Upper Merion is home to an abundance of incredible small businesses that many in our community have grown to know and love. The holidays are the perfect time to shine a spotlight on some of our favorite small businesses in King of Prussia. Each week, Upper Merion Township will feature a Small Business Hero and share their story. This week’s featured business is Upper Merion Dance & Gymnastics Center.
Michelle and Dave have been serving UMT students and families since 2004 through their business, Upper Merion Dance & Gymnastics Center (UMDGC). What started in 2004 as “Michelle and Dave’s Place” has grown by leaps and bounds to be 2 studios, a massive gym, and a new cheer facility. Located at 530 Hertzog Blvd in King of Prussia, they offer a number of recreational and team programs including dance, gymnastics, parkour, tumbling and All Star Cheerleading and competitive gymnastics teams. About 85% of their customers are UMT residents.
In addition to their physical locations, Michelle and Dave ensure UMDGC gives back to UMT in many ways, including donating classes/programming to UMASD, offering free performances at local community events, fundraising for local families experiencing hardships, and offering employment opportunities to junior staff complete with mentorship, training, and providing them with tools to succeed in their future endeavors.
While COVID-19 has hit many businesses hard, gyms such as UMDGC have been among the hardest hit. As gyms were mandated closed from March-June, Michelle states, “We were unsure how many families would be comfortable returning, and if we were going to be able to successfully continue our programs within in the community.” Michelle and Dave faced the added stress of ensuring their staff and all families were going to be safe and protected when they were able to reopen.
Like small business owners often do, Michelle and Dave innovated and began to offer virtual programming. A parent of a dance student states, “Early in the pandemic, when our kids were still trying to process the fact that they were no longer in school and couldn’t see their friends, UMDGC offered a series of free dance classes to help keep the kids connected to each other. As my 7-year old daughter was taking the class, I couldn’t help but overhear Michelle take the time at the start of the class to greet each and every single girl personally and to ask them, with very genuine interest, how they were doing. I will never forget the selflessness she showed during a very difficult time for those girls.”
They continue to work through numerous challenges including making sure families feel safe, both business and personal financial strain, overall stress and constantly adapting to updated safety guidelines. However, they are excited to get back to anything “normal” again and are extremely proud to have been operating safely for 5 months with zero COVID-19 cases.
Michelle states, “We care about all of our participants and families, and want them to be safe and healthy. Owners, managers, and staff are working hard to make sure everyone that enters UMDGC feels safe. With schools virtual or partially virtual, we want to ensure children have the opportunity to have some physical activity and socialization, which is key to keeping them healthy, both mentally and physically.”
To Michelle and Dave – thank you for all you and UMDGC do for Upper Merion Township residents!
Do you have a favorite small business in Upper Merion Township? Nominate them to be featured here!