Conveniently located in Downtown Champaign, Austin’s Sportswear carries dance apparel, gymnastics and skating attire in such brands as Capezio, Bloch, Eurotard and GK Elite. CCP spoke with owner, Autumn Bates.
How long have you worked at Austin’s?
Oh gosh. Full-time, forty seven years. I’m third generation of a family business. I’ve been part of this business my whole life, sixty-three years.
What makes Austin’s Sportswear unique?
Austin’s is a small-niche business. We’re a locally-owned specialty shop catering to dance and theater. There aren’t very many dance apparel stores in the area. In fact, we’re the only one in East Central Illinois. People travel to see us and shop here.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people who come in. They appreciate us because of what we offer. They like that they can buy local. I’m so tickled by that!
What changes have you seen in Downtown Champaign over the years?
Less retail and more eating establishments. There have been lots of changes downtown as time marches on. Many people come downtown for festivals and to enjoy the night life. I would like more people to help us take care of the downtown so that people can continue to enjoy it.
What do you want people to know about Austin’s Sportswear?
I’ve been waiting 47 years for you to come to our shop! I have a real passion for people with a passion – those doing musical theater, dance or individuals taking a dance class for the first time. I enjoy my life through these people because they are inspiring and enjoying what they do.