Amazon has killed many a brick-and-mortar store. What will save them? Selfies, of course.
From a sprinkles-filled pool to a completely pink Italian restaurant, entrepreneurs are building immersive 'built-for-Instagram' style experiences that are not only supremely photogenic they are also driving real foot traffic.
As anyone who's spent time trying to find new customers on social media knows, it's a crowded, crowded world. For ideas on how to create your own immersive experience or eye-catching installation, here, we tally the most popular 'Instagrammable' ventures stopping users mid-scroll.
The Pint Shop
The roving Museum of Ice Cream has been attracting lovers of ice cream--and selfies--since it's first appearance in 2016. With its picture-perfect installations--a giant popsicle installation and a pool full of sprinkles, among others--the museum in San Francisco, which charges an entrance fee of $38, has about 397,000 followers on Instagram and posts with the hashtag #museumoficecream numbered 159,983 at presstime.
The exhibition has also appeared in Los Angeles and Miami, and a museum spokesperson says it has attracted more than one million visitors between all of its locations.
In a move to further grow the Museum of Ice Cream umbrella, the company, founded by Maryellis Bunn, 26, and Manish Vora, 38, partnered with Target to launch an actual ice cream shop in New York City in June, dubbed The Pint Shop.
In addition to selling its seven signature drool-worthy flavors like "Churro Churro" and "Vanillionaire," The Pint Shop offers a colorful, stylish and grocery store-themed space stocked with ice cream-themed souvenirs and ample photo opportunities. Naturally, there are giant pint installations, each hollowed out with photo-ready scenes queued up inside. Though, there's typically a line to snap a pic.
Admission to the The Pint Shop is free for the duration of its run, which will end in mid-August. There's also an exclusive tasting room experience that can be booked for $1,250, but general admission into the tasting room is $33.
Tracy Anderson 59th Street Studio
Talk about taking your post workout selfies and progress pics to a whole new level. Trainer and fitness pioneer Tracy Anderson, in March 2017, opened the 6,000-square foot 59th Street studio in New York City equipped with its very own selfie booth.
You might recognize Anderson, as she is the personal trainer of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez. She also has 170 DVDs, six fitness studios in the U.S., one studio in Madrid, private training services in London, and an online streaming service.
The location with the selfie booth was a former movie theater, says Steven Beltrani, a spokesperson for the Tracy Anderson Method brand. Adding a selfie booth was both a way to pay homage to the space's heritage, as well as connect Anderson's community of fitness fans. Anderson's global audience call themselves the #tamily and tag the trainer in social media posts, Beltrani says.
If you search for the #tamily hashtag on Instagram, more than 100,000 posts come up. Though there are many more tributes and progress pics elsewhere on the web.
Pietro Nolita owner, Pietro Quaglia, says his completely pink Italian restaurant was not created with social media in mind. However, when the New York City eatery opened in October 2016, its memorable monochromatic design quickly took the internet by storm--garnering it about 30,300 Instagram followers to date.
Quaglia, who was born in Milan in 1979 and came to New York in 2003, says the restaurant's design was inspired by the Italian city's Memphis Group. That organization of artistic visionaries broke away from the prevailing styles of the time and produced designs, architecture, and furniture with unorthodox shapes and loud colors.
Pink was one of the main colors used by the Memphis Group, Quaglia says. It also reminded him of the Italian Riviera, particularly the Liguria region where his mom had a house. "I wanted to bring back memories of my childhood... that's pretty much the only reason," Quaglia says. "I wasn't expecting so much love on Instagram. I guess it turned out to be a good thing in a way."
Many people have since come by to snap photos in the restaurant, says Quaglia, who adds that merchandise sales have also been bolstered by social media. After screen printing by hand just 10 T-shirts that read "Pink As F--k," the design went viral. Now, the shirts are professionally printed and sold at the restaurant.
Pietro Nolita also sells "Pink As F--k" hats, condoms, and other products.
This vegan restaurant in Toronto has garnered plenty of likes on Instagram with its interactive selfie room, where visitors can peruse the custom wallpaper created by Richard Watts, a vegan illustrator, who's known for the Vegan Sidekick comics.
Eva Lampert, Doomie's director of vegan operations, says the restaurant was excited to team up with the British illustrator to create a space where diners would be surrounded by "ethical, unapologetic vegan messaging."
Strewn on the walls are series of fictional scenes that center around conversations on veganism, Lampert says. "They hilariously highlight people's excuses for not going vegan and look to poke holes in them," she says.
The restaurant, which opened in April 2016, incorporated the selfie room to match the eatery's unique comfort food offerings with an equally standout marketing approach, Lampert says.
It's become so popular, there's usually a wait just to go in, Lampert adds that, on a typical night, guests can expect to wait for 30 to 40 minutes to enter the selfie room if they arrive after 7 p.m.
On average, 70 to 100 tagged photos are taken in the restaurant each month, says Lampert. She adds that story mentions on Instagram are strong as well, with closer to 120 on average per month.
"We are proud to make it very clear to our guests that veganism is a matter of fundamental justice and that we are here to encourage others to go vegan," Lampert says. "The vegan selfie room, along with our other messaging, has been our opportunity to do that with a light heart."
The Last Bookstore
The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles is a cavernous space that claims to be the largest used and new book and record store in in California.
The name was chosen as an ironic reference to the loss of many physical bookstores due to the impact of Amazon and e-books. Its current location--a former bank building--dates back to 1915, and has a vintage feel with lofty decorated ceilings and regal columns. The company launched as an online-only book store in 2005.
When setting up shop in the space, owner, Josh Spencer, wanted to preserve the location's "steam punk" vibe that makes it feel classic and inviting.
One of the most iconic--and Instagrammable--hallmarks of the space is the 'book tunnel' which came about during an expansion of the space in 2012. Store manager, Katie Orphan adds that it's actually kind of impossible to get through the 2nd floor--where the tunnel is based--with any sort of speed, because people are always stopping to take photos.
The Last Bookstore's Instagram page has also collected about 37,100 followers to boot.