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HomeFEATURESSaved by social media: How a vintage clothing business beat the pandemic

Saved by social media: How a vintage clothing business beat the pandemic

To run a successful retail business in the 21st century, a multichannel approach is essential. For popular vintage store Magic Hollow, social media acted as a launching pad for the business and continues to be one of its main channels.

Starting off as a simple Facebook page, Magic Hollow has now amassed 19,000 followers across its social media platforms.

The Auckland-based business was also the first to offer the New Zealand public American vintage clothes.

“It expanded from there [social media] to pop-up shops and from there, seeing the demand, to jumping into a physical retail store,” says Adam Thompson, founder and owner.

The popularity and success of the Facebook page and pop-up shops overtime helped Magic Hollow’s Thompson open a brick-and-mortar store just off Queen St.

Famous for its in-the-wall store and a spiral downwards staircase, opening up Magic Hollow off Queen St furthered Thompson’s customer reach to the local Auckland City community. This resulted in him beginning to focus more on his popular brick-and-mortar store.

Thompson admits that having a physical store resulted in “far more greater responsibilities” such as leases and employees, whereas an online store can easily be run from a bedroom.

Read more: Tapping into the world of Gen Z spending.

However, when Covid-19 came along, Thompson had to reboot the social media presence of Magic Hollow to survive the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“There is no way I am going to let this thing I have worked so hard to build up, crumble into nothing and I think most business owners thought the same.”

The transition from physical stores back into social media was much easier than Thompson thought.

“Because we started online it was easy for us to transition more of our resources, the instore resources, like the retail workers and that side of the business, back into the online store,” he says.

Magic Hollow.

“We were always running an online store but during Covid it meant we just had to put all our instore resources into the online shopfront.”

Running solely online during the pandemic resulted in Magic Hollow putting more stock online and meaning more online promotion.

Thompson says that with the lockdown, he could focus on their brand a bit more and build it up again that way Magic Hollow could reach their existing customers who were at home but also further their reach.

During the pandemic, Magic Hollow was just in the right place at the right time.

“During lockdown, there was a massive explosion on Instagram with [the trend of] American vintage, mostly professional sportswear stuff, which is great,” says Frances Nadan, the social media coordinator at Magic Hollow.

From the very beginning, Magic Hollow sold on the concept of American Vintage and so using their social media and the popular trend to their advantage, the pandemic was really a “blessing in disguise”.

“It brought so much interest back to the brand because we were full time online,” says Nadan.

“The content we were making, the engagement we were getting from the customers was great.”

Nadan adds that the content that Magic Hollow was publishing during lockdown was very organic, with all the content being “at-home shoots”. Employees who were unable to come into the store were taking pictures of the clothes on themselves or on their flatmates.

“People loved it, the engagement went through [the roof],” she says.

Social media platform TikTok has also helped Magic Hollow reach a new demographic – the rest of the world. Nadan says that occasionally their online store sees random orders from across the world, and owes it all to the social media platform.

“We get people come in store who have been living in Auckland their entire lives who have been and saw us on TikTok,” she says.

The organic reach that Magic Hollow receives from TikTok is “far beyond anything I have ever experienced,” says Thompson.

Social media tiktok

“Social media throughout Magic Hollow’s lifetime started out as a Facebook page, there was no Instagram back then and grew a massive following there. Then it transitioned over to Instagram, gained a massive following there, and a new type of audience grew. Now on TikTok the same exact thing [is happening],” says Thompson.

“We’re constantly reaching new people because our customer base is that age. It’s really important for us to be on top of it and understand how those platforms work.”

Out of lockdown, Magic Hollow is seeing a resurgence in business for their brick-and-mortar store that it hasn’t seen since before the pandemic, in the hub of vintage and thrift stores, Karangahape Rd.

“We might focus more instore than online as we see more people come in store,” says Thompson.

However, that doesn’t mean the end of the Magic Hollow social media channels.

With Covid-19 still in the air, Thompson says that the versatility to use social media will come in handy if another lockdown is to ever occur.

As for the brand over the next five years, the goal for Magic Hollow is to head overseas, and with the reach it is receiving on social media, it doesn’t seem that far off. 

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Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email bernadette.basagre@scg.net.nz