Ama la Vita
Living life to the fullest
There are some fun changes in Hillcrest Shopping Center as of September. Blades to Ballet, the skating and dance merchandise headquarters of Rochester is now Ama la Vita, with a focus on women’s fashion.
Ginger Knapp and husband Scott bought Blades to Ballet in May 2008. Their youngest daughter was “heavily involved in skating and dance at the time,” so the Knappy family was very familiar with the store, which initially opened in 1986. Knapp says, “I was looking for something “part-time” to do,” and with a degree in fashion merchandising, she felt like store ownership would be just the thing.
Now Knapp laughs. “It’s clearly not part-time. Unless I’m out of town, I’m always here.”
But owning a business has its perks. Her father, who owned several businesses of his own, would always ask her, “Do the benefits outweigh the risks?” Knapp knows they do.
The couple did “lots of rebuilding when we bought it,” but there were things that they always wanted to do. Knapp says, “The pandemic finally made us do things I wished we had done 12 years ago.” Because he had a period of furlough, her husband was able to spend time doing some build-out. He ripped out the carpet, leaving the concrete floors exposed. He removed the front desk and built a new one, and the Knapps and their daughters repainted everything and redid the seating area.
Knapp started carrying women’s fashion in 2018, but felt that the name Blades to Ballet didn’t reflect that. The store’s new name, Ama la Vita (love life) comes from Knapp’s Italian heritage and lessons from her parents about embracing and enjoying life. She credits her parents (she lost her mom in 2002 and her dad in 2019) with teaching her to embrace life to the fullest.
It’s always been about family for her. Now her three daughters help in the business. Kennis is the assistant manager/buyer, and Taylor and Logan help when they are not working at their full-time jobs.
The fact that skating-related merchandise wasn’t selling as quickly as normal during the pandemic meant that she had more room to focus on fashion. With brand names like Free People, Day Dreamer and Z Supply, shoppers can get the “Boho comfy relaxed” look but can also look professional.
Pivoting to focus more on fashion and changing the name has “given me the opportunity to make the store mine,” says Knapp. “I feel like it’s truly mine now.”
They recently celebrated their grand re-opening with an open house with brunch by The Duck Truck. Look for more events to come!