T&A Trader of the Week: Twinkletoes has been in Bradford for over 60 years
TO the generations of customers who have walked into Twinkletoes over the past 62 years, it’s more than a store.
With ruffles and sequins everywhere – ballet, prom, jazz and tap shoes, tutus, leotards, bags and bows – dance specialists have enchanted young people for decades, and they never forget it. Chances are, if you’ve attended a dance school in the neighborhood or been on a show, you’ve been to this little shop on Barkerend Road – now one of Bradford’s oldest businesses – to buy shoes or a leotard.
âPeople remember it when they were little, and now they bring their kids and grandchildren,â says Andrea Warne, owner of Twinkletoes – the Telegraph & Argus Trader of the Week.
âThe other day four generations of the same family arrived – daughter, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – and they all had memories of Twinkletoes. It’s a special place for a lot of people. kids love to come here, they don’t want to leave! They often come home in their new leotards after trying them on.
Andrea was eight when she first went to Twinkletoes. âI had a new pair of spikes, I still remember it,â she smiles. âAnn outfitted them for me. ”
It was former owner Ann Hassan, who had the Bradford shop for over 30 years before selling it to Andrea in 2019 when she retired. Andrea, who teaches dance at Bingley Dance Studio, brought Twinkletoes into a new era, while maintaining the traditional look that customers have loved since it opened in 1959.
âWhen I took over from Ann, she asked me if I wanted to keep the name Twinkletoes. I said ‘Of course that could never be anything else.’ That’s how everyone knows him. Says Andrea, who also kept the boutique’s signature pink color palette.
Twinkletoes was created in 1960 by Edith Padgett, a well-known dance teacher from Bradford who taught the Sunbeams of the Alhambra. Originally in Westgate, the store later moved to Barkerend Road, where it still stands today, and Edith ran it with her son until 1987 when Ann took over the business and then ran it with his daughter, Michelle.
âWhen Ann said she wanted to retire, I decided to take it. It has such a long history in Bradford and I wanted it to continue, âsays Andrea. âI decorated and bought new furniture, and I have a new line of dancewear, but other than that the store is more or less the same. I carry on the Twinkletoes tradition while bringing it into a new era.
âThere is such a rich heritage of dance schools in the Bradford area and this store is a big part of it.â
The boutique supplies dancewear and accessories to local dance schools, amateur drama societies, ballroom dancers, majorettes, ice skaters and fitness clubs. It also supplies professional businesses appearing at the Alhambra, and many stars have graced the scene with shoes provided by Twinkletoes. Online sales attract repeat customers from all over the world, including America and New Zealand.
And famous faces have called upon the shop over the years, including Dame Barbara Windsor, Les Dawsons, Alhambra Panto King Billy Pearce, Kimberley Walsh and her sister, Emmerdale star Amy Walsh and actor. by Coronation Street Joe Duttine.
With the closure of dance schools and theaters during the lockdown, there has been an impact on business at Twinkletoes, but Andrea says he’s busy again now: âI’ve had students who are on the verge of to start dance lessons in college and university. And the new Strictly Come Dancing series starting in September will be a boost – every year it inspires a new generation of kids to dance. I sell a lot of prom shoes when Strictly is on!
Andrea recently introduced Bloch, a new line of leotards, tutus, tights and wrap skirts. âBaby ballet is very popular now, so I started selling cute little tutus and cardigans,â she says.
âBallet shoes and clothing are always the most popular items, and we also sell gymnastics leotards. ”
Customers vary in age from toddlers to retirees. Many young people go to work in the theater. Former owner Ann Hassan first used the store in the 1970s when her daughter Michelle, now a professional dancer, was taking dance lessons.
When Ann retired in 2019, she told the T&A: “When Ms Padgett opened Twinkletoes in 1959 it was the only dancewear store in the area. Before that you had to go to London. When I took over, she said, âDon’t change the name.â It’s an institution in Bradford, and the dance schools have been very loyal.
âIt’s fantastic that he survived all these years. Even in the age of online retailing, people still love the personal touch. ”
* Twinkletoes is located at Newcastle House, Barkerend Road, Bradford. Visit twinkletoesbradford.co.uk or call (01274) 728648.