Wardens of Newtownards: UTV spends day getting to know stars of viral Northern Ireland shop

It's TikTok magic - but it's not an exact science and that's why people love it.

Wardens, a family-run shop in Newtownards, has gained nearly 200,000 followers on TikTok, after jumping from just 600.

It comes after one prominent TikTok user @holymorridge highlighted the store's videos, saying the posts left her with 'tears in her eyes'.

That post was viewed over 2.5million times...

Wardens worker Jonathan Sloan has become a social media star thanks to the incredible surge of followers and now gets stopped in the street as people ask him for selfies.

He said: "It's very strange, from working in the shop as a sales assistant then going out walking and people are pumping their horns and shouting 'there's Mr TikTok'.

"There was a child in the shop... and he was laughing and smiling and being all shy and his mum says he calls you 'Mr Happy'.

"It's worldwide basically, people in America, Canada and Australia have all seen it."

Some of the most-liked videos are of Jonathan jumping out of cardboard boxes or rolling out from under beds.

He explained: "The marketing team come up with these ideas... it happens just literally on the spot sometimes, sometimes there isn't much planning that goes into it."

Jonathan said he likes being the face of the account and people ask for selfies when he is out and about, with one customer telling him he has "cheered up the nation".

His colleague Nigel Edmund is also reaching the dizzying heights of TikTok fame, with one of his videos being viewed more than 1million times.

Nigel, who has worked in the store for 44 years, said: "It just happened all over night. Within 24 hours... It's quite incredible how social media works and how fast it spreads. I knew nothing about TikTok."

Holly Morris, who highlighted the store, which has been operating from 1877, told UTV: "I kind of knew it would be the thing my audience would like. Everyone likes to support the underdog.

"They said thank you to me but I said it's not me, if I shouted you out and your account was rubbish no one would care. Content falls flat all the time but it's very much because they have all the right elements."

Holly was then invited to Newtownards to spend some time in the store.

She said: "I did a live stream and suddenly I'm live in Wardens... you'd think we'd spend loads of time rehearsing it but no that was just straight in with Jonny going to each of the departments and walking round."

Tracey Meredith, the digital marketing co-ordinator at the shop, said it's been a team effort.

She added: "We've really enjoyed making them... it's been a bit of a morale boost across the store.

"Everybody's had a good laugh doing it and we have had a lot of positive feedback from people.

"It literally happened over the course really of a day. We came in in the morning and think we had 611 followers and seen that Holly had shared us, which we were excited about, and then the growth just became insane."

Over the coming weeks UTV is hosting a special digital series on some of the top Northern Ireland influencers. Just follow UTV News.

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