Dancewear Store Takes Pride In 30th Anniversary
By Space Coast Daily // April 4, 2013
Owner Assists Community Through Business
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Melbourne Dancewear isn’t just a place to pick up tights and a tutu. It’s a place that nurtures and prepares youngsters for a lifetime of dance, from mommy-and-me classes to Broadway.
“Ms. Kitty fitted me for my first pointe shoes and she did the same for my 9-year-old daughter,” said Nicole Cote, owner of Nicole Cote School of Dance in Palm Bay. “Her store has become like a second family to me and my dance kids. You can always count on Kitty.”
Catherine “Kitty” Hatton opened her small business 30 years ago this month, but it is much more than a job.
She’s dedicated to making sure dancers of all levels and interests find what they need and grow into strong, confident performers.
And to think, her whole business began because she couldn’t find a pair of ballet slippers for her daughter, April.
Back in 1983, April was 5-years-old and was preparing for her first ballet class in Melbourne.
When Kitty asked the instructor where she could get ballet slippers, the teacher directed her to a regular shoe store in the mall.
“I thought, what a shame. I remembered how special a trip to the Star-Styled dance shop in Miami was for my mother and I,” Hatton said of her early dancing days. “I wanted to do the same for April and for other children here.”
So, she pulled together enough money to open her store in downtown Melbourne.
With the kind of customer service that is unforgettable, she quickly earned a reputation for not only having a great store and a can-do attitude, but also her love of dancing.
Relate to dancers
It’s no surprise she can anticipate a dancer’s need and relate to them.
Hatton danced from the time she was 6 and performed in Miami before moving to Melbourne with her family in the 1980s.
With an unstoppable spirit, she grew her business from a small shop in downtown Melbourne to 1,540 square feet on U.S Highway 1.
She provides services to the more than 12 dance studios and schools in the county and some in Vero Beach as well.
When figuring out what to do to celebrate her 30th year in business, she wanted to keep things focused on her dancers, not herself. So for the whole month of April, her store is offering 30 days of special sales to thank her customers for their support.
On Saturday, April 6 she’ll host an open house to celebrate the big day.
Dancers and their families are invited to her store (442 N. Harbor City Boulevard in Mebourne) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to enjoy gourmet cupcakes and play JUST DANCE on the Wii. Throughout the open house, there will be giveaways for gift cards and dance merchandise.
Once she’s done celebrating, she’ll likely turn her attention to upcoming dance performances and competitions, her popular Pointe Shoe Decorating contest and preparing to help plan for next year’s Dance for the Cure, an local annual performance that benefits breast cancer research.
It’s her commitment to the community of dancers that stands out.
Hatton collects slightly used dancewear for Brevard Dances and Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa.
Brevard Dance is a program launched by the non-profit Dance Arts Center. It offers free dance lessons to youth residing in low-income areas throughout Brevard County.
Metropolitan Ministries is a similar non-profit from Tampa that provides free classes to children living in homeless shelters in the Tampa area in collaboration with the Patel Conservatory.
Once Hatton has several pairs of shoes and other dance items she donates them to these organizations.
“Kitty is such an asset to this community,” said Sarah Balda, the executive director of Dance Arts Centre.
Balda also performed with the Mosaic Dance Company and Versa Dance Company in Tampa and the United State Embassy commissioned her choreography for the Splash Gala in Kazakhstan.
“She not only offers quality service to my students, but she does so much for the community. And she is always going the extra mile for each and every dancer.” Sarah Balda, executive director Dance Arts Centre
“She not only offers quality service to my students, but she does so much for the community,” she said. “And she is always going the extra mile for each and every dancer.”
Hatton offers everything from special orders to costume design and alternations, at Melbourne Dancewear.
“She designed one of my favorite costumes before I turned professional,” said Heather Hall-Lobley, the 2003 U.S. and World Theatrical Dance Sport Champion who performed professionally before opening Heather’s Dance Studio in 1998. “When I was starting out, she really cared about my growth and confidence as a dancer. She wanted to make sure that I wore the shoe that fit and felt the absolute best, not just ok. She really cares about dancers. I am blessed. She’s like a second mother to me. My children call her Gram Cat.”
When “Gram Cat” isn’t busy serving her customers, you’ll likely find her shuttling her 9-year-old granddaughter to dance class at a local studio or babysitting so that her daughter can attend a dance-fitness class.
“Dancing is just part of my soul,” Hatton said. “I don’t know what else I would be doing if I couldn’t be here for our talented dancers.”
Melbourne Dancewear provides custom fitting and friendly service for dance clothing, shoes and accessories and provides custom design and tailoring for dance costumes. It’s located on 442 N. Harbor City Boulevard in Melbourne. The store’s website is melbournedancewear.com.