Anyone in the Greater Boston Area who has recently shopped for pointe shoes - the beautiful, specially made shoes that allow ballerinas to dance on the tips of their toes - knows that finding a pair nowadays requires patience, perseverance, and luck.
Availability is inconsistent at best, and some brands have been back-ordered for what seems like forever. Whether it’s due to the supply chain crisis or the conflict in Ukraine, pointe shoes are very hard to find. Especially the ones made in Russia.
Local dance retailers are still recovering from product shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the pointe-shoe-shortage makes their job even harder.
“First Covid, now this,” said Linda Sands, owner of The Dancers Closet in Nashua, NH.
In spite of the added challenge, Sands said that she and other local retailers are hard at work crafting creative solutions to help their customers find pointe shoes.
At The Dancers Closet, Sands is ordering and stocking shoes from brands she doesn’t normally carry (and are easier to obtain right now), such as Suffolk and Capezio.
She also shared that she and other retailers collaborate on a private Facebook group where they “move shoes around” in order to get them to eager customers.
Eve Jacques, owner of Damien’s Dancewear in Chelmsford, MA, has become accustomed to finding creative solutions to the many problems retailers have recently faced. She said that during the pandemic, she held a pointe shoe fitting in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot.
Jacques said that she is working together with retailers from all over New England, and that it’s been a very positive experience to be able to help one another.
Theresa S. from Concord, NH, has been dancing en pointe for many years, so she knows her exact sizes in several different shoe brands. After trying a few online sources, she finally had some luck finding shoes by calling multiple local retailers.
Kimberly P., from Portsmouth, NH, said that she is having trouble finding pre-pointe shoes for her daughter. Kimberly joined The Pointe Shoe Exchange group on Facebook to try to track them down, but she he hasn’t had any luck yet there.
Sands cautioned that those who are new to pointe — and especially those who are looking to buy their first pair of pointe shoes — should not buy their shoes online.
For dancers whose favorite shoe just isn’t available anywhere right now, Sands and Jacques are encouraging them to visit a store for an in-person refitting.
“Use your pointe-fitters,” said Jacques, who has been fitting pointe shoes for over 28 years. She shared that some of her customers wound up finding shoes that they like even better than the ones they had previously considered to be their favorite.
”Dancers are seeing that it’s possible to dance in a variety of different pointe shoes.”
Eve M., 14, who lives in southern NH, hasn’t had any luck finding her favorite shoe in stock in her size anywhere, so she sought the help of the folks at On Your Toes Dancewear in Peabody, MA.
In a process that resembled a trip to Ollivander’s Wand Shop, owner Laynie Terban opened doors and cubbies and pulled slender shoe boxes from towering stacks until Eve finally found a pair she liked.
Eve bought two pairs, but revealed that she has a pair of Russian-made shoes at home that she is saving for her upcoming August performances. After that, she’s not sure what she will do. “I’m not worrying about that now, “ she said.
Jacques is encouraging her customers to plan ahead, and said that if they find a shoe they like, to buy four pairs if possible.
And to also have a backup shoe in mind.
“Have a plan in place,” she said. “It’s going to be OK.”