Buffalo Exchange and Tiny Hanger

Retail Social Media: Small Business vs. National Chain

By Alicia Deily and Lindsey Jones

Social media is imperative to the success of a business. When companies interact with consumers through these websites, they are more likely to attract new customers and develop stronger loyalty with current ones. We wanted to compare a local retail business with a national retail chain to see the differences and similarities in their social media usage.

Buffalo Exchange
Buffalo Exchange is a clothing store that buys and sells gently worn clothing and accessories. The store was first established in 1974 in Tucson, Arizona. After the initial success, the business was franchised and now can be found in 15 states. There are 42 stores and 3 franchises which collectively create $72.9 million a year in revenue (as of Dec 2011). Buffalo Exchange is an independent and privately held company. They have Boston-area locations on Harvard Avenue in Allston and in Davis Square in Somerville.

We got in touch with Michelle Livingston, Marketing Director, to learn more about how they manage their social media. The first few search engine results of the store are: the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and blog. Their website is extremely user friendly and engaging. It features information about the history of the business, locations, current events, customer reviews and publicity.

The company has a very healthy Twitter feed. They have over 5,000 followers and almost 2,000 tweets. Their tweets are very useful and interactive that appeal to their target customers.

Buffalo Exchange has a very strong Facebook presence. They have over 30,000 likes. The company uses Facebook to promote deals and upcoming events. They are active on other websites like Tumblr, Myspace, Pinterest, Flickr, and Youtube.

This company jumped on the social media bandwagon early. By 2003, Buffalo Exchange had been updating their bulletins on their website more frequently.  Then, in 2004, Buffalo Exchange began their Myspace account. In 2007, the company joined Youtube and Facebook. Their Flickr and Twitter accounts were established in 2007. In 2010 they began their blog. Most recently, in 2011 the company established an Iphone application for their customers.

Buffalo Exchange believes that social media is a fun yet powerful way that they can interact with their customers. They recognize and take full advantage of the fact that social media acts as free advertising for their business. Buffalo Exchange uses Hootsuite in order to manage their social media presence. They have a schedule for posting blog posts and bulletins on their website. Buffalo Exchange uses Google analytics to measure the effectiveness of their online presence. They have noticed that their Facebook page is by far the most successful for reaching their customers.

Buffalo Exchange is a prime example of a company using social media effectively. They started gaining a following early and it has strengthened over the years. Although the company is  a national chain, their stores often have the feeling of a local boutique. Our suggestion to them would be to further emphasize this feeling through their use social media. Their online presence could be even more connected to the communities  where their stores are located. For example, they could promote local bands and local events. Focusing on the ‘small boutique’ feeling of their stores will drive more traffic and help them gain an even stronger following.

Buffalo Exchange realizes that their online presence has a large impact on their success, and that their target market responds effectively to social media. Michelle said it best with this summary:“Our target audience is the driver for our decisions”. As long as the company continues to cater to their customer’s interests and needs, they will be successful. We were very impressed with their extensive use of social media.

Tiny Hanger
Tiny Hanger is a local boutique located on Coolidge Corner in Brookline. They offer fun clothing and accessories to children ages 6 and under. They also offer exclusive designer goods and handmade crafts. Currently they have a Twitter feed  a Facebook page and a Blogspot blog. They also have a website.

We interviewed its owner, Lucia Berman-Rossi. Tiny Hanger opened in October of 2011; this is when they began using Facebook and Twitter. Lucia said that it was obvious Tiny Hanger needed a social media presence. She said that everyone is on Facebook and it has become essential for businesses to connect with their customers there.

They currently update their website using Dreamweaver but due to the fact that it is so complicated, they do not update as frequently as they would like to. They end up using Facebook more. Lucia feels that the website is not where she wants it to be so they are switching their website to WordPress. She hopes that this will make frequent updates easier and less time consuming.

“Facebook by far is the most successful social media site. People will come into the store and specifically ask for clothing items they have seen highlighted on the Facebook page” said Lucia.

She is still getting used to Twitter but she tries to tweet several times a day. Eventually, she would like to tweet more interesting and useful articles along with style advice. She feels that the Blogspot blog is probably the least effective medium so far but they still feel it is important to maintain for the store to have a complete online presence.

Currently it is just Lucia and her husband managing Tiny Hanger’s social media. She is planning on having Christa Tuon, the store’s Visual Merchandiser, take on some of the responsibilities. Christa said “I think Tiny Hanger is taking advantage of social media and headed in the right direction however, more needs to be done in the acquisition of ‘followers’ and ‘friends’. Tiny Hanger is still a young company and if it stays on the right path, it will really take off.”

Tiny Hanger does have a Hootsuite account but Lucia has not had time to fully figure out how to effectively use it. With Christa’s help, Lucia would eventually like to get on a social media calendar to streamline all of their outlets. As for analytics, Lucia explained that they do use Google Analytics but since they have been so busy with the store, she barely has had time to look at it. She is aware of the benefits and would like to utilize it more when she recieves more help.

The business uses social media to promote special events and offers. They are involved locally and they have held events like “Story-Time” and “How to Make Your Own Baby Food.”  For the baby-food event, she brought in an outside source to teach customers how to make their own baby food. She promoted it through Facebook and Twitter and so did the outside source. People came to the event specifically because they saw it promoted heavily online. This shows how effective social media can be locally.

However, Lucia says that she will often run sales that last only a day and promote them through Facebook or Twitter. She does not feel that this is effective because the sales are too short and does not give customers sufficient time to make it into the store. If she ran a longer sale, she believes she would better be able to better drive traffic through online promotion.

Social media is important to Tiny Hanger because it creates customer loyalty. Fans can follow events and promotions more easily. It also drives traffic especially when new shipments arrive, people see specific items they want and come to the store looking for them. Customers lead busy lives and they do not have a lot of time to spend online. Tiny Hanger has to keep this in mind when posting.

Lucia feels that social media is great because it is “free, easy and people use it.” But the downside is that it is a limited audience and that it is easy for a business to “rely on it too much”. She guesses that only about 25% of her customer base followers her on Twitter or Facebook. She said that she has posted information about upcoming events online and then realize that she forgot to put up posters in the physical store. In this case she estimates that she missed 75% of her customers or potential customers by relying too heavily on social media.

One suggestion for Tiny Hanger is that they create a mobile application for busy parents on the go. Creating an Iphone-friendly application would be yet another way to effectively reach their target market. For being such a new business, Tiny Hanger has done an excellent job of maintaining an online presence. If they keep up their momentum, we are sure that they will continue to grow and gain followers.

Whether a business is a national chain or a local boutique, social media is essential to connect with current and future customers. Buffalo Exchange and Tiny Hanger are two examples of businesses that know how to effectively reach their target market with social media. Both businesses recognize that having a heavy online presence is essentially free advertising and they take advantage of this.


Ty Burr at Lasell

By Lindsey Jones

Movie critic Ty Burr will visit Lasell College on Tuesday April 10, 2012. Burr’s presentation is titled “The Future of Movies” and will be sure to engage the audience with his experience and expertise of the journalism field. The presentation will be held in DeWitt Hall at 12:30pm. Throughout the presentation Burr will share information about technical and cultural aspects of film.

Ty Burr studied film at Dartmouth College and New York University. He then began his career in the 1980’s. Burr started at Home Box Office, where he helped program Cinemax pay-cable service. From there, Burr worked for Entertainment Weekly as the chief video critic for the magazine. Burr has also had experience covering and critiquing music, film, theatre, and books. In July 2002, Burr began working as a film critic for The Boston Globe.

Throughout his career, Burr has written three books. The latest book that was published, The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together, was released in 2007. Burr’s other books were published in 1999 and 1998. These books are, The Hundred Greatest Movies of All Time, and, The Hundred Greatest Stars of All Time.  Along with the numerous amount of work Burr has done, he has also written articles for several major publications including the New York Times, Spin and the Boston Phoenix. Currently, Burr is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and The Boston Society of Film Critics. He also lives in Newton Massachusetts along with his wife and his two daughters.

This presentation is co-sponsored by the Donahue Institute and the Department of Communication. Students, especially ones studying communication, are urged to attend this presentation as a way to learn even more about the world of journalism. Along with Burr’s presentation, free pizza will be provided to all that attend.

Can Pinterest compete?

By Lindsey Jones

It is evident that people love social media websites. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter give people a since of unity, and makes them feel that they belong. These websites allow people to share their moments, pictures, and thoughts to the world. People also connect with anyone they could ever imagine through these websites. It is clear that these websites have unlimited benefits, but how will the world react to a new social media website? Introducing Pinterest. This social media website, different from the rest, gives people the ability to share their favorite items, dream rooms, and ultimately their personalities through what they pin on their boards. No matter the features that the website may possess, it is still a mystery how it’s popularity will stack up against the front runners in the social media race.

Pinterest is like no other social media website that people have seen before. At first glance, people realize this fact. To sign up, a person is required to request an invite. After they receive an invitation from the website, members can begin to pin. People can pin whatever their heart’s desire, and gives people the opportunity to be as creative as they want. Even though that this website is nothing like the social media websites that are out there, Yahoo said that in the past few months Pinterest has become the 16th most visited website on the internet.

Pinterest is mainly geared towards woman. In my opinion, this is the websites major downfall. Since the website is only appealing to women at this time, it is losing many potential members. Pinterest acts as an online dream board, showing others what people love and want. People try to identify themselves on this website by showing off their personal style. Pinterest also sparks creativity within women, showing off an array of DIY projects that they themselves can manage to create.

Social media websites are the reality of today. People crave these websites to keep them updated on want to know information. With a new website on the scene, one can only assume that it can not compare to ones such as Facebook and Twitter. Even though right now it has sparked popularity, it wont always be that way. Since the website does not appeal to all, people will one day forget about it, and it will lose its fan base.

Popular clothing brand under fire

Lindsey Jones

This week, the popular clothing store Abercrombie and Fitch is under fire for a fake website that has been put up not by them. The website features a mass amounts of the clothing store’s products on their site, with a twist. One pair of cargo brown pants, that were posted on the website, had a racist title to them. The company has released many statements claiming that the website was not published by them, and they are working hard to find the culprit and bring them to justice.

Founding in 1892, Abercrombie and Fitch serves to consumers aged 13 to 22, and has 300 stores in the United States. The American retailer carries an array of casual clothing. The company also has many other brands, that have branched out into their own stores, expanding the Abercrombie brand.

Today, people are shocked to what has happened with the fake websites. Bosses of the company are shocked and disgusted, and promise that the website will be taken down. The company realizes that this stunt will have a negative effect on their brand, and they are keeping people updated with their progress on stopping this website.

This isn’t the first time that the company has been under fire for a racial issue. In 2004, the company was speculated of being racist, for their lack of diversity in their advertisements. Also in that year, Abercrombie was sued for hiring only white workers, and not African American.

The brand itself is expanding, causing a rise in popularity. Along with the abundance of Abercrombie and Fitch stores open, they also own other successful stores including Hollister, Abercrombie kids and Gilly Hicks. Stores have also gone international, opening stores in places such as Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

A representitve for the company has told TMZ, “”We do not condone racist language. This is a counterfeit website and we have initiated legal proceedings to shut it down.” Even though the company is working hard to promote that they are not behind the fake website, it has not been taken down yet.

The Real Story of The Vow

By Lindsey Jones

On February 10, 2012 the romantic film The Vow hit theaters everywhere. The film, staring A-listers Rachael McAdams and Channing Tatum, followed two newlyweds and their love story. A few months into their marriage, the character portrayed by McAdams suffers a brain injury, receiving memory loss, which leads her to forget her husband. The movie not only received the top spot at the box office its opening weekend, but has also shed a light on the true story the movie was based on.

Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s life was transformed forever on November 23, 1993 after a devastating car accident. After receiving a massive head injury, Krickitt was left in a coma for several weeks. When she awoke, Krickitt had lost all memory of her husband. Kim persevered and was determined to stick by his wife through everything. “I’m no hero, I made a vow,” Kim said, about being a dedicated husband throughout his wife’s recovery.

The movie highlights the story of the couple, letting the audience peek into the romantic story of two lovers being disconnected by memory loss. Throughout the theater, sounds of sniffles could be heard by many movie goers, as they watched the story unfold, wondering what would happen next.

Along with the movie, there was a book adaption of the Carpenter’s story. The book has recently been updated with an extra chapter that includes more about the real story of the Carpenter’s and a photo insert showing pictures of the real Carpenter family.

The movie was very well received by critics, but is geared towards mostly to women. There were many tear jerking moments and many scenes were relatable to audiences by tackling family issues and personal struggles. There was some talk about the ending of the movie and how people were not satisfied with the way it was, but many other people believe that it ended fine. A freshman at Lasell College, Sarah Buckley says, “The ending of the movie leaves it up to interpretation, and really lets you imagine what happened between the couple. The movie keeps you on your toes the entire time, and you couldn’t really see how it was going to end, but overall I was happy with it.”

Before the credits began, audiences realize that the story is based off the real life experiences of the Capenter’s. It is then revealed the Krickitt Carpenter never regained her memory, but got remarried to her husband years later, after falling back in love once again. Their true life story highlights the strength of love, and the lengths some people will go to, to keep their love alive. The Vow is still in theatres, and would definitely be recommended by many people. Near Lasell College there are two theaters.

For more information about the movie, movie times, or locations you can visit Fandango or The Vow official website. 

Spend a Semester in D.C.

By Lindsey Jones

Interested in new experiences? Well look no further than the semester program at American University in Washington D.C. Lasell College is now offering this semester long program for willing students. This program is perfect for  students ready for new challenges and new surroundings. If you’re a student ready for an exciting semester in our nation’s capital, take the leap and apply for the program.

Located right in the center of our capital, American University is a hub of excitement. AU is a private, liberal arts college that enrolls over 6,000 students in their undergraduate class. The university is known for its political activism. Since 2006, the college has been recognized several times by Princeton Review for being the most politically active college. AU has a lot of opportunities to offer students.

The area is also another reason to think about enrolling in this semester program. Not only is Washington an interesting and historic place, it houses some fabulous restaurants and shopping areas. It is easy to say that if a student engages in this semester program they will not be bored or regret it in any way. If you’re a student interested in attending the program and want to know more about the university, you can visit the AU’s website.

College should be full of new experiences and memories, and this would be a great way to branch out. Not only will a student be learning a lot, they also have the opportunity to meet new people, make connections in a new place, and study somewhere new.  Applications were due March 1, 2012., but for more information contact Sarah Burrows through email at sburrows@lasell.edu.

Marx in Soho at Lasell

By Lindsey Jones

On February 16 in the Yamawaki Art and Cultural Center, Bob Weick captured the spirit of Karl Marx in his show, Marx in SoHo. Throughout his performance, Weick captivated audiences by acting out the real life of Karl Marx. Students and faculty, all there for different reasons, left with a new view on capitalism and America.

Bob Weick travels around the country acting as theorist Karl Marx, preaching his ideology to people everywhere. The show begins with a short film introduction. During the film, people begin to see what Marx’s ideas really were, and how they are related to today’s society. The introduction also captures who Howard Zin was, and talks about his work. After the introduction, Weick comes on stage, immersed in his character, as Karl Marx.

Weick started his show by explaining what his ideas were all about. After the audience had a grasp on Marx’s beliefs, he began talking about his personal life, getting deeper into why he felt the way he did. Weick as Marx mesmerized audiences, telling stories about his life by constantly instituting passion within his voice.  After reflecting on his life, he began connecting his beliefs with today’s society. This part of the show engaged the audience the most, because it was a section that they could connect with personally.

Marx in SoHo was a great show for anyone to enjoy. When asked about her thoughts on the show, freshman Maddie Newton, 19,  said she, “didn’t have a strong background with communism or Karl Marx but some of the points made me alter my view on how different our world could be.”

Throughout his life, Marx had the goal of changing the way the world looked, and with a play like this one people finally have a chance to see what Marx really envisioned. For more information about Bob Weick and the show click here.