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Pals create one-stop shop for little performers

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Cathy Dobson

Sonia Odorico and Rina Barker say their friendship and new business partnership are not surprising given all they have in common.

Both women are Italian. They both have three children and met years ago when their daughters started dance classes, then discovered both have twins and husbands named Mike.

In June, Odorico and Barker became the new owners of Body Moves Sports Apparel Inc. on Finch Drive. They say they are drawing on years of experience as dance moms to redefine the business as Sarnia’s one-stop shop for gymnastics, dance and skating wear and accessories.

Body Moves also carries specialized items such as nurses’ shoes and uniforms, chef jackets, figure skates and money belts for waitresses.

“We were both customers here for the last eight or nine years,” explains Barker, who has an extensive business and marketing background. Her family owned the Open Kitchen and Fat Moe’s restaurant as she grew up.

She is also a former GM at the Dante Club and most recently worked in new business development and customer service at Sarnia In Motion.

When Body Moves’ former owner Cheryl Dunn decided to retire, she let her customers know she wanted to sell, according to Barker.

“Cheryl has been here for years and built a strong customer base. Sonia and I saw there’s value in the Body Moves name,” she said.

“And we have so many ideas to add to it,” said Odorico. She has experience in retail and has operated her own hair salon, most recently at Sawmill Creek Golf Resort and Spa.

“We wanted to be business partners and we both love children,” she said. “Now we can have a store together that caters to kids.”

While renovations continue through the summer, Body Moves is open Tuesday to Friday. By mid August, Odorico and Barker hope to have the interior work complete and new inventory in. At that point, hours of operation will be extended to six days a week.

Apart from fresh paint and displays, the back wall is coming out to accommodate new services that include an onsite seamstress and makeup and hairstyle demonstrations by Odorico for little performers.

The women intend to become certified point shoe fitters and Dunn will return in the fall by appointment only to fit figure skates.

“We are carrying top brands, many of them exclusive in Sarnia,” said Barker. “We hope people will stop travelling to London or the States and buy everything they need for their dancers, skaters and gymnasts locally.”

There’s a ready market in Sarnia/Lambton, she added. At last count, the area had seven dance schools and five skating clubs.

Body Moves Sports Apparel Inc. is located in the Finch Plaza at the corner of Finch and Wellington. A grand opening celebration is planned for August 29. Call 519-344-4576 or visit bodymoves.ca.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.

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