Why Small Businesses Matter
Shop small, do big things for your community
Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!
You're IT Fred Astaire Dance Studio!
Four questions with Chris Whitten, who owns Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Ridgefield with his wife, Kristyn (shown in photo).
Why did you! start your business?
Kristyn and I have been professional partners for over six years now, and I was an instructor at this location for almost five years before the studio was sold to us in December of 2019. Running a dance studio was a plan we both had and the Ridgefield studio is a location we fell in love with. It’s a place filled with people we have come to know and adore. We are living our dream; passing on the opportunity to own Fred Astaire in Ridgefield was not an option!
What is your best-selling product/service?
Feeling! A misconception about what we do, helped somewhat by modern TV shows, is trying to shoehorn people into some distorted view of what dance should be about. What we offer to people is the opportunity to make of this activity exactly what they desire to get out of it. People come through our doors for a myriad of reasons (that they don’t necessarily admit the first time we meet). For some, it’s the thrill of seeing how much they can learn and how good they can be, whether for personal gain or through competition. For others, it’s about the community and social aspect of ballroom dance. Either way, the emotional value of time with us is precisely the takeaway we seek to give everyone! Our agenda is to enrich the lives of anyone and everyone associated with us. This is not corporate “feel-good” speech; it is the dogma we operate by daily.
How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?
Tusk and Cup, just up the road, provides more coffee than we should dare to acknowledge! A good number of our business meetings have taken place within the delightful ambiance of The Barn Door, accompanied by delicious drinks and their scrumptious cuisine. MyCleaners (right next to us) has saved my attire emergencies more times than I deserve, and they have taken perfect care of everyone we have referred to them for dry cleaning, alterations, clothing and shoe repair, etc. Of course, this heavily includes dancewear! And finally, not to be left as an afterthought by any means Bernard’s! Our studio has had a number of dinners and dance events at Sarah’s Wine Bar (upstairs from Bernard’s). The food is absolutely magnificent and the hospitality is nothing short of stupendous.
Have you "reimagined" your small business?
As is to be expected with any transition of ownership, we made some changes, especially in modernizing the approach to our work. The past year’s events have shown that with enough drive to adapt, our lessons can transcend the immediate need for in-person meeting, thus we found some success in virtual instruction. Some of our competitive events have occurred online either via live video, or by pre-recorded dances. Our latest regional event was composed entirely of pre-recorded dances, which we put together in a professional video editing program not terribly unlike a feature film. We featured multiple dancers on a screen at a time, much like a normal in-person event, and streamed the final product online while simultaneously premiering within the studio for the viewing pleasure of our clients.
While going forward this will not be an optimal method of doing our work, it stands to reason now that the instruction and participation of our clients can be conducted even during times of travel, thanks to the implementation of modern technology
Fred Astaire Dance Studios is located at 15 Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield. Visit Fred Astaire Dance Studios online here, and make sure to check out their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages as well!
HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!