Collecting albums and buying merch or products endorsed by BTS is part of ARMY Life. But #PearlARMY in the Philippines, it’s sometimes hard (and extra expensive!) to get hold of original HYBE/Big Hit products, especially when we rely on the usual shopping routes.
Hence, we turn to local sellers who not only have a wide selection of goods, but more importantly offer shopping convenience–no credit card or Paypal, Korean address, or other documents needed.
One shop, however, gives us even more.
Aside from albums and other hard-to-find merch, POP City PH also carries premium BTS collectibles and items from foreign brands endorsed by BTS.
This includes the exclusive limited edition Be@rbrick x BTS, which was a 2019 collaboration with Medicom Toy, as well as select pieces from the recent Louis Vuitton 2021 Fall-Winter Collection by Virgil Abloh (+).
Behind the magic door: Meeting the owner of POP City PH
ARMY Connect PH had a quick chat with one of the owners of POP City PH, Valine Magtoto, who shared with us the story of how their humble yet growing online shop started out in 2020.
“My husband and I took the leap of faith to be entrepreneurs out of our love for music and graphic arts. We are musicians by heart and media practitioners by profession.
“At the onset of our decision to be entrepreneurs, we wanted to turn our passion into a purposeful endeavor that can bless our family.
“Back in 2018, we were primarily building our printing company, Funktion and Form. When the pandemic hit in 2020, our print business slowed down, and we have been seeking the Lord on what we should do next.
“While we were all locked down in our homes during the pandemic, it was K-pop that helped keep us sane and sober-minded. It helped fill our home with a happy atmosphere, which our kids enjoyed very much, too.
“God then just birthed a desire in our hearts to start anew in terms of our business endeavor, while we were trying to sustain the printing business altogether.
“While the pandemic may have posed such a big challenge to us and everyone else alike, God used it to open a new opportunity for us to have a fresh start, engage in e-commerce, and be of service to other music-lovers like us,” shares Val.
The Magtotos officially opened their second company POP City PH in November 2020–a scary yet exciting time.
“[At that time,] we started with selling albums like Map of the Soul: 7, Persona, and Love Yourself. We also mixed it up with the BTS Lemona vitamins and Hot Brew drinks.
“We were very surprised by the warm response of customers when we started. In terms of sales, we find ourselves always replenishing existing items we have and continuously look out for other merchandise we want to curate and make available for the fans.”
In The SHOP
Pop City PH carries the whole discography of BTS albums, as well as other official merchandise like tumblers, special edition photocard sets, notebooks, keyrings, bags, and stuffed dolls.
“For other items that are not on hand in our shop, we also accept orders by request. We do our best to source out their special requests and include them in our next soonest shipment,” says Val.
They also have a premium line featuring rare collector’s item pieces like the Louis Vuitton bags and sunglasses from Virgil Abloh’s Fall-Winter 2021 collection, and the 2019 Be@rbrick x BTS 400% scale model.
“We particularly curated these at Pop City PH because we value the remarkable milestones they represent in the journey of our Bangtan Boys.
“Take the Louis Vuitton pieces, for example: From BTS’ humble beginnings, they now get to represent and model for one of the world’s most respected luxury brands. Who would have thought back in 2013 they will get to have this opportunity 8 years later?
“For the Be@rbrick x BTS collaboration, we celebrate the fact that a big art collectible brand chose to have a special line with BTS, in the same degree that they have chosen to work with big names like Van Gogh, Coca-cola, Star Wars, and Coco Chanel.
“To us, [having these premium collectibles in store] is a celebration of how BTS has made (and continues to make!) a huge impact in our culture.
“These rare collectibles are not just bags, sunglasses, or toys in themselves, but are also tangible reminders of how God can truly make beautiful things out of every humble beginning,” shares Val.
“We think that other collectors and fans may see these items this way, too.
“In addition, these hard-to-find collectibles can, in fact, be later’s heirloom pieces that can be even be given as gifts to the next generation, knowing that these are limited edition and their price value actually increases as time passes,” she adds.
Choosing the ARMY Life
Let’s admit it: only a true ARMY would recognize the value of every single piece of merchandise released by or endorsed by BTS, and so we had to ask Val about her very own ARMY story.
“As a couple, our love for BTS actually started with my husband. He just loved how “Mic Drop” was excellently produced and was very much amazed by their performance on Saturday Night Live. And just like that… you know how the whole rabbit hole story goes! Haha!
“We also have our very close friends, too, who have been long-time fans. Little did we know that we were also being influenced by them every time they would tell us about BTS.”
Being an ARMY is quite the lifestyle, and Val has had her fair share of encounters and adventures as an ARMY, too!
On the best thing about being an ARMY, she says: “We love the fact that ARMYs represent a strong community that is united by a group that represents the message of love and inclusivity.
“With these values we commonly share, we get to do purposeful projects together, just like showing so much generosity towards those who are in need of help. Because we as a community choose to move in love, we get truly get to make this world a better place and be beacons of light in this day and age.”
ARMY is family
In true ARMY fashion, the connection between strangers sharing a common love and appreciation for BTS became one of the fuels for Val and POP City PH’s business by building relationships with customers beyond a buyer-seller dynamic.
“[Our customers] are always just so excited to purchase their own sealed albums and get to have a fun conversation with a team that shares the same genuine fandom joys as they do.
“Up to this day, we continuously enjoy the relationships we have built with the fans we have come across with, as well as enjoy the new ones that we get to gain every single day.
“We also value the part where we get to interact with young people, who surprisingly would sometimes open up about their struggles.
“For example, there was one student who wanted to buy an album for herself and said she thinks her mom won’t permit her because she has not been doing well in school.
“We took that as an opportunity to speak life and encouragement to her—letting her know that she can channel her desire as a motivation to do better in school and that there is no need to hurry in purchasing an album.
“We assured her that albums and merch will just be here and she can just message us when her mom allows her to purchase one. We get to be a tito and tita (or kuya and ate) to the next generation and be of good influence to them.
“Beyond the business aspect of Pop City PH, we know that we are called by God to use this platform to be salt and light to the community He has put us in, especially to the next generation.
“We’re just grateful to have those opportunities to make an impact in people’s lives in the capacity God has allowed us to do so.”
One year with Pop City PH
Now celebrating its first anniversary, Pop City PH is making this milestone memorable for customers by offering a series of promos.
Last November, they launched their #POPCITYPHTURNSONE promo where participants got a chance to win free albums of their choice by simply sharing their #funfreshpop shopping experience at Pop City PH.
They also held some live sessions on their Instagram and Facebook platforms where they announced exclusive discounts for select items.
From the end of November till December, Pop City PH will also be participating in an online bazaar organized by Bixie, a financial app for women that encourages savings and wealth generation through knowledge, tools, and network.
Each person who downloads and registers in the MyBixie app will be given a Php 100-off promo code that may be used when shopping at Pop City PH.
“Since the day we have been stewarding Pop City PH, it honestly feels like everything happened so fast before our eyes, and now we’re celebrating our first year with our customers. Overall, we are really just very, very grateful,” says Val as they embark on a new chapter in their business.