(from left) Mother and daughter team and Trudy’s School of Dance Co-Owners/Directors Linda Walker and Tiffany DiPrima are in the process of transitioning the iconic, 73-year-old James Island business into its new facility in the Island Shopping Plaza at 1291 Folly Rd.
Dancin’ through the next Decade
Displaced by development, iconic James Island dance studio to grow program offerings in spacious new facility
By Charlie Morrison | Community Editor
Mrs. Trudy Oltmann established her own small business, “Trudy School of Dance,” in 1939. Undoubtedly, the family matriarch had dreamt the dream shared by all small business owners with families and children, the dream of passing on the fruits of one’s labors to the next generation … to establish a legacy that lives beyond oneself. And while she didn’t know it at the time, Trudy Oltmann was to be wildly successful in creating that legacy. Seventy-three years have come and gone since Trudy first opened the doors to James Island’s first and only dance studio, and despite be recently forced to relocate their home base, business Co-Owners/Directors Linda Oltmann Walker and daughter Tiffany DiPrima have the operation primed not only to survive the change, but to grow from it.
Trudy’s School of Dance was forced to relocate to their current location in the Island Plaza at 830 Folly Road after former property owner Bill Youngblood sold the lot on which sat the former home of the studio, to development firm FEWG, LLC. Though tenant and landlord had, by that time, become close friends, Walker got the call over the studio’s Christmas break. As Walker describes the conversation, tears were shed … on both ends of the phone.
Trudy’s caught a break when they became acquainted with the broker in charge for the new development, Mikell C. Harper, of South Carolina-based real estate development firm Gramling Brothers. Harper assisted the gals in a number of ways and helping the gals get through the difficult transition and make it until next Christmas.
“We just looked at him and said ‘what if we can find something, what if don’t have a space … are we going to do if we can we if we can’t find anything, … after all, we don’t have a location. After all, we haven’t had to look in 73 years,” says Walker at first hearing the news from Harper himself. “But when it comes down to it we absolutely love what we do, and I knew we’d find a way to keep on doing it … What were we going to do, close?” laughs Walker.
Belying their initial trepidation of dealing with a broker for a development firm was Harper himself. Having personally come to the location the business had occupied for over three decades, the man who was a perceived threat became a bona fide ally to the gals.
“He has been a godsend … he is getting a x-mas card next year,” says DiPrima of Harper. “He came around and he looked at a pictures of me here in the studio as a kid,” she continues before her mother pipes in, “and before that me pregnant with her…” The nostalgia of the place clearly affected Harper,
“He looked at me and said, ‘I’m … we’re displacing a family,’” begins DiPrima in recollection of Harper’s reaction to seeing the iconic establishment. “I told him, ‘I’m not going to lie to you, but even though this is a business it is also a family. These kids call the dance studio their ‘dance family,’ and that’s what we are.”
© 2013 Wiser Time Publishing, Inc.