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WEST CHESTER – When working, the internet can be a valuable tool for businesses, but a local merchant has found that when a social media platform fails to deliver on its promises, a glitch can hurt sales.

Malena’s Vintage store at the intersection of Church and Gay streets was recently cut from Instagram with just 2 hours notice.

Owner Malena Martinez has been selling vintage and antique clothing in the 1,500 square foot corner boutique in downtown West Chester for 18 years.

The female owner of a small, minority-owned business received a cryptic correspondence from Instagram that she initially viewed as spam. On August 4, his account was deactivated and nearly 9,000 subscribers were left in the dark.

Martinez said Instagram is responsible for 20% of the store’s sales.

In the email, she was told she had “violated the terms of service” but received no indication of the terms specifically violated.

She is afraid of unknowingly making the same mistake again.

“Not knowing what we did wrong, how can we not start over? Martinez asked. “Basically our entire Instagram network that we took eight years to build is dissolved.

“I’m afraid we can’t get any of our contacts back and credit the work we’ve done.”

The mistake was costly. Last week, store workers were paid 50 hours of work in an attempt to contact Instagram, without success.

The store cannot reach a human on Instagram and only receives automatic replies or bots.

Martinez is frustrated when virtual platforms encourage small business owners to work with them, but then respond with bots. She said other small business owners have faced the same issue and it can sometimes take two months to resolve.

Instagram gives the store global reach. Potential customers have the ability to view, receive style ideas, share, and purchase dresses and jewelry online. Many then enter the store, while others buy nationally and internationally.

Martinez is proud that the sustainable-minded boutique kept 30 tons of clothing out of landfill.

A new Instagram account with around 1,000 followers was created in less than a week, but reinstalling the original account is essential.

“We are so grateful to the people who have texted, called, dropped and shared information for what I hope will be a temporary new page,” Martinez said.

For more information: Website: https://www.malenasboutique.com

Temporary Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/msmalenasvintage/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MalenasVintageBoutique


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