ARCADIA, Calif. - These days, everyone is trying to get in on the Instagram action. And you don’t even have to be a human to rack up the likes. On a typical day at Partywith, an instagrammable pop-up museum at the Westfield Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia, you can see cats, dogs, and aspiring influencers all lining up for photos ops.
“There’s nothing like this in Ohio,” said customer Linh Hoang. “We have cornfields in Ohio.”
Hoang and her best friend are vacationing in Los Angeles from Ohio. She says the $20 to $42 price tag is well worth the chance to take pictures in front of creative backdrops with colorful lights.
The larger than life sets, such as a giant eggplant emoji, were designed by Partywith co-owner Crystal Lo. She says the Instagram obsession is not just about vanity, it’s about body positivity.
“I’ve been plus size since I was really young,” said Lo. So she was inspired to create a space where everyone could look good in photos. She designed each set with flattering lighting.
Hoang says body positivity is a message that’s definitely needed on social media, with so many people feeling inadequate by comparing themselves to unrealistic images.
“It puts more pressure on people,” said Hoang. “They look that way, but I don’t. So what am I doing wrong?”
Lo says so far her business has drawn in decent crowds, and the mall likes having her there, even if its temporary. Many believe pop-ups are the answer to what is being called the retail apocalypse.
Credit Suisse, a major global financial company predicts that 25 percent of U.S. malls will close down by 2022, as shoppers turn to online retailers. Lo says the idea is to lure shoppers to the mall with experiences.
“We are the new kind of entertainment,” says Lo.
And for small businesses these museums have another economic benefit. The marketing team for clothing brand Milano di Rouge says doing their photoshoots at a place like this instead of a professional studio can save them thousands of dollars.
Lo says she’s happy to help entrepreneurs, artists, and everyday people have a place to be creative and beautiful without breaking the bank. She says looking good on camera isn’t just for supermodels anymore.