Spotlight on Independent Retailers: Waceland
The face of Newcastle’s shopping streets has changed over the years as a new generation of shoppers enter the scene with new demands and a new set of values. Georgia and Jordan Stanley have responded to the growing interest in sustainable fashion, with their own take on the movement; a handpicked vintage and streetwear store, Waceland.
Their first physical and long-term location, which opened in 2018, is tucked away in Newcastle’s historic Central Arcade on Grainger Street, and brings together the hallmarks of the brand for high-quality, pre-made finds. loved. Following the success of their initial opening, the two expanded their message to another location, which launched in Durham in 2021, on Saddler Street.
FashionUnited spoke to half of the brother-sister duo, Georgia, about the idea behind Waceland, their take on the ever-changing retail landscape and the pre-loved market boom.
- Site: Newcastle and Durham
- Owner: Georgia and Jordan Stanley
- Product categories: Vintage and streetwear handpicked, reworked
- Brands: Palace, Carhartt, Burberry, Supreme, Kith, Vans, Moncler, Adidas, Lee, Missoni, The North Face, Nike Thrasher, Patta
How was Waceland formed?
My brother and I started Waceland in the summer of 2017, when I was in third year of college. We used to do pop-up shops for three month periods. The first was at the bottom of Gray Street and the second, when I finished my fourth year of college, was the following winter, on Highbridge Street. The following summer we moved to our current location. It was supposed to start as a pop-up too, but it lasted a lot longer. I think it’s a nice house for it here. It adapts to the arch. We are three years old at this place now and have just opened a second in Durham in July 2021. My brother runs this one.
How would you describe Waceland’s DNA?
We always go the extra mile for our customers, as a family business we believe that customers should be treated the same as you would treat your friends and relatives. Waceland wouldn’t be the same without our amazing loyal customers, which is why every shopper, online or in store, is treated with the same warmth and respect as the next. If we receive a message from a customer wanting a particular item, we’ll go the extra mile to try and find it for them, just as you would a friend.
Who is the Waceland customer?
Waceland is primarily marketed to our student base, for whom we offer a 10 percent student discount on our vintage section. I wanted Waceland to have a community vibe with our customers, where people come and feel relaxed. There are a lot of customers who have become friends over the years and now come to chat or say “hello”.
What made you decide to sell vintage in particular?
I think there is a good following in Newcastle. When we moved in, there wasn’t a lot of vintage clothing around here. There are a few that have popped up now because everyone wants to become more sustainable and there are a lot of vintage clothes that are higher in quality than other brands by the minute. For example, many vintage t-shirts are 100 percent cotton, while new ones are not. You can’t beat their quality. Even the styles were better.
You obviously don’t want vintage clothes to go to landfills, you want to reuse them and there are a lot of really good clothes where you don’t know why someone wouldn’t want to use them. I think they just need someone else to like them.
What does the market in Newcastle look like, in particular, for vintage?
It is quite good. We welcome both students and people working full time, in their late twenties. A lot of people are interested and Waceland has some unique pieces that you won’t find anywhere else. Even compared to other vintage shops. I think it’s a good idea to be able to come in and be excited about what you can find.
The face of shopping streets has changed in recent years. Why do you think it is?
In recent years, many more people have entered the sustainable side of fashion, taking care of the planet and looking for what has the least impact on the environment. Before, and especially when I was in college, there was a lot of research on buying habits, which found that customers were buying something that was made halfway around the world and paying for it. two books for that. They wear it once and then throw it away. Now they know if you buy better it will last you longer. You might pay more for it, but you get more and you can pass it on.
Do you think there are advantages to being independent in today’s retail climate?
I feel like the pandemic has made people appreciate what is available within their communities that they may not even have known was originally there. With the travel restrictions earlier in the pandemic, I think it’s made it possible for everyone to see what’s on their doorstep. There are so many amazing independent stores and markets that are seeing a surge in interest, which is absolutely amazing. I think people will continue to use independent and local businesses because it gives the customer a different experience than going to a department store. Independent stores are largely run by the owners themselves or by people close to the business, so they will do anything to make the customer happy and go the extra mile. It’s more of a personal touch and makes you feel like you are part of the community.
What have been your biggest challenges since opening the store?
The hardest factor in starting your own fashion business is establishing your footprint and letting customers discover you. Over the years from pop-up stores to now, we engage with different markets in each location and bring our loyal customers with us into our next phase, which has been amazing. Our customers make it all worth it.
Have you ever struggled with the vintage business model?
Everything went well, but during the lockdown it was difficult. I always find it best to be open because I don’t really like selling online. I feel like you are missing an experience. With vintage, it’s better to see the love attached to it: you wash, iron and pick by hand. You can tell that our heart is invested in what we present in the store.
So, are you focusing on physical rather than digital marketing?
We always prefer people to come to the store because then you get more experience. It feels more personal when you buy something from a person and have this communication. It’s like a community, a little Waceland family that you can be a part of. I don’t think you can get this online that much.
We get all the people from Instagram who will come with their phone and ask if there is anything in a photo and I love to see that. You can tell they are waiting for it.
What were your biggest learning curves?
In all fairness, I’m a very cautious person, so I overthink everything and always over-prepared for the “just in case” scenario. This is something that I have had since being in the fashion industry and I think my past experiences have helped me prepare. I stick to the phrase “be like water” and everything will be fine.
Is there something you are looking forward to with the future of the store?
I don’t like long term goals, I just like to see how it goes. The Durham store was not under construction until 2021. When I feel like doing a little more, I will push more. It’s hard to grasp at the moment, and with everything going on in the world, you don’t really know what to expect. I try to do my best for the customers. I’m there everyday and just trying to see what they want and grow with them. When I started there was a lot more streetwear and now it’s vintage so it naturally goes with where customers go. We’re also going to rework a lot more now, so it’s a new little branch.