelsea, who has been dancing since she was 4 years old, was working as a paraprofessional for Tyngsboro Public Schools and teaching tap and jazz on the side. She decided she didn’t want to stay in the school system, but also wasn’t sure teaching dance full-time was best.
“And so I figured, well Dracut has a ton of studios in town, so they could definitely use a store,” Chelsea said.
The store is now open and Chelsea said they carry well-known brands such as Russian Pointe, Gaynor Minden, and Sansha to name a few. She also sells colorful tutus she makes herself.
Brandon, 27, helps Chelsea manage the store when he’s not working at his full-time job as a supply chain planner at BAE Systems. He’s an Army combat veteran whose leg was severely injured in 2013 by an IED in Afghanistan that killed one of his brothers in arms. Brandon’s lower-right ankle was broken and so were most of the bones in his lower-left leg. Brandon, a Purple Heart recipient, later opted to undergo an amputation of his lower left leg.
Brandon said he helps his wife with the business aspects of The Dance Shoppe.
“With this business, it was kind of scary just going into it because you don’t know if you’re going to be successful,” he said. “There are other dance shops around us, but our area is just way more accessible than people in Dracut having to hit the highway and go up to Salem or go down to Chelmsford.”
Unlike his wife, Brandon is by no means a dancer, though he’s been thrust into the dance world.
“I got rid of my left foot for that reason,” he joked.
Estelle Gooden, Chelsea’s mother, said she feels there’s a definite need in Dracut for a store like The Dance Shoppe.
“I’m just very proud of both Chelsea and Brandon. They’ve been through a lot, with Brandon being wounded in Afghanistan, losing his leg and they’ve had a lot of challenges on their plate,” Gooden, also of Dracut, said. “They have lived through a lot in a short amount of time, I think, for a couple.”